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May our actions be appropriate

Letter to the Editor:

This past week George Floyd joined an ever-growing list of African-Americans killed in police-involved incidents. Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe” fell on deaf, uncaring ears as an officer choked the life out of him for nine minutes while three other officers stood by watching.

There’s no defending what those officers did in that video, though some will try. With his senseless death I can’t help but compare it to COVID-19, where breathing … something precious, something to be protected and something to which every human is entitled is stolen away.

But in comparing it to loss of breath from the wretched effects of the pandemic why isn’t our reaction the same? During this crisis we saw what was occurring and swiftly and dramatically changed behaviors to save lives. With this senseless death, and the numerous other black men and women who have been killed unjustly, when will we understand that injustice affects us all? Whatever affects one person directly, affects all of us indirectly!

No matter how empathic I want to be, I have come to understand that my experience of race in America is a microcosm of my childhood … a mostly white neighborhood as is in most of Carbon County. It has made it impossible for me to fully comprehend these incidents and the fear associated with being approached by authority as a minority.

But no one should live a life stifled by either racism or police brutality. It’s time to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and get involved in our neighborhoods, governments AND mostly compassionate police departments and to mentor, protest, VOTE, write our borough council members, county commissioners and Congress members. Do we have to wait until attorneys sue a police department and cost taxpayers dearly before we as a nation change our policing practices?

The memory of Mr. Floyd deserves better than the rioting THUGS looting the very neighborhoods within which hard working African-Americans have established successful businesses only to have them destroyed. Violence is never an honorable or healthy recourse to display anyone’s personal anger or mourning.

Soon, we will fully emerge from self-isolation, and when we do, may our interactions be more thoughtful, more open, more understanding, more inclusive and more kind to all races, religions and nationalities.

May our reactions be more appropriate and as natural and innate as each breath George Floyd deserved to take.

Joseph J. Bennett