Whose community? Ours or out of towners?
An open letter: Black Lives Matter, NAACP, and out of town demonstrators:
We know protesters mean well, but continued protest outside the Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis raises serious questions about your true goals as you cause divisions within leaders of our community, not only in North Minneapolis, but across the metropolitan area.
We all, Black and White, sympathize with your cause, but not your methods. When you push people away and won’t wait for all the evidence (preferring to “shoot first and ask questions later”), you hinder civil rights struggles, causing people who want to help and invest in our communities to shy away from doing so.
This is OUR community, OUR city, not yours. Disrespecting us, trashing and blocking our streets, blocking access to public transportation, creating problems for our elderly and those travelling to work by bus, won’t help the cause of civil rights as you disrespect and undermine it.
When the mayor and key Black leaders and Jamar Clark’s family asked you to stop your demonstrations and violence, you said “No.” As Minnesota U.S. Representative Keith Ellison said about the result of your efforts: “The unintended effect is domestic terrorists are coming to the protest to start trouble.” Hopefully, when this column is published, you will have come to your senses and dispersed.
Honor the statements of the State of Minnesota and the federal government that they will release the video that shows the conflict that cost 24-year-old Jamar Clark his life. That it may not prove your case is another reason why it is important to wait for the completion of the investigation.
We live in a nation of laws established to protect both majority and minority. We do it better than any other country. We, including many of our Black communities, are the envy of the world. Your ability to demonstrate and say what you will is because you are protected by the Constitution’s fifth and 14th amendments regarding “due process” (the state must respect all legal rights of individuals, protecting them from excess use of the law).
There are Black attorneys on both sides of this conflict. What startles us are the law school professors leading you to betray our laws, especially the very parts they learned that were established to protect your due process.
Why doesn’t your concern for justice take you to demonstrate before the front doors of the Office of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI? Saying “to hell with due process” strips the protection it gives you, which is why your law school teachers’ unconcern with due process is scary.
You have inspired silent White clergy to openly criticize our Black clergy and Congressman Keith Ellison, accusing them of being out of step. You undermine civil rights struggles by casting aside due process and equal protection under the color of law, enabling chaos and anarchy.
Your saying that it is time for old leadership to move on and that we should then, as a community, accept this new guard is common, misplaced youthful exuberance. It has been a common complaint since ancient Greece 2,500 years ago.
Your premise that due process and constitutional guarantees may be dismissed and abandoned because you don’t like something is an invitation to anarchy at the expense of freedom and liberty. It is not the tradition and history of the African American to embrace anarchy and dismiss the rights of others, nor is it what allowed us to gain the attention of America over the past 100 years in our struggle for equality of opportunity for not only the sons and daughters of the African but for the sons and daughters of all citizens, all protected by the doctrine of equal protection under the law.