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Thursday, October 27, 2016

“There’s something happening here.” — Buffalo Springfield

“Can you feel it?” — The Jacksons

They have not stopped.

That’s one of the most heartening things about the demonstrations against police brutality that began with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August and renewed with a grand jury’s decision last week not to indict a New York police officer who choked Eric Garner to death. In a nation with the attention span of a toddler in the toy department, the focus on this issue has not wavered, as evidenced by several demonstrations last weekend in Miami.

And most people, remember, are marching in places far less hospitable to outdoor protest than South Florida. It’s December, after all, and while it’s a balmy 74 degrees in Miami as these words are written, it is 45 in Ferguson, where they protested in the rain Friday night and 28 in New York, which has seen continuous demonstrations the last few days. The fact that these actions continue nationwide as the weather turns and have even spread across the ocean (there was a protest last month at the U.S. Embassy in London) is a sign this issue has staying power.

But what’s even more noteworthy is that this is not a “black” protest. To the contrary, images from these demonstrations show us that a rainbow coalition is offended by the message the injustice system sends in refusing to punish these killings, i.e., that it is somehow “OK” to kill unarmed African-American men and boys.

This very weekend, churches of many different denominations are holding “Black Lives Matter” services, calling on congregants to dress in black and pray in solidarity with those who seem to always end up on the short end of “justice.”

Take it as a reminder that people who are not black nevertheless have the ability to locate — and defend — the humanity of people who are. It is a reminder particularly apropos to a season where we often preach, but too seldom practice, peace on Earth and good will toward men and women. It is also a welcome rebuke of an era wherein certain media outlets and political figures discourage us from seeing ourselves in the faces of others.

Instead, they invite us to scorn those who love, worship, look, or behave differently, or who have less material wealth than ourselves. They tell us to victimize the vulnerable, as if those people did not want the things we all want, as if their fundamental humanity were somehow less than our own.

This rainbow coalition of protest seems a long overdue shout of resistance from the rest of us. To watch people take to the streets day after day — some in foolish and self-destructive violence, yes, but many more in dignified and creative civil disobedience — is to entertain a question as tantalizing as it is unanswerable. Is this the birth of a movement?

One is mindful of the folly of attempting to read the future. Remember how quickly the Occupy movement went from boom to bust?

Yet one is also mindful of something Occupy demonstrated and these protests reiterate: There is a great pent-up energy among us, a yearning and demand from people fed up with the calumnies, evasions, expediences and pious hypocrisies that have too long been paraded as moral rectitude. But real moral rectitude would not turn a blind eye to Michael Brown or Eric Garner. Nor to the hungry, the demonized, the poor or the stranger at the gate yearning to breathe free.

This month makes 59 years since another group of Americans similarly fed up with false moral rectitude gathered at a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, a 26-year-old preacher named King detonated all that pent-up energy, distilled their stored-up pain, frustration and resentment into eight simple words: “There comes a time,” he said, “when people get tired.”

Is it too much to hope that time has come again?

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected]

Photo: Protesters march on Hollywood Boulevard on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Los Angeles. A group calling itself Black Out Hollywood planned the protest against police violence, and the march ended where police shot and killed a knife-wielding man on Friday night. (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

  • johninPCFL

    The “Grand Jury” scam isn’t working anymore. The grand jury system allows the prosecutor to present evidence of a crime and receive feedback that allows criminal prosecution to move forward. Typically, only the evidence suggesting a crime was committed is ever presented, and the results are not taken as writ by God. These panels were deluged by conflicting evidence and had no way of interrogating the “witnesses” directly in any depth (nor was it their job to do so.)
    The direction of the questioning, the already-known answers, and the limiting of the evidence are all strategies designed to give the appearance of fairness and “I’ve done all I can”, while at the same time carefully steering the juries to a pre-ordained outcome.

    • whodatbob


      • joe schmo

        Double BS. It is working just fine. They are still abiding by the laws of the land. Your idea of fairness is warped. After all, we are still a nation of laws. At least, somewhat.

        • WhutHeSaid

          Once we are finished stomping out all of you racists and bigots, we’ll be a lot closer. Better get your pitiful squealing out while you still can.

          • joe schmo

            You are the reason this country is dying……..Won’t you be happy when you finally get your Marxist way:)

            Not so sure it will work. Decadence never does last for long.

          • WhutHeSaid

            Opposing crime isn’t really decadence, now is it? We see that you support crime, but I’m afraid that bigoted hate isn’t enough to convince the majority that we should suddenly approve of crime — by anyone. Sorry ’bout your luck.

          • joe schmo

            Funny you should mention that because you Liberals really should admit that you are more bigoted than Conservatives ever were.

  • joe schmo

    Dumb shits. Go figure it’s Berkley. The school that let’s the bums hang out on campus. Know people who have a son going to this school. Funny how just having your car parked near the campus gets ALL your belongings stolen.

  • TMZ1928

    What crap! These “protests” are organized and orchestrated by groups like Obama’s Organizing for Action, which morphed out of his re-election campaign, and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Obama had a meeting with Sharpton and other agitators at the White House on November 5 where he told them to “stay the course” on Ferguson. Interesting that the “spontaneous” demonstrators had identical professionally-produced signs.

    • WhutHeSaid

      Can you hear that sound? It’s the sound of the world busy stomping out racists and bigots. Your dark, fetid little world is getting smaller by the hour. Better get your pathetic squealing out while you still can — it’s the sweet music of success!

      • Daniel Max Ketter

        Well said

  • DoctorFaustroll

    What we need are good NRA people who are willing to stand up to the pigs. You remember the pigs, right?

    When they kill you, they don’t remember you.

    Listen to Zappa’s Trouble Coming Every Day on the Freak Out album.

    • Daniel Max Ketter

      Sorry, we don’t need no NRA whack jobs

      • DoctorFaustroll

        What the hell is an NRA whack job, besides a card-carrying member? Shoot me now, baby, me and Lapierre all night long.

  • Whatmeworry

    Its a reflection of the unwashed and low information libs

    • Daniel Max Ketter

      Gee, If it wasn’t for Rainbow, then we would still have “coloreds only” drinking fountains and bigotry would be on the rise