Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Wrong Men

No one enjoys a good, old-fashioned protest more than I. People not only getting angry, but getting involved and organizing and devoting time to the expression of that discontent is at the very heart of my definition of democracy.

We the people countering a war, Wall Street greed or police brutality forcefully but peacefully is such a powerful thing. I mean, Twitter rants are wonderful, but they're just not the same.

But protests can be misdirected and ill-informed just as often as they're consciousness-raising, life-changing events. Case in point would be the Seattle chapter of Black Lives Matter interrupting a small public get-together celebrating Social Security and Medicare.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unwittingly became the target of these passionate—but misguided—protesters when they took the stage and demanded those in attendance hold Sanders accountable for police brutality and gentrification and the disparity of Seattle's public schools.

Perhaps they had confused Sanders with Baltimore police chief Anthony Batts or some generic law and order, right-wing Republican. But publicly harassing Sanders on the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death and demanding that he be held accountable?

Wow. Just wow. Guess all us white folk look alike.

If I was only mildly supportive of Black Lives Matter before this event, you can imagine my enthusiasm afterwards. Sorry, but I am not convinced that each and every police shooting of a black person is unjustified or the act of a runaway law enforcement agency drunk on its own authority.

Yes, there is a great deal wrong with the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans, and only a moron would say otherwise. Yes, it definitely needs an infusion of understanding and mutual respect.

But I would like to see the folk who constitute Black Lives Matter march through the ghetto with their message and confront the gang-bangers, drug dealers and garden variety thugs who kill young black men at a rate that dwarfs that of the police.

Just for starters, I would like to see a gun-toting gang-banger informed that black lives matter. Then we can move on to law enforcement.

People, let's be clear: Michael Brown is not a martyr. And Bernie Sanders is not your enemy.

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