REGARDING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PROTESTING

People protesting for change is not new. Protests have been taking place since colonial times.  The Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773 are early examples. Our first major protest as a new country came during George Washington’s administration when farmers from Pennsylvania staged ‘The Whiskey Rebellion’ to protest an excise tax on domestic distilled products such as whiskey. Whiskey once again became the focus of protests during prohibition years. Protests against wars such as Vietnam and Iraq have also been organized along with protests for gun safety reform.  Who can forget the students of Parkland, Florida who organized the March For Our Lives protests to plead for stricter gun safety laws after so many of their classmates had been gunned down? People have marched for climate control and other environmental issues for years.

There are few issues which have not been protested at some point in time. However, by far, the most common protests in our country have been about human rights.  One hundred years ago, in 1920, the 19th amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. This was not done out of the generosity of the hearts of the men, but rather because of the women who put down their dust rags and mops and picked up their signs and became suffragettes, making their voices heard. They accomplished one goal, the right to vote, but modern women today are still fighting for equal rights. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed in 1972 and has yet to be ratified by the states. Women are still marching for their rights as shown by the women’s marches on Washington in Jan. of 2017 and Jan. of 2018.

The LGBTQ community is still fighting for the same humane and legal human rights that they continue to be denied. It is through protests such as the huge March on Washington in April of 1993, through the court system, and through showing solidarity through symbols such as the rainbow flag that they continue to fight for their basic human rights.

The Black Lives Matter protests of the last few weeks is for the human rights of black Americans Here we are, 20 years into the 21st century, still dealing with an issue which started in the 17th century,. Slave ships arrived on our shores, deposited shackled men and women, then forced them into labor with no rights of their own. The Civil War was fought in the 19th century in part to end the slavery and resulted in the 14th Amendment giving blacks the right of citizenship. The 15th Amendment made it illegal to deny black citizens the right to vote. After the war, segregation was rampant, especially in the South.  Court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. This only made matters worse.

Then, in 1963, came one of the most memorial protests of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.  That peaceful protest became the catalyst for the 1965 Civil Rights Act which brought dignity, humanity, resources, and more equality to the black community. This helped, but was not enough. There have been many, many protests and marches over the last 70 years. Gains have been made in the areas of respect, economic conditions, and acceptance. It has taken almost 400 years, but black Americans have grown from being tobacco and cotton-picking slaves to becoming President of the United States.

The bottom line is that protests have been a part of the American fabric since the very beginning.  But protests alone do nothing without follow through. Suffragettes such as Susan B. Anthony and others wrote letters, gave speeches, and didn’t stop until they got the right to vote. Dr. King and others kept the issue of civil rights out front and in the news until the Civil Rights Act got passed. We need to continue to keep that energy high. Keep the cause in front of the public. Don’t let it become yesterday’s news. Get involved politically. Back candidates who support your position on issues. Work to get these candidates elected whether it means making phone calls, knocking on doors, or making donations. Run for office yourself.

Democrats totally and unequivocally believes that peaceful protests are a necessary tool to change bad public policy. We have been and will continue to work to support candidates who support equality and human rights for all citizens. We will do our best to open people’s hearts and souls to be accepting of people of all races, creed, and color.  We will strive to find the good in everyone and to ensure that everyone has a voice and a choice. No one should be denied their rights due to the color of their skin, their sexual preference, or their beliefs.

BLACK LIVES MATTERS PROTESTS

In the past couple weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a primary focus across America. This movement stems in response to the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American male located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Police officer Derek Chauvin arrested Floyd and pinned him to the ground, his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes, until Floyd died. Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder the following day, ruling Floyd’s death nothing more than voluntary manslaughter.

This isn’t the first instance of police brutality against unarmed individuals of the black community. This past March in Louisville, Kentucky, police officers used a battering ram to crash into the apartment of 26-year-old African American woman Breonna Taylor, finding Taylor sleeping in her bed. After a brief confrontation, officers fired into Taylor — at least eight times. Police officers were able to enter Taylor’s apartment under a no-knock warrant, which allowed them to enter without warning or identification.

Police brutality has happened here in our city, too. In 2015, Cincinnati resident Sam Dubose was fatally shot by a Cincinnati police officer at a traffic stop because he was missing his front license plate and had a suspended driver’s license. If he were white, would shots have been fired?

George Floyd’s murder was the catalyst for the protests in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement, but he is not the only reason. We have listed just two examples of police brutality against unarmed members of the black community that happened in 2020, and one that happened in our streets within the past five years. What about the other faces and names our attention has neglected? Floyd might be the catalyst, but he is just one of the many individuals our society has failed.

We are here to address the protests that have broken out not only in Cincinnati and the United States, but across the world. People have been brought together by the thousands in Berlin, London, Hong Kong, and in our very own streets, to advocate the fact that while, yes, all lives matter — black lives are the ones who need us most right now.

The protests advocate against police brutality, with people taking to the streets demanding for the police to be defunded and demilitarized. People scream, “No justice, no peace.” People cry, “Say his name,” in order to commemorate just a few people who have fallen.

Democrats fully supports the peaceful protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests have shown solidarity between people of all ages and all colors, coming together to demand that our government recognize the importance of black lives and how greatly they are at risk. Since the protests have begun, Chauvin’s charges have been moved up from third-degree to second-degree murder. The Louisville, Kentucky Council unanimously voted to pass “Breonna’s Law,” banning no-knock search warrants in response to the protests on Taylor’s murder. We have already seen progress in three short weeks of protests, but that progress does not vindicate what the black community has seen, experienced, or grown up to fear, for the last 100-plus years.

We would like to take this time to draw a distinction between the peaceful protests and the rioting and looting. The peaceful protests are organized, where people march the streets of Cincinnati, using their voices and hand-made signs to demand change. Many of these protests have ended at the Hamilton County Courthouse, where Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac and Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil have taken a knee in solidarity with protestors. Other protests have ended at the Justice Center, where protestors knelt for eight minutes, slightly less than the amount of time Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck.

The rioting and looting are separate entities from the protests. The protests draw thousands; the rioting and looting are done by small groups in the middle of the night, of their own volition and  on their own time. Democrats do not approve of the destruction or stealing of property and sees no connection between these things and the peaceful protests for the Black Lives Matter movement.

It has been said by many, and we’ll say it again: we cannot go back to “normal,” as the previous normal is rooted in systemic racism and the devaluing of human, especially black human, lives. Our new “normal” will value black lives, of any age and of any instance. Our new “normal” will scream in every possible way that Black Lives Matter, and we will do everything we can to make that happen.