Friday, July 3, 2020

This Independence Day, Let's Reflect on What Freedom Actually Means ...

This Peter Marshall is not the game-show host - this Peter Marshall was a popular Presbyterian chaplain of the Senate, well-respected by both parties.

(Other than that, I can't attest to his actual personal politics, but regardless, it's a great quote, isn't it?)

I like to refer to the Fourth of July as "Independence Day" - since truly being a patriot means the right to voice criticism and dissent - and in fact, it was  the principle foundation this country was built upon.

However, during this time of COVID, I've heard many a person demand the right not to wear masks, the right to return to work, the right disrespect social distancing, the right to even sue the governor - putting their own personal freedoms ahead of everyone else's health and safety. 

But like the above quote by famous American Presbyterian minister and Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall, says, if we could think about freedom more in the sense of an opportunity to do the right thing, for the sake of many -  rather than do as we please on behalf of just ourselves - this country would be a much better place, wouldn't it? 

Along those lines, I'd like to offer my support for another young black man, literally doing nothing wrong, profiled and killed by police officers - Elijah McClain.

His death happened last summer, but with current events, it has resurfaced in the wake of George Floyd and the BLM movement.

Elijah was 23 years old, 5'7" and 140 pounds. and an asthmatic.

No drugs, no drinking - he was  homebody who loved music and animals, and often played the violin for the neighborhood stray cats, as she said it soothed them.

He was a community and self-described as an introvert (as the below video shows), likely on the autism spectrum.

(ASD or autism spectrum disorder would explain why he freaked out and vomited when they grabbed him - people with ASD cannot handle the sensory stimulus of being touched without warning/permission.)

On July 24, 2019, while walking home from the convenience store, someone called the police on him, saying he "looked sketchy."

When police arrived -  though there was no crime or charge - police handcuffed him,  did the carotid choke hold on him (the same used on George Floyd) -  during which Elijah, who is an asthmatic - also cried out "I can't breathe," then vomited again (for which he apologizes) - then went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, dying 3 days later.

This is the body cam footage, but unfortunately, the camera falls to the ground.  

At one point - as the camera falls and they are still in view - you hear an officer yell that Elijah grabbed for their gun -  but the video we can still see as he says this does does not corroborate this.

In fact, it is very clear that they are aware the video on the ground is still recording, as they keep shouting out "we had to use the carotid hold on him," hoping to legally protect themselves.

Note also the officer's presumption called out so the camera can here:  "I don't know what he's on,  but we're going to give him a shot of ketamine."

Again, the coroner found nothing in his system BUT the ketamine - Elijah was on nothing at all - and he committed NO crime. 

Regardless, the young man was doing nothing but walking home from the convenience store in a ski mask.

Although it may have been eccentric to wear a ski mask at this time of year, before COVID, this behavior does fit with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) behavior. 

Now, we lay a lot of appropriate blame on cops on racial profiling and using excessive force, which IS where most of the blame belongs.

However, what is also true, is this - WE share the blame, fellow white people.

Fellow white people? 

Please stop calling the police on black people, presuming crime.

If nothing else, ask yourself before you call, "Would I be calling the police on this person/persons if they were white?"

Because as we've seen, the result of that call you make could result in that person's death from police brutality, denied their constitutional right to due process of law (as IF our justice system is racially fair anyway). 

This young man may have been a bit eccentric, yes, but he was NOT "on drugs" as police claimed, he was not harassing or assaulting anyone, and he had committed no crime - he most likely simply was on the autism spectrum, freaked out after being touched/grabbed, while simply walking home from the store.

Regardless, he most assuredly did not deserve to die.

Otherwise, I wish for all Americans a happy, safe Independence Day - and like the Peter Marshall quote says - let think of Independence Day not to demand our personal freedoms, but as an opportunity to do what is right. 

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