In a letter to the Journal on June 24, Clifford Jordan argues that we need to see current protests more clearly. He sees them as glorifying an imperfect Black man and claims that a white criminal killed by police does not receive public outcry from the white community because they are happy to have that person “removed from society.“
I am a white woman asserting that all citizens, white, black or other, deserve a justice system where they are not arrested without probable cause. If a criminal complaint is made against them, they are charged, then given an opportunity to provide a defense, with the decision on the charge made by a judge or jury. Whether a black or white man is saint or sinner, upstanding or not, is irrelevant. They are citizens with a right to justice. That is the rule of law we believe in here in America. We do not live in a police state where the police are allowed to apprehend and execute someone at will.
There are no uprisings over white citizen “criminals” executed at will by police because that is very rare. On the other hand, cellphone and body camera footage is showing us that black American citizens actually do live in a police state, and that for them executions by cop are common. We are seeing that lethal choke-holds and gunshots in the back happen to black and brown men and women regularly. I believe most cops abhor these tactics, but when they occur, those cops must be held accountable for their actions. Cops are civil servants acting in our name. They should be there to help all citizens, not see some of us as the enemy.
I remember the Kerner Commission (1968) and many other commissions that have followed protests, but most places in America have seen no change as a result. This inequity -where blacks and whites do not get the same justice – is one example of what is called “systemic racism.” America has been blind to this problem, but now that we see it so vividly in front of us, we must act to resolve it now.
Mr. Jordan characterizes the current protests in terms of arson and looting, but that is not seeing them clearly. The vast majority of protests and protestors have been peaceful and respectful. The good news is that for the first time, the protestors I see on the news are mostly white folks marching with people of color. In fact, we had such a protest here in Friday Harbor. I am proud to stand with them for changes that will achieve equity and justice for all in the America I love.
San Juan Island