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George Floyd Protest Riots

All over the news lately has been the George Floyd protest riots. You can't escape it. Turn on the radio, there's some update. Radio foodie show, changed in format to cover it with the "reporter in the streets" segments and interviews.

person holding flare

Now, I don't get much into some topics. Race, no, politics, nuh-uh. Do I want to jamb by religious beliefs down your throat? No. I'd rather that you believe as I do, but God calls you to that, I am only support staff, if you will. Ha, and I'm not very good at that, either.

On the other hand, I am a living, breathing person who happens to know a lot of people of every persuasion, color, ethnicity, religious belief. What I can say is, you be you, and I'll be me. Yet, on this topic, with the protest riots in motion, I must stop and think about what it all means, Maybe you can too?

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George Floyd Protest Riots

Remembering George Floyd: Devoted father, 'gentle giant' | USA ...
Being in southern California, I can relate to both the protests here, as well as other cities. However, I relate far easier to those right here at home.

Just in case you have been living in a cave, here is video of Mr. Floyd's run in with police. An encounter that ended his life.
George Floyd Death Video
George Floyd Protest Riots - His Death

8 Minutes and 46 seconds. Sit down and time that. Former officer Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's neck/throat that long. Floyd was pinned down by 4 officers. Face down. With his hands cuffed behind his back. His knee was on Floyd's neck 3 full minutes after Floyd stopped moving, 2 minutes after Floyd stopped showing any signs of life!

Did you know George Floyd said, before his passing on the ground "Don't kill me." "Mama," I can't breath." I'm about to die."
What the hell! This, all over a supposed counterfeit $20 bill?

The Riots

I, for one, do not believe breaking things and stealing stuff is the answer to the death of a man at the hands of police. Protest, yes. Maybe even riot, if that's what it takes to get the point across, but where does rioting, and the destruction of other innocent parties property get you? How does it bring justice to the slain civilian?
In two words: it doesn't.

Link to looting video

The protest began in Minneapolis Saint Paul (the Twin Cities), and escalated to riots. This spread to other cities and states rapidly. Arizona is currently on lock down with a curfew. Los Angeles is under siege from within. There are protestors even in London, England, chanting "No Justice No Peace." what do you think of that, former officer Chauvin?

Where are there riots protesting the death of George Floyd?
Atlanta. Bakersfield. Boston. Chicago. Columbus OH. Dallas/Ft. Worth. De Moines. Denver. Detroit. Washington DC. Houston. Los Angeles. Louisville. Memphis. Minneapolis. New York city, Phoenix. Portland. Sacramento. San Jose.

The military has already been called into many of these areas. Martial declared in some. All over a bad bill, and a jerk cop.

"But, that Floyd guy had a criminal record." Who gives a hoot about that, the man died, that is not equal, in any way! He died to bully police misconduct. Maybe Chauvin wanted to teach this guy a lesson. Some lesson, huh.

Who Am I to Say?

I'm a white man who grew up in Orange County, California. At the time O.C. was overwhelmingly white and middle class. I'm a suburban white boy. in other words. I knew relatively few "people of color," especially people who were African-American, and even less of those who were from disadvantaged areas. I think there were maybe 3 people who were African-American (I really hate the hyphens, from here on out, I'll just go with black people) in my high school. Of those, each were pretty outstanding people.

On the other hand, there was an instance when a buddy and I were riding mopeds (they were not yet un-cool. No, really!) out towards Los Angeles when a great big black man riding shotgun in a moving van threatened our lives. "Keep going white breads, I gonna kill you up here.." However, looking back, I'm 100% certain that he was toying with the O.C. white boys. Still, not much exposure to people who happened to be black.

Gaining Exposure

Stick with me here, I promise this is going somewhere.
Over time I started a new job in the Inland Empire (which is basically Riverside and San Bernadino counties). Eventually I knew that at some point I'd have a partly, to mostly, black crew of workers.

I ran retail fast food establishments for a large chain. Never did I fail to hold my sales stable, and 98% of the time I raised sales by as much as 100%. This was done by utilizing my crews to their fullest. I put in place the right places stellar people. With them, we turned out the best product as quickly and accurately as possible.

I had to wonder, how would this work out, this difference in culture? Would it be a culture shock? Would I fail? Nope.

Stick with me here, I promise this is going somewhere.

Changing Stores

This chain had a habit of moving managers around, seeking to maximize sales and create solid, well run stores. When you rocked it, you went to the next higher volume store, until you arrived at the vanguard, the top stores.

I was sent to two stores in Moreno Valley, California, a city known to have a high and growing black population. The first one, the roster of workers read that way, Erick and Ericka. Yvettia, I was surprised and a little disappointed when, again, white bread crew! The next store I went to was formerly a top store that was in huge disarray. It has fallen to 11th place of the 30+ stores we operated. That roster read white crew too, but I was surprised when I found it just the opposite. Now was my test. Could I be with, live with, work with a crew that was 90% black?

Yep. We took the laughingstock, "F-Troop-esque" store to #1.

What did I learn?

Work as a team, and always respect your people. Always let them have, and keep, their dignity. You will nearly always get that back, maybe even multiplied. The crew members who wanted to advance and to run their own stores got the chance. I trained the folks that were off to run their own franchises on off-shoot companies, and the ones to who would run our stores as well. I was a training manager running a super-store as well, so I had that prerogative.

What does this have to do with the George Floyd protest riots? A lot, and I'm glad you asked.

Double facepalm George Floyd Protest RiotsOh, and the CEO of that company? He stated many times that "One day I want a black man, or a woman, to run my company. I want people to know I'm not racist or sexist." Facepalm! "You know, boss, that statement is both racist and sexist, right?" He never could understand that point.

