Our Opinion: We need to stop the cycle of violence
It's easy to allow the fallout of George Floyd's murder -- the images of looting, violent confrontation, heated rhetoric, destroyed neighborhoods -- to distract from the real issue.
The issue: once again a community and a country is hurting and seeking answers as to why a black man's encounter with police officers ended in his death.
We have a long way to go to get to that answer. We need to start by listening to the concerns of the black community and engaging in meaningful dialogue.
Instead, images of peaceful protesters in the wake of Floyd’s death were taken over by a narrative of destruction and violence. Neither act as means to an end here.
Violence should not beget violence. And those that practice in it should be held accountable.
That’s one message people should take away from this past week’s events in Minneapolis and across the country.
The rioters took something meaningful and turned it into destruction, which became the focal point of our national discussion for several days.
In Brainerd, we’re glad the message was not hijacked. Protesters on multiple days peacefully assembled at the corners of South Sixth and Washington streets and made their feelings known to the world. Protesters gathered peacefully in Pequot Lakes as well.
The protests were, by all accounts, well attended and received by area residents.
“You don’t know how many people stand behind you and how many people care about the things you’re passionate about,” Davonn Epps told a Dispatch reporter at the May 28 protest. “It’s a breath of fresh air and relieving to know that so many people care about their neighbors and their fellow black people, or any person of color really. It warms my soul. It has to keep growing. We have to build up a resistance.”
It is always encouraging to see citizens exercising their First Amendment rights and our residents here did it right. We hope people will listen to their message.
That message is, and will continue to be, racism exists and we need to get the heart of why and demand change. As a society we don’t yet have all the answers and we doubt there is just one, but we have to start somewhere and keep it going.
A first step might be to look at the culture within police departments, specifically with the union that represents officers. It would seem that for far too long a protectionist mentality has enabled a few bad police officers to operate without being held accountable for their actions. It certainly would appear so in the case of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged for Floyd’s murder. Most police officers are good and do their jobs with integrity. The bad few, however, are a disservice to all law enforcement.
Change is never easy but it is necessary, and it needs to start now. If we do nothing, the cycle of racism and violence will only perpetuate. We shouldn’t allow that to happen. We need to listen instead of react. Until we do, there will be no real chance for meaningful healing and progress.