This article appeared in the June 02, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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On George Floyd, injustice, and being my brother’s keeper

Elaine Thompson;/AP
Kazaria Snipes, 7 (right), and her brother Kevon Avery hold boxes of donuts they were giving away to volunteers cleaning up downtown Seattle Sunday, May 31, 2020, following protests the night before over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. On Sunday morning, hundreds of people of all ages turned out in downtown Seattle to help clean up the damage, sweeping up broken glass and cleaning off graffiti.

Excessive force by police and destructive protests have deeply shaken America. But two bystander videos posted Sunday may hint at how to deal with both problems. 

In the first video, two police officers in Seattle are handcuffing a male protestor on the ground. One cop’s knee is on his neck – the same technique used on George Floyd. Then, the second cop intervenes, forcibly removing his partner’s knee.

That’s what’s supposed to happen, Clarence Castile told NPR, discussing the death of Mr. Floyd: “When one cop sees another cop using excessive force. ... that cop’s supposed to say ...“Yo man, get up off him.”

Mr. Castile became a reserve police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota, after his nephew, Philando Castile, a black man, was fatally shot by a cop in 2016.

A second video on Twitter shows a black female protester confronting two white women spray painting “BLM” on a Starbucks in Los Angeles. She reprimands the vandals as they walk away: “They’re gonna blame black people for this and black people didn’t do it. ... You all are part of the problem.”

Racial injustice is a chronic problem. But Mr. Castile insists progress can be made now if we act as our brother’s keeper. Cop to cop. Protester to protester. “Me accountable to my neighbors, my neighbors accountable to me and everybody helping everybody out,” he says. “We all have a small part to play in the big picture.”

This article appeared in the June 02, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/02 edition
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