I know I am not alone. A bitter, retching sickness in my stomach. Sick in my heart.
Like you, I watched in utter disbelief the slow motion video murder of George Floyd, 46 and black. What got to me most was not just the relaxed, in charge attitude of the murderer, knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, but the casual, business-as-usual manner of the second officer strolling about, as if to keep traffic moving and everyone calm as this black man goes down.
Were I a racial justice activist, I’d throw the list at you… names of young black men (and some children) dead at the hands of the authorities, or, in the case of Ahmaud Aubrey, by racist vigilantes. In 2020. In America. But I’m not that activist, and I can’t recite the names—but I’ve watched the same news reports as you have for far too long. The horror of George Floyd’s murder broke this camel’s back.
I have no idea how to the change the world, how to make this go away. But I am not sitting still for it.
My wife Brenda and I will be standing for George Floyd with sign in hand—LET AMERICAN BREATHE—on Marlboro Road in Easton from 10 till 11 AM tomorrow, Saturday, May 30th. Why? Because we need to do something for god’s sake, not just sit here reading the paper, saying “ain’t it awful.” Will doing this change a thing? Like you, I doubt it—but Dr. King thought otherwise. I am too old to not do what’s needed, what’s right—and that’s very simple: stand up for George Floyd.
We’d welcome company. Anyone else whose sick at heart and needs to say it aloud—please come. WEAR A COVID MASK. MAKE A LINE SIX FEET APART. At 10 am, we’ll be at the corner of Marlboro Road that is the very closest to McDonald’s—because on Saturday morning, it’s where the traffic is. If anyone else shows up, let’s just make a line–everyone six feet apart–down the whole length of Marlboro Road…fall in at the end, it’s that simple.
Bring any sign you want—just make some reference to “Geo. Floyd” (so folks don’t think this demonstration relates to the pandemic, a point that occurred to my wife). Or bring no sign at all. Just come and stand for Mr. Floyd.
If you think this invitation does not include YOU, you are wrong. Elderly—all the better: you know the bitter failure of anti-racist efforts since Selma (and bring a chair). Young—great, you can help salvage the future of America, if that’s doable. Rich—I sure hope so, negating the insidious idea that some “overclass” is happy to tolerate such suppression. Poor—speak out with your own voice, too long suppressed. Black—nothing this old white guy can say will add to the urgency. White—are we not the ones who need to stand up visibly, on the roadside, for Mr. Floyd, to say his death was as wrong as wrong can be? Partisan—leave it at home; the air every American has the right to breathe is neither blue nor red. The Religious—if not now, when?
Just please come out, for all that is decent in America.
Be orderly—a vigil like this (whether 1 or 5 or 50) wields its own power; it needs no shouting, no disorder (and of course never, ever anything like violence). It’s not a march, not interfering with a soul…unless that’s the very thing that’s touched by our action.
Even here in the rural Mid-Shore, we need to stand witness to this horrid crime, refuse to be silent and accept it.
Dan Watson is the former chair of Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership and has lived in Talbot County for the last twenty-five years.