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.
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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?

cup of tea

it all just stopped …
they put their guns down
made tea
set out some food
opened the gates.
we showed we do not hate …
instead just who we are-
working class brothers and sisters
far from home
alone
scared and scarred
just wanting to hold those
we love again

how many could be saved with a simple cup of tea?

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.

We have one job

Understand not everyone will end up with the same opportunities in life. If that were the case, life would be very dull or absolute fucking chaos or full on god squad or total violence.

Peoples’ gifts aren’t equal.

Circumstances are not equal.

Respect should be our baseline.

We need the differences to create a dynamic whole. The nuts and bolts of life will never be fully interchangeable, but one thing that should be given equally is respect. Fundamentally, we all need love and respect. Life is a series of reactions to input. Our daily work should be to make our input positive: starting with love & respect in all actions.

Respect for others and behaving honorably are not optional. Connection and understanding are created through healthy interaction with friends and strangers alike. There are enough resources and opportunities for you and your neighbor. Expand your circles and meet those around you. If you come together with good intent, you will find resources, support, and kindnesses seem to multiply.

You will never have the life you imagine because reality is far more interesting than we can imagine. You can create a beautiful world for yourself and others. You can build worlds on your block or micro-communities across the world. You can create art and build love. You can smile and shift someone’s reality or sit quietly, listen- opening the world for someone with only your time. It all starts with reaching past yourself and basing your actions in respect.

Stretch out and grow or stay closed and wither. The choice is yours.

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.

Is it a happy 4th?

I’m spending the long weekend with my kid. Days are spent swimming, reading & writing, visiting with friends, grabbing ice coffees and snacks, and experimenting with food. It’s summer so we often stay up late to binge watch shows or go night swimming. She’s almost 11 now and much of parenting is a whole lot of guidance and asking how she is making choices. I recently saw a meme that said parenting an only child is a lot #likealwayshavingabrokeassbestfriend. Truth.

Yesterday, with friends, we hiked into a great swimming hole on the greenbelt of Austin. We found pristine waters in the midst of one of the country’s fastest growing cities. An oasis strangely full, in the midst of an unexpectedly cool summer, surrounded by a community that lives on the edge of potential drought if rains pause for a few months. But this weekend, the water flowed deep and children played and argued and lived a dream.

Last night, we were headed home from more visiting and grilling of foods and so many blessings when we saw free rockstar parking near the city’s symphony & fireworks area of display. Oncoming traffic was non-existent so I threw the car into a fast, fully committed u-turn so I could adhere to the back-in parking regulations of the street. As I completed parking, my kid cackled with joy as she lectured me that my antics were certainly illegal, but really fun. We wandered about for a bit, then down to the lake-that-is-a-river shore and meandered through the crowd. The picture attached to this post is that crowd after the show. It was a crowd I would not normally tolerate, but am working on claiming space and not letting crowds of people bother me. Apparently, it’s working at least a little. Anyway, we saw the major downtown bridge was blocked off so we walked down the middle, stood in the center of it and laughed and whooped and danced in circles. We watched fireworks and talked about viewing them from a kayak in the future.

Today, we drove to a hidden spot, that is no longer so hidden, in the hill country where my child repeatedly threw herself off a swing that hangs from ancient trees and I took some time for myself. At this spot, kids and adults alike drop into a 15 foot (possibly deeper) hole of water that is monitored and protected from overuse. Teenagers play pseudo volleyball, classic rock plays while sugar ants seek out potato chip remains – though there are few.

To say this weekend is idyllic and a little picture of perfection is a gross understatement. We are safe and gifted to a point of ludicrous indulgence for the average American. Yet nothing we’ve done is extremely indulgent, simply a few days a de-stressing that should be accessible to everyone. In the midst of all this beauty, I’m divided.

I’m trying to separate our country’s birthday and the goodness that we live amongst with the absolute abysmal present administration. I spent four years serving this country because I had protested the first Gulf War – a war that continues 20 years later. I believed and continue to believe, we can’t appreciate the rights we have without sacrificing in some capacity. This goes deeper than military service, but that’s how I balanced the moral belief and personal action. I still love the ideals of this country, but the current manifestation is infuriating me to a pitch that is close to boiling point.

I see there are good people busting ass, but the shit-storm seems to be amplifying. On Wednesday evening, in the middle of a restaurant, I nearly got into a screaming match over women’s rights with a cousin & uncle after one poohooed that it is remarkable for a single woman to complete college while raising a kid. They seemed to believe it either wouldn’t be a challenge or seemed as easy as just getting daycare, because, “How much work is a kid, I mean really?” That’s just basic, straight forward white male privilege cluelessness. I keep hearing our conversation and my level of disappointment in them leaves me speechless. Still, at the end of the night, we hugged and sent each other off with love and good wishes. I can’t even begin to imagine conversations about immigration or tax policy. But I want to have them.

I don’t know what road this cultural experiment called America will take. Some of her future possibilities scare me to a core I can’t even begin to comprehend. Other possible outcome make me feel a joy and excitement that I also can’t comprehend. I don’t know where those roads start – though we are definitely merging dangerously close to the road of dismal humanitarian crisis for a large number of folks. I intend to always speak and act on the path of goodness, but I fear my words will be sharing time with some dark roads we have to travel to get back to the brighter fires we had been stoking.

In the meantime, I will keep living my life and teaching my child. As I’ve said before, love your loves a little harder. Be good to strangers. Reach to live big lives. Fearlessly create. Try something new. All we are promised is today.