Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
Plain and simple, George Lloyd was murdered by white Minneapolis policemen simply because he was black. No question about it. He was arrested for a minor offense, never resisted, posed no threat to the officers or society, yet was brutally murdered.
As day follows night, protests sprang up throughout our land. The protests were, and are, fueled not just by the murder of George Lloyd, but the murders and suspicious deaths of more than just a few African-American men and women in recent years and the frustration of repeated incidents with no change.. I am struck by the diversity of the peaceful protesters as shown on TV – young and old, black, white and brown, men and women. Exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, peaceful assembly and petition of grievances. We must listen to them in order to stop once and for all the cycle of atrocity, protest, and platitudes without solution
Unfortunately, following on the heels of the protests were the riots and looting. And,as we know, those instigating the violence and doing the looting were not the protesters but persons who sought to gain personally by inciting clashes with the police or National Guard and/or using the violence as cover to loot and steal. These few bad apples seek to poison and obscure the real reasons for the protests for their own purposes unrelated to the murders. They should be brought to justice but not the focal point of the response to the legitimate protests.
- I blame the mayors and governors for the weak and late response to the riots and looters. It doesn’t take a rocket science to know, based on repeated history, that a heinous murder such as took place in Minneapolis will lead to mass protests with the high probability of violence and looting. Every such incident since at least the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,in 1968 has followed the same pattern. There should have been contingency plans in place in each state and major municipality that could quickly be implemented to permit peaceful protests yet prevent violence and looting.Here in Texas we have lots of planning for hurricanes – why not peaceful protests.
- The cure for these events lies not exclusively with reforms in policing. There must be a true shift in our society from top to bottom. I an a 71 year old white male. I grew up in a blue collar family in Enid, Oklahoma. Not poor but certainly not rich. Just had enough to be comfortable. Went to college and, after the military and Foreign Service, law school. Worked hard and made a decent living and life as an attorney. Have more than I ever dreamed of back in Oklahoma. And every step of the way I benefited from, without knowing it, my skin color. Getting loans for school or house, job interviews, attracting clients, joining social groups, etc. Being white greased the skids, so to speak. I’m not saying I would not have succeeded if I had been black or brown, but it certainly would have been more difficult. Until recently, I did not see, or refused to acknowledge, the white privilege and advantage.I had enjoyed. In my own mind I had worked hard and earned all I had. Which is true. But, I had help.
- Until society – i.e., we – accept and act to eliminate the unearned white privilege so there truly is a level playing field, we can bank on repeated outbreaks such we have witnessed the past week, and many times before. Do I have the magic formula? Heck, no! I look to our elected leaders to meaningful move toward eliminating the uneven playing field, to inspire us all to realize for all Americans the promises in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
STAY TUNED !