Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 11, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments

BLM Peace March


I am not an authority on race relations.

I am not an authority on policing.

I am not an expert on conflict resolution.

I am not a historian.

Last Saturday, June 6,2020, I attended one of the most extraordinary events I have ever witnessed in our small town. The Black Lives Matters Peaceful March was an opportunity for our community to come together to acknowledge that there is a problem. The recent death of a young African American man at the hands of police was the catalyst for the rally. George Floyd’s death sparked outrage all over the world.

When I heard about the march, I mentioned to one of my daughters that I expected the usual suspects to attend. I have attended other peaceful demonstrations in our community in the past and every time I, go, I see a group of people deeply committed to social justice. She suggested that this was one gathering that I really must attend.

I didn’t take lightly my decision to be a participant. Like so many other people, the coronavirus has made me leery about being in any crowds. Like so many other people, I have recoiled watching other demonstrations, wondering and worrying about social distancing. I felt like people were being irresponsible. The easy thing to do was to stay home.

My son and I decided to go to listen and to learn. It was a calculated risk to go. I cannot speak for black people but from what I know and from everything I’ve read, it appears that black people take a calculated risk every time they leave their homes. For more than 400 years, people of color have faced discrimination and racism. And lest we think that somehow we in Canada are “holier than thou”, we don’t have to look far to see examples of systemic racism including racial profiling, racial slurs, and acts of violence perpetrated on people because of the color of their skin.

Columbus Field is just around the corner from where I live. We put on protective face masks and made the short walk to where the rally was being held. After several months of our Main Street being a virtual ghost town, on this evening it was jammed with vehicles as a steady stream of people made their way towards the meeting place.

It was quite a spectacle. In all my years, I had never seen such a large group of people assembled in our town. People filed in slowly and 95% of them were wearing masks. Those who didn’t have masks were offered one by a team of volunteers including a local physician. People at the entrance were asking people to show respect by exhibiting social distancing practices.

I am 68 and in the “at risk” category. I do not have underlying health issues, but my age is a factor. I made a conscious decision to stay near the outer edges of the field. There were groupings of family bubbles. From where I was standing it appeared that most people were keeping their distance.

There were several speeches which were heartfelt and dignified. We were all asked to take a knee for 8:46. I was standing on gravel and then I was kneeling on gravel. I will admit that it was uncomfortable. That is, until I started thinking about the incident in Minneapolis. You could hear a pin drop as a hush fell over the crowd, estimated at upwards of 4,000. I’m guessing that there was emotional discomfort for many in the crowd as well thinking about our own contributions to the problem while wondering if we could be a part of the solution.

The march itself was very well organized. While video and still pictures make it look like people were bunched up, there was actually quite a bit of space between walkers. Again, one realized that some groupings were family bubbles. I don’t believe that anyone in attendance was being selfish, reckless or inconsiderate by taking part. Was it perfect? No, but nothing in this world is as far as I can tell.

I saw people from every walk of life. It was pretty obvious that they too had weighed the pros and cons of attending and decided that staying home was simply not an option.

I was barely back home when invective spewed forth on social media. I was immediately lumped in with thousands of others who, in the eyes of some, lacked intelligence by attending the march. “There is no cure for stupid” was a common thread “liked” by several people on Facebook. I have seen this epithet used widely, and in many circumstances, it is warranted. There might not be a cure for stupidity but there is also no place for racial intolerance.

We all want things to return to normal, whatever that is but one believes that there are some things that need to change because the way people of color are treated is simply not acceptable.

As mentioned from the outset, I am NOT an expert on policing. I haven’t been a police officer, so I don’t understand the inherent risks and challenges of the job. My guess is that a great percentage of law enforcement officers are decent, caring people. Policing of towns and cities is under the microscope and the whole notion of “defunding” police forces is quickly becoming a part of our new lexicon along with flattening the curve.  Many are suggesting that the present- day model of policing needs a serious overhaul with some of the money spent on policing being diverted to other programs.

One model is being closely examined. The city of Eugene ,Oregon has a program called CAHOOTS which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on The Streets. CAHOOTS provides mobile crisis intervention. ( According to their website, “Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) and a crisis worker who has at least several years of experience in the mental health field.” Check out their website.

The pandemic is causing seismic changes all over the world. It is hard to imagine that things will ever be the way they used to be. This is a once in a generation “re-set” where everything is being re-evaluated.

This might be the best opportunity in decades, if not centuries, where we have a chance to right some historic wrongs.

Black Lives Matter.

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