Sunday May 31st, 2020 on the square of Murfreesboro, TN, a peaceful vigil was held in honor of the late George Floyd, recently killed by a police officer in Minnesota. His wrongful death has ignited yet another spark in not only the black community, but the entire nation as a whole, regarding police brutality and discrimination. The video release of George Floyd being slowly killed, now seen world wide, has proven that there is a problem, which we all have witnessed and need to address. There is unfortunately still corruption and a sense of leniency as of late in many facets of government in reference to police brutality. We hear. We see. Your life matters. One protestor at another event had this sign that summed it up perfectly, “All lives matter, but right now we are focusing on black lives.” The video was shocking and displayed a hard truth for the world to see. Since this horrible death occurred, there have been many people of all races absolutely outraged and disappointed in our law enforcement officers a whole. Our police and deputies are meant to serve and protect, and many feel that they are not in fact protected but instead, targeted.
Our nation needs change. We need leadership. We need prayers. We need love. We need boundaries. We need Jesus.
Today started as a peaceful protest, true to it’s name and effectiveness; like many other protests and vigils held across the country, began as a solid group chanting, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” “Black lives matter,” and “Say their name. The group spoke on the injustices that have been so frequent and the pain it has caused. There were a few moments where people shouted “F the police,” but for the most part it was a very peaceful and non violent event. This was from 3:00 pm- 6:00 p.m. Officers were friendly and kind to all of us at the square, despite what several have stated, there was no physical violence from the protestors during this time and the police officers at the square did not engage or taunt anyone regardless of some of the things that were said to and at them. One even marched with the group. At this time, the majority of the crowd had left and there were around 50-70 people left at the square. This was when a few independent protesters started their own mini events which honed in mainly on insulting, cussing, taunting, and baiting the officers who were there to keep the peace and refused to engage no matter what despicable things the individuals screamed at them. Many protesters said they were heading to MTSU next and some even jokingly said, “We gonna burn this mf to the ground.” Around 6:45 crowds of several people from the square but many new faces, were holding signs and blocking the intersection at MTSU.
An officer on Middle TN blvd U turned his vehicle and blocked traffic in-between me and the crowd (about 100 ft) where protestors were screaming out some of the same chants as well as a few “F the police/12.” The group was pushing through traffic to block the streets and utilizing vehicles as barriers. The situation was escalating. The police were instructed to enforce a mandatory curfew to prevent anything from going further, they gave several minutes notice over the loudspeaker that tear gas would be released if the crowd did not leave, and then they followed through, despite the fact that many remained with their kids. The children were at the front of the group. By the time I parked my truck at one of the many frat houses yards, and got out, there was a BOOM and then tear gas was released with smoke bombs. Everyone was burning. If you have never experienced tear gas, picture rubbing sliced ghost peppers on your eyes, nose, and mouth, then inhale. It was enough to make the crowd separate and people panic even more.
This day has been overwhelming emotionally and physically for so many of our community’s citizens and law enforcement/first responders. There are several evident things through all of this. Our people are crying out. They feel unheard. They feel targeted. Voices were heard today just like they have been heard at the other vigils and protests. Then people stop listening at the first sign of disorder. The moment that peaceful vigils turn to anything that even resembles riots, no one is listening anymore. The mayor of Atlanta said it best here. The focus is taken off of the movement and placed instead on the groups that are trashing the towns we love; tearing down the businesses we build up, white, black, and brown; vandalizing the community and painting it with shades of hate and dissension. After that, no-one listens anymore. It’s like yelling but no one can hear you. Now the audience is observing. Judging. Grieving. Placing blame. Don’t yell. Keep talking. It works. Keep sharing the videos from the beginning to end. We have to teach our kids to be better. We have to change our heart to be better. We have to love better.
Remember so many good police officers are on eggshells and so many black people wonder if they are next. This life is not easy. Let’s make it better for our kids and grandkids. Let’s spread love. Let’s be honest about history but move on from it. Let’s show our future that they can be what makes the world change. Let’s remember that law enforcement officers often feel that they can’t make the right choice no matter what they choose. It is a catch 22. We need to remember that not all officers are bad and not all black people are criminals. We all need love.