I penned the following one and a half days ago. Circumstances have changed somewhat since then; however, I was moved to write what I was experincing emotionally at the time. I feel no need to rewrite.
There’s so much going on in our world today, and too much of it isn’t good. I’m watching or should I say mostly listening to the NBC Today Show. The anchors are discussing the decision by National Basketball Association players to boycott the playoff games. Their decision follows the situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin where a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in his back. As usual these days, there was video of the incident, taken by bystanders. The players feel deeply that this incident is another example of what must stop happening in America, Black men being killed unnecessarily by police. Their decision has spread to other sports franchises: The Women’s National Basketball Association, the Major and Minor League Baseball players. There will probably be some individuals with access to a public speaking platform, who will criticize these players for their action. I never understood why some folks think athletes should play and shut up. That’s the lot that people want to assign to gladiators in any era. You’re paid to play, to make money, to provide entertainment, not to exercise a social conscience.
When I saw the video footage of Blake being shot by the police officer, I first thought maybe there was some justification for this. After all Blake was entering his vehicle, not complying with the police order to stop. Who knows, he could have had a weapon in the vehicle. However, the action of shooting Blake seven times was over the top by the standards of any rational human being. Whenever I see video footage of these types of incident, and there have certainly been a lot of them lately, I can’t help but think about the mindset of the officer pulling the trigger. How can one, who is put in a position to protect life act so cavalierly to end one? I can certainly see the justification for firing at someone if they have a weapon drawn or are in some threatening stance where defense of self is necessary, but this case with Jacob Blake wasn’t that clear.
Jacob Blake’s kids were in the car. They saw their dad being shot seven times in the back. His kids were in the car. They saw him being shot. The shock of seeing this will probably be with them for an exceedingly long time, possibly the rest of their lives. What will they think when someone tells them that police officers are there to protect you? That’s an argument that flies squarely in the face of the reality they witnessed.
And then comes protests, and God forbid mayhem in the streets. What follows? Police response is what follows. More injuries and a good chance loss of life. In this case, there was indeed loss of life from the action of an individual who lived from out of state. Kyle Rittenhouse, with no ties to the Kenosha, Wisconsin community decided his assistance was needed to manage the situation occurring in the streets of Kenosha. He’s a seventeen-year-old young man, and probably without very much wisdom, as many his age lack. With assault rifle in hand, and I would venture to say little, if any respect for human life, Rittenhouse decided to fire into the protesting crowd. His action resulted in the careless killing of two human beings.
How does any of this happen? We all can venture a reply; however, until we figure out how to stop it from happening again, my heart will forever be heavy.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.
I am deeply shocked by these events and horrified that such things are still happening. May God continue to bless and keep you.
You have articulated pretty much my own thoughts upon learning of these events. When did it become okay to shoot people in the back? Even if they are “bad” people, wasn’t there once a taboo about shooting anyone in the back? And if there is fear of a forthcoming weapon, which I understand as a real fear, why not shoot in the back of the knee? Or the shoulder? And SEVEN bullets? There is just no justification for that. Nor does America need an untrained, unhinged, teenaged militia amplifying everything that is wrong with our official law enforcement protocols.
I am ecstatic to see more sports teams and players taking a lead in voicing their dismay. They have the public eye. The need to use that clout to bring attention to what is happening. I am so glad I’m approaching 70 rather than approaching 20 or 30 or even 10.