Otherwise, George Floyd’s killers would still be free. The police, and the government officials who back them, had to gaze on the orange glow and see that–by golly–there actually may be repercussions for their heinous actions. They had to be hit where it hurts, their home. They had to experience fear. Just as with all powerful men who think they can get away with every despicable act, such as Harvey Weinstein, whose loss in livelihood caused other men to take notice, pull back, consider their actions before advancing on yet another woman, so it is that one police station, just one station out of many, stations that should be headquarters of safety that citizens run toward not shrink from, was burned–a mild reaction to the lynching of a man, to the lynching of many men, women and children. Yet even if it was just about this one man, even if George Floyd was the only human killed this way, it is still a soft response. It is still unequal. The debt still has not been paid. If we burned down every police station for the lynching of every African American, we’d have to move on to other buildings because the numbers exceed.
If the video doesn’t anger you, then you are part of the problem. Don’t talk to me about property. Don’t talk to me about peaceful protesting. The initial reaction had to speak to the perpetrators to matter. I have imagined the reaction of the police force and government officials, if there had simply been peaceful protesting on that first day: Let them sing and walk. Just watch ‘em. Eventually, they’ll shut up and go away, like they always do.
Don’t talk to me about a few bottles being hurled at a few cops. Talk to me about George Floyd. Talk to me about the known and unknown African Americans who have been killed, abused, tortured, asked to step out of their vehicles because of the color of their skin, handcuffed for the color of their skin, followed for the color of their skin, and on and on and on. One building is a small exchange. A car here. A smashed window there. Those things can be made anew. George Floyd can’t. But the damage of one police station and the visceral outrage of many people have spearheaded the change that is seeming to take place. Thank you, protestors. Your actions are moving the dial a little bit more.