We need more peacemakers

My Nikkel’s Worth column

In a teaser for his late-night talk show, Stephen Colbert noted he was preparing for Monday night’s show after being off for 10 days, and was surprised that during a global pandemic, this was not the leading story in the news.

Without stating it out loud, Colbert was right, because in the United States and in many other places around the world, the country-wide protests over the death of George Floyd by a police officer was far and away the leading item.

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It’s astounding how from this tragic event caught on video and viewed millions of times on every platform known to man, the protests have mushroomed to hundreds of cities across the U.S. and spilled over the borders to Canada and other countries.

I think partly what we’re seeing is all the pent-up frustrations of people locked down because of COVID-19, and angered by the blatant racism of an officer crushing the neck of an unarmed black man until he was dead. There is anger also for the officers who were enabling him by watching and not stopping the actions of the officer in question.

The issue of racism has simmered and boiled in the U.S. for generations, and it’s clear it is a continuing burning issue in that country, and in other countries, including ours.

What is galling is how the protests were commandeered by mobs into violence that included burning and looting stores. The protests should be peaceful, as the victim’s brother pleaded for at the scene of Floyd’s death on Monday.

The criminal acts of looting stores, with people brazenly running in, grabbing anything they wanted and running out again without any evident conscience has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of racism.

It’s unfortunate that the U.S. president only focussed on the looting and arson, and not on the issues around the killing of Floyd in the first place, and is threatening to clamp down with the military like he was a South American dictator.

There were glimmers of decency out of all that, such as a group of civilians who had formed a ring around a police officer who was cut off from his brethren, to protect him from the rampaging criminals. Also, the scenes of people coming out after the riots to clean up their neighbourhoods show there are some people who care, and are probably deeply saddened by what is happening.