Peaceful protests promote cultural shift

3 years ago

To the editor:

In the June 10 edition, Larry Shea asked the question, “What have the protests [regarding George Floyd’s murder] produced?” I would like to offer a response. 

In his view, “protests have produced nothing but chaos, destruction and the likely spread of COVID-19.”

Since protests began on May 26, the Minneapolis PD banned the use of chokeholds while officers in Buffalo, NY and Atlanta, GA have been fired for excessive use of force. Cities around the country are taking a hard look at law enforcement cultures and systems that not only make it OK to kill people of color, but to stand by as others do so.  People of color have been empowered to share their experiences and many are listening as never before. Corporations are reducing racist imagery. I could go on.

Mr. Shea posits that since some protests turn violent, all protests should stop. This logic suggests that since some police murder people of color, all policing should stop. There are some arguing this approach. 

The person who initiated local protests, Otis Edgcomb, usually begins them with statements emphasizing his desire for peaceful events and encourages any disagreement be met with respect.  During the events I have attended, many participants have worn masks and remain physically distant. We do our best to encourage safe practices and know that many will not participate because of their health concerns. 

As a white person, I am committed to the life-long process of becoming anti-racist. This process begins with naming my racism and the ways I and all white people benefit from a system that defines all things white as normative. Information on local protests, book discussions, resources and other events is available on Facebook. Rather than being “irresponsible, selfish, ignorant and inconsiderate,” I invite Mr. Shea and others to participate in the moral revival and cultural shift that must someday result in justice for all.  

Meg Hegemann
Presque Isle