By Susannah Abbey
On Sunday, May 31, the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice along with Black Lives Matter organized a candlelight vigil for George Floyd, killed last week by Minneapolis Police and a peaceful protest to honor those who have lost their lives due to racism and police brutality. Hundreds of people convened at University and Central in Albuquerque and marched down Central Avenue to Robinson Park, where they observed a moment of silence before returning to UNM. The march was uniformly peaceful from beginning to end. The violence, looting and vandalism downtown were not related to the Peace and Justice/Black Lives Matter march.
Republican Donald Trump has labelled the protesters ‘terrorists’ and called on police to ‘dominate’ them. This not only puts protesters in danger, but police as well, as it bolsters the antagonism and fear many people already have toward policing tactics that are considered racist and inhumane.
Yes, there are always people who try to hijack a legitimate demonstration to vent their own anger, and police who instigate violence. But there were also demonstrations where the police themselves knelt during minutes of silence to protest excessive force.
Initially, Minneapolis police reported that George Floyd was “drunk,” and “out of control,” and in the process of committing a crime. No matter what crime they arrested him for, it was no crime that warranted the death penalty. Furthermore, institutional racism, which creates the conditions for such tragedies, is part and parcel of the social and economic inequality antithetical to our democratic principles. We must not let rage and violence become the baseline from which we operate. After peacefully gathering to express ourselves, the best way for us to combat the scourge of racism is to get out and vote.