The POWER of Protest, the NEED for Law Enforcement, and the PROTECTION of Justice
Many Americans have watched the country erupt in protests over the past week, thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the United States to denounce institutional racism and police violence. On May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota a 46-year-old unarmed African American named George Floyd was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a neighborhood grocery store. Caught on video for the world to see, Floyd was handcuffed face down on the street, a white male police officer is seen pressing his knee to Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, two other officers were holding him down, while another prevented onlookers from intervening. In the last three of those minutes, Floyd can be seen motionless and nonresponsive. These images triggered a wave of peaceful protests and violent rioting in many major cities across the United States.
Our Nation, our Laredo, is living in a time of uncertainty, injustice, unrest, and frustration. As attorneys who fight for the justice system and aim to continue to implement a better system—we are saddened by the current overall views of what ‘Justice’ means to the community and to our Country. When you utter “JUSTICE” some of the words that should come to mind are: fairness, equality, impartiality, honesty, righteousness, and integrity—however, those are not words that come to mind for many during this time.
How did we get here? Have we not risen above the inequities of the past as much as we thought we had? What can we do as individuals? As a community? All these questions came to mind while sitting outside our office watching a peaceful protest in front of City Hall. This particular protest was organized by Laredo citizens advocating against the use of excessive force by police officers, lack of police accountability, for equality for all races and ethnicities, and of course in remembrance of George Floyd whose life was taken in an abhorrent way and much too soon.
We were given certain unalienable rights to keep peace and order within our Nation. These rights are there to protect us from unfair treatment, inequality, and to hold us accountable for our actions.
Law enforcement exists for a reason. As a nation, we have always strived for freedom from oppression. Our freedom comes with a responsibility to be civil towards our fellow citizens and have respect for the laws enacted in this country. Respect for law enforcement is a vital part of that. We follow laws because this is the only way that a just society can function without turmoil and violence. While many protestors have been peaceful and have a right to question the laws governing our nation or individual law enforcement officers who abuse their authority, others have escalated protests to hateful rhetoric directed at the entire law enforcement establishment. Such rhetoric is extremely harmful to the relationship between law enforcement and our citizens which ultimately leads to even more distrust, over-reactions, and violence.
Our Nation and its citizens should hold law enforcement accountable for their misdeeds, but we must also recognize the important contribution that the men and women in law enforcement provide us in protecting and serving the citizens of this country. During these times of unease and mistrust, we must remember that there will always be good and evil.
Peaceful protests should encourage thoughtful discussions and seek peaceful solutions. We should not diminish the message with lawlessness and blind rage. The backlash against law enforcement should not distract from the real issues of social injustice. All lives matter, what we need now is a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue on both sides. We must protect blindly the rights of all and always stand up for what is just, right and true. It is about finding a balance and leading the conversations that take history into account, we must live in the present and plan for the future and in doing so we must come to appreciate our right to assemble and voice our opinions, the need for law enforcement, and the protection of justice for all. Having respect for law enforcement is critical. If you do not believe in the law and law enforcement officials, then how can you expect the law to protect you and your rights?
There is much we can learn from the peaceful protests used in the Civil Rights Movement and apply them to the injustices of today.
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice” -Dr. Martin Luther King
Gonzalez Druker Law Firm is committed to the protection of peaceful protesting. If you or anyone you know has been arrested for peaceful protesting, please contact our office for FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION.