This madness has to stop. Any normal human being watching the life slip out of George Floyd while a Police Officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes would get sick to their …
This madness has to stop.
Any normal human being watching the life slip out of George Floyd while a Police Officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes would get sick to their stomach.
That police officer, and the ones who stood by while Mr. Floyd begged for his life should and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The horrific scene caused protests across the globe.
Bravo to those who organized those peaceful protests and the good folks who joined them.
This column is not about those people.
It is about the opportunistic politicians, organizations and thugs who would selfishly steal the moment for their own agendas.
From the thugs who trashed businesses (many of which were minority-owned businesses) to the pampered phonies in Hollywood who are actually calling for the defunding of Police Departments (like John Legend and Natalie Portman), their actions are not only selfish and ridiculous, but dangerous.
We Rhode Islanders take a back-seat to no one when it comes to protests against governments, bad actors, and those that would oppress us.
We are the State that welcomed Roger Williams after Massachusetts threw him out for proposing religious freedom.
We are the state that actually started the American Revolution against oppressive England, when John Brown and the boys burned Her Majesty’s Ship, the Gaspee, off the shores of Warwick.
And we are the state that was the last to join the Union under the Constitution of 1787, because we held to our principles of among other things, religious freedom and the abolition of slavery.
From a personal standpoint, I came of age during the Vietnam War era when my generation, particularly after Woodstock, became aware and motivated.
I can still recall on the anniversary of the Kent State University slaying of four students by the National Guard, when my college in Vermont staged a protest to remember – which included students walking around holding up four fingers to remember the atrocity.
The video of Mr. Floyd is as repulsive as the photos of slaves chained together in long-boats, heading for their life of misery, or the crack of a bullwhip in the hands of a Plantation owner.
But now, that promise of a real national conversation about race is being squandered by those who have hijacked the discussion for their own purposes.
Defund the Police?
Sheer lunacy. Or worse.
Sure, there are some bad police officers.
We saw them with our own eyes.
But 99% of our police officers are hard working, dedicated people who risk their lives every day to protect you and I.
And they do so with pay that does not equal their sacrifice and risk.
As a former Mayor of West Warwick, I witnessed things few people see.
Things like drug and alcohol fueled rages that could have led to people being killed, if it were not for the well-trained and gutsy actions of the police.
Or the tense moments when a domestic disturbance escalates to a point where children are in peril.
If someone tried to harm your family, that’s who you would call.
Not a member of a group hell-bent on tearing down our country.
Yes, there are bad police officers.
There are bad doctors, nurses, teachers and priests. No group is exempt.
But if we allow this madness to continue without speaking out to support our police and for that matter all of our first responders and military personnel, we will lose our country.
Let the Hollywood phonies pontificate about defunding the police while they are surrounded by their private security details.
Let the Nancy Pelosi’s of the world talk about confiscating our guns while she has armed guards everywhere she goes.
But let’s have a real discussion about race and police operations.
I’m sure the police would be the first ones to sign up to attend.
J. Michael Levesque, a former West Warwick Mayor, is a regular columnist for the Rhode Island Echo and an occasional contributor to these newspapers. He lives with his family in the Buttonwoods section of Warwick.