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Open letter to those forwarding the C. Owens video on Facebook

What was your point of posting that video of Candice Owens on Facebook? Was it to initiate discussion or was it a reflection of your thoughts? In the spirit of St. Francis who taught to first seek understanding, I’m all ears, because my take on all of this is very different. 

I think she terribly misses the point of all of the protests going on. George Floyd’s death is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. In fact, I take exception that she deliberately uses a religious term, that of martyrdom, to fudge the issue. The very definition of martyrdom is a person who is killed because of their religious beliefs. George Floyd wasn’t killed because of his beliefs, but the uncomfortable truth is, he was killed because the police handle African American men differently than Anglo men caught up in similar situations. That’s the very definition of institutional racism.

Her argument about whether George Floyd was a good man or not is irrelevant to what happened. His struggles with drug addiction and committing crimes to feed that addiction, do not in any way lessen the Minneapolis police’s brutality. The police wildly over-reacted. She even admits that in her piece, so what is her point here? I think her argument is an attempt to dehumanize him, make him undeserving of the rights guaranteed to all of us by our laws. She implies that somehow people who have criminal records or addictions deserve to be treated differently than those who don’t and because of his flaws, he isn’t deserving of basic human decency. How does that square with the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution? And from a moral point of view, how does that square with Christ’s teachings? How does that in any way, shape or form, show mercy? 

In focusing her argument solely on George Floyd, she conveniently ignores two other recent, very disturbing examples of race playing a significant role in law enforcement actions: the police shooting of Breanna Taylor, a nurse in Louisville who was shot because in a "no-knock" raid, the police forcibly knocked down the door of the the wrong house, and the months it took to arrest the vigilantes who hunted down Ahmed Aubrey in Georgia. She also ignores all of the other police shootings of unarmed blacks that we’ve seen in past years; the unarmed kid who the police killed in a suburb of St. Louis, the kid in Cleveland who the police killed because he was playing in his neighborhood with a toy gun. It was these cases among others that prompted NFL players to take a knee a couple of years ago during the National Anthem. She conveniently ignores the fact that for many whites, the fact that NFL players were taking a knee during the anthem was somehow a greater affront to what our flag stands for than for police not being held accountable for killing unarmed citizens and in some cases, kids, which always was the real issue. 

We need to hold the police accountable. Every damn time. But most expeditiously, we need the kinds of reforms to make sure these horrendous things don't happen in the first place. 

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