hours

by the keys they are moments

the world is an updosie place

with people calling it “new normal”

but far from normal is any of it

a system built on broken backs

breaking down

an unseen virus collecting souls

of those who can’t play well with others

and collateral angels fallen

for the hubris of others

days lost to the gains of time

doors allowed to slowly open

barged down and barred again

as the new new life preys

upon our lives

we will adapt and overcome

or we will hold on to the past

and decay in the arms of change

George Floyd

George Floyd :: Minneapolis :: May 25

From the Investigative Update on Critical Incident on the Minneapolis Police website.

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Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car.  He was ordered to step from his car.  After he got out, he physically resisted officers.  Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.  Officers called for an ambulance.  He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
+++

That entry makes George Floyd’s death sound like a heart attack.

A knee with the weight of a grown man behind it will cause medical distress. George Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by Derek Chauvin who kneeled on his neck for seven minutes.

No weapons were used, only a well placed knee across the neck ended the life of another Black Person in America. Three murders in four months and these are the ones that have gone viral and we have been made aware of through social media and news outlets. School shootings are down because there are no children in school, but Black murder continues because Black people die by living in America.

Breonna Taylor :: Louisville :: March 13
Ahmaud Arbrey :: Brunswick :: February 23

I cannot believe I am writing about another Black death by police. Yet, I can because this is America and the lives of Black men people are not valued the same as the lives of other people in this country.

Scientists are searching for a vaccine for COVID, but what is the vaccine for intrinsic racism and murder of Black lives? Will we ever live in a world that truly values life?

generations at war

In high school, to protest the first Gulf War, I sat vigil on a median while it snowed. In civilian clothes, for fear of retribution, soldiers from Ft. Carson joined our silent vigil. Thirty years later, American forces never truly left and oil continues to be traded for blood. Thirty years later, the guise of goodwill and nation building lifted, the profiteers and pilfering politicians have learned nothing but to send another generation into battle- saving their own children to inherit their place in political office.

America’s leaders, what is right about any of this? Being there does nothing to make us a better country.

At 19, because I protested so loudly before I could even vote, I joined the military to serve our country. From an first generation American grandfather who was dropped behind enemy lines in WW2, I believed in an America that protected the weak and welcomed the stranger. I had yet to learn the history behind the glorified ticker-tape of the victor. I joined the Navy to serve a nation based on freedoms for all. I served, to be able to always defend those who embraced our rights through protest at any cost.

I realize now, how delusional that was because the wars we fight now and forever in our history have had nothing to do with defending our rights. The wars were and are about the money and those who hold the power of industry and militarization. Even the idea that we must embrace our freedoms at any costs is ludicrous. Those freedoms- those inalienable rights- should not have to be fought for in repeated fashion. Furthermore, those inalienable rights most certainly have nothing to do with those who live on the land of the Middle East or what is under the crust of its land.

I once thought I would want my daughter to share my journey, to serve the country I believed in enough to go to battle for, but that is no longer my desire. I will never encourage my daughter to join the ranks of our military. Instead my daughter will know of my journey of protest. Though it seems a fruitless battle in opposing further invasion and murder for oil. We will join arms and let our faces be seen and voices be heard. It may be of little use, but it puts us on the right side of history.

The unfortunate continued battles for our freedoms are not won on battlefields. They are fought in the war-room living rooms of America, planned out by the most common, but bravest of citizens. Freedoms are won in our streets, at counters, in front of clinics, in schools each day. Freedoms are won by artists and writers who move people to action. Freedoms are won in jail cells and court rooms. Bullets and wars are made to create diversion and division- to sustain the status quo. Freedoms are held by the fearless. Those who hold their ground in the face of others who would rather draw blood for perceived differences and the mighty dollar than to sit and talk about our commonalities.

My daughter may go to war, but it will be for those who do not have a voice. The immigrant, the child, a woman’s reproductive rights, our environment and natural resources. Our fights are many and growing each day, but they are not in the desert lands of the Middle East. Our fights are in the streets, homes, and classrooms of America. Our fight is to recognize we are no better than the next person. Our fight is to regain the humanity that is quickly being lost.

Society’s Turtles

a new walking bridge flanks the wooden train bridge, that

nature is diligently dismantling.

urban decay cradled this space,

not so long ago inhabited only by feral dogs and humans

now a busy path from paycheck lofts to office cubes

connects a fabricated neighborhood of flag ship groceries and hair salons

you won’t find a bodega or $2 dry cleaner in the mixed urban use zone.

it came up with plans to be shiny and young

— a place to begin before you marry at 28 and move to a shady place with solid schools and a country club membership.

lives anchored above, dropping shade onto new concrete and old shadows

from a very different light.

amidst it all people pass through with their world’s belongings strapped to their back

turtles of humanity’s kind, rarely will they be picked up and guided safely to a place where they will be protected. and like turtles perhaps they don’t seek others help

human turtles are left to make their way, instead of depending on a pond ruled by a set of social norms and expectations, comfort that can be snatched by the whim of corporate or social court, they fold into their carried home and go about creating their pond at the edges of the rules.

silent witness

Those who saw Eric Garner put his hands up and say, “I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone.”

What of those who saw this happen? Did their guts squirm? Did their consciences push, “Say something. Break the tension. Speak up!”
Did a fear of blue anger being turned upon them bring them to silence?
They did what they thought they could do: pull out a cell phone and film the scene play out.

When Justin Damico approached, Ramsey Orta recorded the moment.
Did he think it would stop at a conversation?

When the other cops swarmed in.
Ramsey kept filming.
Silent.

When Eric pulled his hands away from Daniel Pantaleo’s handcuffs.
When Daniel wrapped his arms around Eric’s neck.
Ramsey kept filming. Everyone stood by.

Did they imagine it would stop when handcuffs were attached?
Silent.

When Daniel and Eric hit the glass window.
When Eric was lowered to the ground.
He kept filming.

Were they all too shocked to act? Or was this abuse so common all they could do anymore was stand silent, bearing witness.

When Eric gasped, “I can’t breathe,” it was locked into Ramsey’s phone.
“I can’t breathe.”
“I can’t breathe.”

When Kizzy Adoni didn’t intercede to stop her officer from keeping an illegal chokehold on Eric for 15 seconds … while he would gasp, “I can’t breathe,” eight more times.

Again he gasped, “I can’t breathe,” and no one stepped forward.

Six more times, he would gasp, “I can’t breathe.”
Five times, he would gasp, “I can’t breathe.”
Four, he would gasp, “I can’t breathe.”
Three, he would gasp, “I can’t breathe.”
Two, he gasped, “I can’t breathe.”
One gasp, “I can’t breathe.”

While he laid on the ground, unresponsive for seven minutes, no one took action. Death creeped in and they kept filming, bearing witness.

Silent.

So many were involved, so many watched the crime unfold. An unarmed man was confronted and attacked. So many passed by and remained silent.

After he was dead and no one was held accountable, people took to the streets. Movements grew, but police violence continues. Those responsible were not held accountable. And those who silently witnessed were outraged.

Witnesses continue to film, but who steps in? How many silently witness as anger and hatred spread death. How many more will die? Their deaths posted for our consumption, while we wring our hands and watch the viral videos on YouTube.

Our silence is deadly. If we do not take action, we hold the world back.