At Present

While I write this, at this time, I work in a crew that is 75% black, and I love it! I'm not some "Blackophile" or anything. I don't hate my own race. As a matter of fact, I seldom think of race at all.

One lady I work with, who happens to be black, said it best a couple days ago in a conversation with a former co-worker who was trash talking the protesters on social media:

"You will never know what it's like to be considered, and treated,  a criminal, or viewed as a threat because you're black man wearing a hoodie. Your son can pass as white [the former co-worker is Mexican], and neither you, nor he, will never know the pain of being profiled, detained, ticketed, jailed, or beaten, or killed, for the simple fact that you're black."

She's absolutely right. Actions always speak louder than words.

Rodney King Was Not the First

A lot of the media outlets, at least in the L.A. market, have been comparing the current George Floyd protest riots to the Rodney King protests and riots of 1992. While that is a decent benchmark, (for lack of a better word), this sort of thing, race riots, have been going on for a really long time. Race riots existed after the Rodney King incident, and well before. What I found in researching race riots for this article is that "back in the day" - a relative term - was that often white people were doing the burning, killing, beating, and looting.

This article runs down quite a few of them, starting in 1898.
Article on Race Riots Link

Rodney King

Rodney King image in George Floyd article

The Rodney King incident of 1992, however, is still relevant today, as is the Michael Brown incident of 2014. Some of you reading this were not yet born for the former, but the latter was just a few short years ago.

In the Rodney King incident, late Mr. King was beaten senseless by fired up cops lacking self control. It was adrenaline after a dangerous high speed chase. At least that is the narrative officials would have you hear. Mr. King, who was on parole for armed robbery, broke the law and put in officers and the general public in danger. Not only did he flee the police at high speeds, but he was also intoxicated during the high speed chase. No question he was in the wrong. The 15 minute beating Mr. King was given, which was captured on video, was street justice. No question. This occurred in 1991,

In 1992 the officers were tried for use of excessive force, a no-brainer, yet they were acquitted. The city of Los Angeles erupted! Protests started, which turned into riots. This frequently happens.

Later, all four of the cops who beat Mr. King lost their jobs, two were jailed for 30 months for violating Mr. King's civil rights, and the city of L.A. paid out a settlement to Mr. King. Oh, that's tax payer money, by the way, paid out to a law breaking man who was wronged, due to the stupidity of bad cops.

A Long History

Police beatings are not just a black thing. I know people, plenty of them, who have been beaten by police in violation of their civil rights. I myself have been threatened by police officers, simply as a show or "power and authority." Back in the 60's and 70's, if you looked like a hippy, you were going to get beat by police if you ventured into signal Hill, in Long Beach, California. Your race made no difference, the cops there were equal opportunity abusers.

The point is, be it in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or anywhere else for that matter, being a cop can be a sucky job. People hate you. You pretty much have to be a jerk most of the time. You could get killed in the line of duty. However, you CHOSE to become one. You can retire early, you get great benefits. Camaraderie.

But what you do NOT get to do is abuse people and disregard their civil rights.

Michael Brown Incident

Yesterday I was briefly on Facebook, and again this morning. Reading through a few posts prompted me to switch topics. I was going to write on SpaceX and their recent launch of astronauts, returning the U.S. to space. At $85,000,000 per person, Soyez capsules make a lousy Russian Uber.
However, sure enough, there were incendiary posts of both sides. A topic change was necessary.

"This is Trumps fault. Trump's white supremacist ideology is killing black people." "Why are riots always happening when Republicans run things?" "This never happened when Obama was in the White House..." All factually incorrect, on so many levels.

Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, August 9th, 2014. Brown was 18 years old. Obama left office January 20th, 2017. And, Trump's White Supremacist ideology? Really? I'm no Trump lover (ewww) but, seriously, give it a rest already. It's very annoying when people turn everything into a political fiasco. "Why isn't Trump putting a stop to this? I hate him!" And, you'd still hate him if he did.

Brown's Killing

The Michael Brown Incident Revisited

Eyewitness statements, that corroborate each other, clearly indicate Brown was the aggressor. He had a chip on his shoulder. He was having a bad day. Brown attacked, regardless. See this article. Read the whole thing. I read this, and more, in researching the topic.

There are eyewitness statements that contradict those eyewitnesses. Brown was shot in the back. He was surrendering. Brown had his hands up. However, all three autopsies disprove these statements.
Forensic evidence clearly shows Brown was advancing on the officer, and that the officer was walking backwards when he fired on Brown. Pro-Brown witness statements changed, or were embellished, as time passed.

However, Johnson, Brown's pal, also gave testimony that is compelling. Johnson stated that Wilson tried throwing open his car door, it hit the him and Brown, which infuriated Wilson. I could totally see that happening!

On the other hand, I'd be willing to wager that Wilson was not kind, respectful, or polite, either, in telling Brown and his buddy Johnson, to get out of the street.

Wilson was Cleared of Wrong Doing

Maybe office Darren Wilson was a good cop, or maybe he was a bad cop. Wilson was cleared of wrong doing by the Grand Jury, never-the-less. And boom, Ferguson, Missouri, erupted with protests, follow by riots.

Wilson may not have been the bad guy in this, but again, I'll bet his being a jerk initially escalated the tension quickly.

There is no excuse

Two wrongs never make a right. And hundreds of wrongs don't either. Killing a civilian is not okay. And neither is looting. The rioting, it is costing you, and everyone else who pays taxes, money. The looting costs merchants money.

We've been through a lot, here in 2020. Covid 19, and how it impacts us all. Loss of jobs and wages. Tumbling stock markets, Riots. An election coming.

I think it can be summed, even if oversimplified, with Rodney Kings words during the L.A. riots:
"Can we all just get along?"

~~~~~~

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