Today’s excellent New York Times article, In Baton Rouge, A City Divided Faces Two Different Tragedies, describes the history of racial injustice and current tensions in that city. Although the situation is more desperate in many ways in Baton Rouge, it does seem a microcosm of the state of racial tensions and community/police relationships in the United States today.
The shocking video of the killing of Alton Sterling sparked national outrage and a Department of Justice investigation. This was followed by excessive, militarized police responses. Police in riot gear advanced onto private property where people were exercising the Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and assembly, restraining and arresting peaceful demonstrators. Military (police) Law, Free Speech Suspended.
Then the terrible attack that resulted in the death of three Baton Rouge police officers totally transformed the national conversation. All the news focused on that, and the Alton Sterling story basically disappeared.
In the midst of all of this, attempts are being made to blame the one group that is attempting to peacefully address these issues, Black Lives Matter. Those of us who believe in restorative justice and peaceful conflict resolution need to find ways to offer our support for Black Lives Matter and ways to address these issues in a responsible manner.