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Violence is not the path forward

By Kevin Martin

In the wake of the unjust murder of George Floyd, our cities descended into violence. Businesses were looted, thousands of buildings were burned, and, most importantly, people lost their lives. David Dorn, a 77-year-old man, was shot to death by a looter on June 2. On June 20, 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson was shot and killed in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone (known as CHOP/CHAZ) in Washington state. Nine days later a 16-year-old, Antonio Mays Jr., was also murdered in the zone. But of the long list of those who lost their lives to the chaos, the most heartbreaking was the shooting of Secoriea Turner, an 8-year-old girl.

Turner lost her life on July 4 in the violent unrest that engulfed Atlanta, Georgia following the police shooting and subsequent death of Rayshard Brooks. Her family was driving home from Independence Day celebrations; as they were driving, the family came across a protest zone that was out of the control of local authorities. The Turners were stopped and those occupying the zone fired upon them, ending the life of Secoriea. What all these shameful murders have in common is that the innocent victims were Black Americans; we, as a country, failed them.

Charmaine Turner, with her family gathered around her, speaks at the funeral service of her daughter, Secoriea Turner. (Source: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via The New York Times)

All of these inexcusable deaths could have been prevented had this country’s authorities, local and national, done their civic duty and kept the Black Lives Matter demonstrations from transforming into the violent outbursts we have witnessed. In the last week of August alone, we had two deadly shootings resulting in three deaths. The first was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the second in Portland, Oregon. Both shootings seem to have been the result of political ideologues clashing in the streets, unhindered by our government officials and unrestrained by the Police Departments in those cities. Furthermore, local governments have been unwilling or incapable of quelling the violence, leading to vigilante protection of private property.

This type of vigilante protection should not be the norm in a country such as ours; the police are the ones who are commissioned to protect Americans and their property. Plus, as we have seen in Kenosha, vigilantes are not received well by either protestors or rioters, and when both sides are armed, bloodshed is the all-too-frequent result.

We may be experiencing our country’s most uncertain period. A global pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands, while at the same time causing economic collapse and social disintegration. Nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations have, to the disappointment of decent Americans, turned violent. And finally, we are in a polarized election year, in which both sides have threatened to undermine the credibility of the election should their candidate not be the one to win, exacerbating the situation our country finds itself in.

It is well past the time for our politicians, our local leaders, and ourselves to stand up in opposition to the death and destruction that has gone untamed since the first days of June. Gruesome carnage is plaguing our cities, resulting in the death of innocents and the destruction of livelihoods. It is time to end the riots now. There can be no ifs or buts about it; our country cannot continue along this path. We can either move forward peacefully, bringing the necessary change that is demanded through the means at our disposal in this republic, or we can continue struggling violently against our fellow citizens, allowing our country to further descend into unnecessary tragedy. May God help us choose the former.

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