arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday Morning Post (V.2, #21) - Can We Agree on Justice?


In another lifetime, or so it seems, I was living with friends outside of Washington and would have the opportunity to drive through the Northeast Quadrant via Benning Road and the H Street Corridor.  I was a bit taken aback by the typical upscale DC vistas I would see on one side of an overpass crossing over the railroad tracks from Union Station only to see stark desolation of the other side going towards Benning Road.  There were a lot of empty storefronts, neglect seen in abandoned properties with high weeds and garbage piles, some burned out properties and overall a sense of hopelessness.  I later learned that this all happened in the 1968 riots when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.  

I had seen scenes like this before in my native Philadelphia, but I was seeing this urban destruction for this first time in 1988!  Twenty years after the riots!  Twenty years of too many people shrugging their shoulders and high-tailing it for the suburbs! Twenty years when most people preferred to look away from the deteriorating neighborhood that was once so vibrant.  A rot borne of hatred and anger.

I only bring this up now because there are more expressions of hatred and anger happening this weekend in America.  It’s like the riots that happened once upon a time in DC have been franchised, not for the purpose of economic prosperity, but to destroy in anger and frustration just for the sake of destruction.   

Once again, the spark for this latest round was the senseless murder of a black man at the hands of an urban law enforcement officer.

This latest round of protests started in the city where the racial incident occurred, Minneapolis, but the protests quickly turned from peaceful demonstrations that enough is enough to violent, burn-baby-burn demonstrations in other cities from Atlanta to Los Angeles.  For the black community the scene of George Floyd begging to breathe while the stereo typical cop crushed his wind pipe is all too familiar.  For many people in the white community it will be another moment to roll our eyes while we sigh, “Oh no, not again!”

Yes, again.  The elephant in the room which has dogged our country since before its founding in 1776 has been awakened again.  Once again one of us allowed our baser instincts to get the better of us and kill another human being, which prompted many others to let their baser instincts to go wild.  

The protestors, at least the peaceful ones, insist now as before that there will be no peace without justice. Fine, I couldn’t agree more.  This seems like a sensible expectation of the society at large.  Now if we can only agree on justice that is suitable punishment for the crime.

First, we should recognize that American justice has always been problematic for the black community.  We’ve long known that there was double standard in play between punishments meted out for white perps and black perps.  Activists for years have pointed to the disparity between the percentage of imprisoned black men and the percentage of black men in America as a whole. This is the same justice system who will process the case of the now ex-Minneapolis police officer. So right away we have a trust issue.

Second, there always seems to be some sort of dissatisfaction with what the eventual punishment turns out to be.  In this case the officer has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.  This case hasn’t even gone to trial and people are complaining about the severity (or lack thereof) of the charge.  I’m not familiar with the nuances of first, second, and third degrees under Minnesota law, but I believe there is always the chance that the charges can be upgraded at a later date. 

Third, do we really believe that those violent protestors who have burned down buildings in Minneapolis and chucked cinder blocks through the windows at CNN in Atlanta, just want justice?   Or are they looking for revenge?  Yes, I think this is a fair question.

Would these people be content with a public execution like a hanging or beheading?  I don’t think I’m being ridiculous in making this suggestion. I really don’t know what is going on in the protestor’s heads, even as I deal with my own outrage at the incident.

Many of us can understand the anger and frustration of the protestors, but many of us realize that destruction of public and private property is counter- productive.  Just look at recent history.   Did racism disappear after the 1968 riots? How about the Rodney King verdict?  Or how about the riots a few years ago in Ferguson, Missouri?  Sadly, the answer is no.  The systemic racism continued without so much as a pause to common decency.

The situation would be helped greatly if we had competent leadership at the top, but President Throwing-Gasoline-On-The-Fire seems more inclined to incite violence against the protestors.  Typical, all too typical.

We should also consider that George Floyd’s death was just a spark to issues totally unrelated to racism and injustice.  People are still frustrated that the country is trying to open up and/or close again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Many of the protestors may also be wrestling with unemployment and economic uncertainty for the immediate future.   America has a lot on its plate this summer.

In the end, any available resources will be used not to combat hatred and racism, but to rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed in the riots.  Even then, that may not happen for decades.  Work to rebuild the H Street Corridor did not even begin until 2002.  Judging from photos I found on line this area of DC is once again a vibrant place to live and prosper.

So, how many other cities will have their own H Street Corridor disaster zones to deal with in the coming years?  Too many to distract us from dealing with the root cause of it all.

(Thank you for reading.  By all means raise your voice to injustice, but let’s be peaceful out there.)

4 Comments:

Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Racial injustice will destroy America one way or the other.

May 31, 2020 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Dave R said...

There's a bit of justice in the pot, as well as a bit of revenge, there's also a couple spoonfuls of 'chip on the shoulder,' but one thing I've noticed in a lot of photos I've seen... there are quite a number of white faces in the crowd, so maybe there's more justice in it then we might want to believe.

May 31, 2020 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

well said and well done - again.

May 31, 2020 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you Debra. All the more reason to conquer it first.

I've noticed that too, Dave. Many of the peaceful protestors are white, but then again I've seen that most of the looters also seem to be pale as well.

Thank you, Spo, Rabbit, rabbit!

June 1, 2020 at 6:28 PM  

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