Monday, July 27, 2020

Music Monday: For Elijah

They say music soothes the savage beast. The savage beast of American policing, which has never dealt with its long-standing systematic racism, could do well to stop and listen. Recently violin protests were held across the country recently to honor Elijah McClain, a young Black man who was known to play his violin at the local animal shelter for the stray cats and dogs. The 23-year-old died last summer after police put him in a chokehold and subsequently injected him with ketamine while he was on his way home from picking up iced tea from the store for his brother. His crime? Wearing a face mask and looking “sketchy.” He was unarmed. They said he resisted. I’d like to see the venn diagram of cops who don’t wear masks in areas where they are mandated by law, and cops who say someone would be alive if they’d just complied with the law. I’d bet it’s a damn solid circle.

The officers were cleared at the time, but the Aurora Police Department in Colorado is facing renewed scrutiny in light of the historic Black Lives Matter protests. It should be noted that that is the very same police department that entirely peacefully apprehended and arrested James Holmes, a convicted mass murderer who killed 12 people and injured 70 others in the 2012 attack on an Aurora movie theater. Despite being decked out in full tactical gear with heavy weaponry on him, Holmes was arrested without a scratch. Did I mention that he is white?

Naturally, in response to this the Aurora Police Department did a lot of soul searching and made concrete changes? Ha! Kidding! They brought out officers in full riot gear to break up a peaceful violin protest in the city and violently beat, pepper sprayed and arrested lawful protestors instead. So, you know, lessons learned.

The arch of the moral universe is long, and we’re doing everything we can to bend it toward justice. But we are all impatient, and rightfully so, for change. May we actually learn from these troubled and troubling times. May no young person who leaves the house for a mundane or even extraordinary task never come home again simply because of the color of his/her/their skin and the overzealous and racist use of force by the very people meant to protect all of us equally. All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter. Lives like Elijah McClain and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and sadly too many others to list. Be soothed by this music. Then fight like a beast for what is right. Happy Monday, kittens.

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