Firstly, rest in power: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and the thousands of other members of our Black communities slain by a system meant to serve and protect them.
To see a city of familiar faces, perhaps one’s own city, being called thugs and criminals for protesting deaths at the hands of police brutality is enraging. It’s disheartening. It’s reprehensible. It’s as American as apple pie.
Policing in urban communities represents a historical relationship between the law enforcers and those who are subject to the enforcement. The only things distinguishing one from the other is a badge, uniform, a couple more months of training and what seems like impunity from the laws being enforced.
We are told by our enemies and supposed allies that while being victims of abuse at the hands of law enforcement, we must make sure our tones of anger and disgust toward this enforcement must maintain civility and respect for those who have no civility and respect for us.
We are told by our enemies and allies that we must reflect on the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. and love our enemies. Who knows how far these visions of nonviolence and mutual respect for all in America could have gone, if it wasn’t for the assassination of a man preaching those various visions.
See, when our enemies and allies talk of a whitewashed version of King’s legacy and bring up the importance of turning the other cheek, walking hand and hand with each other, and respecting the oppressors, they fail to mention that he was killed for these beliefs.
When an athlete took a knee during a song in order to bring awareness to police brutality that athlete was hailed as anti-American, a “son of a b*tch” and blackballed from his career. We are told violence is not the answer but being nonviolent is also not the answer either, as it can come off as disrespectful, antagonizing.
This brings me to believe that the issue many of our allies have–is the same issue held by our enemies. The way we protest and react does not matter because both groups are in support of the very things we are protesting against.
To get mad at a protest for “becoming violent” while ignoring the violence imposed on protestors first and foremost is remarkable. For police to use violence in order to disperse to a peaceful group of protestors–who are protesting police violence is comically ironic and downright depressing.
Within the past four days, the use of teargas, militarized policing, the actual military, rubber bullets, real bullets, horses, cars and fists have been normalized, supported, and used against those protesting violence at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect us.
Those of us on the receiving end of surveillance and 24/7 policing are never truly afforded the opportunity to decide how the communities we live in are policed and furthermore, how we react to injustices due to our over-policing.
Rather, people in Milwaukee, like Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, Louisville, Philadelphia, and many other cities are told that we are anarchic for destroying our “own community,” setting cop cars ablaze, expropriating items from businesses and shutting down streets with demonstrations. In all actuality, our “communities” are largely not owned by the people that live within them. We are told we are destroying our own community but not much thought goes toward how gentrification displaces poor people who have been living in Milwaukee communities for generations.
There is nothing at stake for those subject to a pandemic where we take the brunt of the health inequity force, a lack of fulfilling work with money to show for it, and the despair of knowing you can be a model minority and still face prejudice–but there is everything to gain from overthrowing a system of oppression that has bounded your community for years.
To be in support of the protests and rebellions galvanizing urban populations across the country is to realize the agency and consciousness communities have, regardless of race. To be in support is acknowledging the real consequences of the oppressive systems that have demoralized and killed so many of our own community’s family and friends. To be in support of the protests and rebellions, one must not concern themselves with the blaming of victims subject to oppressive social relationships and how we respond to being oppressed.
Milwaukee is mourning because we have had our own George Floyd, our own Breonna Taylor, our own Tony McDade, our own Ahmaud Arbery and we will continue to add to this list until something is seriously done about the methods of policing in our communities and the systems of oppression upheld by the United States as it stands. Make no mistake, to conflate the uprisings across America solely because of the death of George Floyd would be to willfully ignore what our communities have been protesting against in general since the introduction of Africans to America and the genocide of the Native Americans.