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Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Tale of Two Monuments

Here's a puzzling thought... a tale of two monuments. Both are in memory of young black men killed by law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Both have images of the dead captured in their caps and gowns, and both left grieving families behind. But this is where the comparison stops. See here the two monuments: Jimmie Lee Jackson killed by an Alabama State Trooper during the saga known as Bloody Sunday and the crossing of the Edmund Petus Bridge in my home town of Selma, Alabama. The second young man, Michael Brown, was killed by a Ferguson City Police Officer just this year. Both men died after being contacted by on-duty police officers. Both men died as a direct result of actions taken by the officer involved. But let's ask the question what were the actions of the young men that led to the actions that caused their deaths. Jimmy Lee was taking part in a lawful protest designed to gain the voting rights for him and other free Americans. Michael Brown had just committed a felony and was contacted as a result of his further disregard for the law. In both cases a struggled ensued and a death was the result. Now, before anyone gets upset and think that I am denying either of these two families the right to remember their loved ones in any fashion they see fit, I am not. That is not by desire nor is it my aim. What I am trying to do is save the lives of young people in the future. This country was founded on rebellion and rebellion is part of our national character. We rebelled against Mother England, and then later rebelled against ourselves. And to our shame we have developed a love relationship with the very spirit of rebellion and that sometimes without thinking about the cause or the why behind it. We have written books and made movies about Jessie James, a common thief and bank robber, and lifted him to the level of urban hero. We have built an entire subculture around the gangsters of the 20's and 30's and taken on their lore as a badge of honor. In all these things we never seem to stop and ask the question, "How many honest, good people died and have been hurt or their lives destroyed in order for Jessie James, Al Capone and those like them to build their legacy?" And this is my fear concerning Mr. Brown. Of all the many things he was, he was also a criminal and was killed as a result of actions he initiated. And I fear that there are other young men and women, perhaps like him, who are watching and will follow in his footsteps. Truth matters. Black Life Matters. White Life Matters. Brown Life Matters...and Cops Life Matters. Truth Matters. We have to get back to truth, if we do not; then our children and our children's children won't like the America that we have created for them. Just more of my ponderings.

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