As an opinion writer the hardest struggle is to put emotions into words. The pandemic has not only unleashed a disease that disproportionally attacks African Americans, there’s still no national strategy as COVID-19 has raced through the south like Union soldiers during the Civil War. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the list goes on as people have marched in the name of Black Lives Matters. Not just in our urban centers but in small towns like Marcellus NY where they had their own march, the lead sign, “Black Lives Matters”.
In Syracuse, many have marched for 40 days in protest of police actions. Cities and communities across the country are reeling from the unprecedented direct action coming from the people.
Groups have met in virtual settings, and in person recently there was a forum presented by Mary Nelson’s Youth Center, regarding violence, there are a myriad of organizations marching, meeting and demanding an end to business as usual as it relates to policing.
And not to be left out of the conversation, violence that takes place between each other in the African American Community.
In times like these sometimes music has the answer, as I pondered what I would have to say about the tumultuous times we find ourselves in. It finally came in a word. Something that if taken seriously would be the magic pill that unites us, and perhaps steer some people away from violence against “each other”.
That word is Respect. The Staple Singers sanctified the word with the song, Respect Yourself. While Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, spelled it out for us; R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Respect: means if you’re in Law Enforcement, you respect the people you’ve been trained to “protect and Serve”.
Respect: means not shooting up a neighborhood party or a human being, it is like spitting in the communal cup, one from which everybody has to drink.
Respect: means if you’re the President of the Police Benevolent Association you respect the people who pay the salaries of your union members, as a “Leader” the PBA’s searing comments only serve to pour kerosene on dry shrubs, then turn around, drop a match and yell, FIRE!
Respect: means Jeff Piedmont negotiating as a member of a diverse dynamic community, not as an “occupier” We’ve all seen, The Black Panther, “Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, occupier!”
Respect: means not shooting anyone for any reason. Some would argue it’s societal pressures, others would call it bad choices. When you shoot someone in this community chances are, you are going to get caught. A buddy, a friend or and acquaintance will call the Tip Line.
Respect: means handling anger, and God knows there’s a lot to be angry about.
Respect: means governments and government officials having the proper supports for this community. Many of our young people struggle with, what is there to live for?
This is a simple resolution, Respect. What a novel idea?
If Mayor Ben Walsh, PBA’s Jeff Piedmont, Common Council President Helen Hudson and Chief Buckner; can get in the same room and on the same page, maybe, just maybe we can arrive at a place where mutual respect becomes common place.
The emotion coming from a diverse community is manifesting itself through direct action taken by various groups, including clergy. The constant adversarial relationship nourished by hyperbolic rantings from the PBA towards the people of this community must end otherwise, the only solution is to go the way of Camden, New Jersey. Rebuild a new modern Police Department from scratch.