Photo of the panel at the Jefferson Memorial that says laws and systems must change.

Silence is Complicity

My friend Ben Mahler posted this graphic to his Facebook the other day, sharing his perspective on the current moment:

Monday night, we came inside at 7pm, to my son’s frustration and anger. Our city was under curfew. We didn’t know what to expect from the visiting national guardsmen and the federal police forces here. Would there be patrolling groups in our neighborhood, as there were in Pittsburgh and in Minneapolis? Would they be shooting rubber bullets at people on their porches, as there were in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis?

So we went inside. And Charlie raged. He was so angry at not being able to go play frisbee in the park, and I was scared to go out. I have lived in the Washington area for 20 years, and lived in the city for 10. At no time was I afraid to leave my home before the federal police and national guard occupation that began on Monday.

I am not afraid of my neighbors. I am not afraid of the protestors. I am not even afraid of those who are engaging in direct action with fire and spray paint. They are my fellow citizens.

I am afraid of federal police without identification and who are granted limitless qualified immunity to hurt, maim, and murder.

Charlie didn’t understand the curfew. He didn’t understand why we needed to be inside when it was perfect out. I can’t blame him. It’s hard to explain big concepts like structural racism, police violence, the dangers of having non-white skin in our broken society.

I can hide behind my whiteness.

I can hide.

He can hide.

My friends and their families cannot. I can’t be silent any longer.

We need to de-escalate the militarization of our police. We need to dismantle the unjust, structurally racist model of policing in America. We need to dismantle the racist outcomes of our charging system. We need to dismantle the racist outcomes of our justice system.

We need to live up to the high ideal that ALL people were created equal in the eyes of the law.

And we can’t be quiet about it any longer.

It is not enough to not be racist. It is a start to be anti-racist.

Black Lives Matter.

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