White protestors privileged in the eyes of the law

White+protestors+privileged+in+the+eyes+of+the+law

Sofia Gallegos

Police officers treat white Americans assembling as a peaceful protest. Black Americans doing the same, however, is seen as a riot.

Whether on the steps of the California state capitol or within the walls of the Michigan state-building, the double standard is painfully evident.

Unfortunately during this pandemic, we continue to see more and more cases of excessive force coming to light, proving the racially-motivated inconsistency in the enforcement of laws.

In the U.S., the Coronavirus pandemic has, as of now, killed more than 78,000 people, more people than any other nation.

Despite this, white protesters and “resisters” are allowed to ignore public health concerns right in front of the police.

When the governor says the beaches are closed, clearly white protesters can simply say “no,” as they played and surfed to their heart’s content, completely tear gas and battery-free.

On May 1, hundreds of Californians gathered at Huntington Beach to protest the governor’s stay at home order and demand that the economy open up again.

Many were without masks, protesters stood close to each, others breaking social distancing rules, all while defying the beach closures and carrying surfboards and bicycles to show their disagreement with the governor’s orders.

A fight broke out at one of the protests, yet still no arrests or citations were issued by the police.

In the past two weeks, videos have surfaced on social media showing police officers use excessive force towards Black Americans that have been violating social guidelines.

From New York to Los Angeles, these images are hardly surprising.

Police didn’t use force when confronted by white protesters clearly breaking social distancing rules.

In New York, police officers have used aggressive force towards Black Americans. An encounter from May 2, caught on video, has been circulating social media.

The video shows a plainclothes police officer using excessive force and a stun gun towards a group of Black Americans for not following social distancing guidelines.

The police officer was not wearing a mask after Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered everyone in the state to wear masks when out in public.

The officers also arrested a woman who was trying to figure out why one of the men was being arrested.

In the video, you can clearly hear the officer tell bystanders to “clear the fucking street off,” and verbally assault people who were only trying to help the three men being arrested and who were recording to show the unnecessary amount of force used in the altercation.

When the New York Police Department enforced strict social distancing guidelines, they arrested 40 violators, 35 of which were black.

Unequal policing in Los Angeles was shown when police responded to a party in a predominately-black neighborhood.

It was a one-year-old’s birthday party and police showed up in riot gear to a scene of mostly black women.

Police officers in the United States, for some inexplicable reason, seem to maintain composure and restraint when faced with white protesters who are violating the stay-at-home order, refusing to wear masks (unless to hide their identities or add to their guerrilla LARPing cosplay) and screaming in their faces.

At the state capitol in Michigan on April 30, a group of white-armed men entered and shouted at lawmakers.

Several Confederate flags, a swastika and a misogynistic sign aimed at Governor Gretchen Whitmer could be seen outside.

They demanded to be allowed on the floor in a clear display of intimidation and especially white privilege.

“We Demand a Haircut!” one protester’s sign said.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery,” said another.

Similar demonstrations demanding that states reopen their economies across the country have included people wielding semi-automatic rifles and ammunition.

If Black Americans protested, armed with guns, the situation would surely escalate and get crazy real fast.

Speaking of white privilege, how is it that two Georgian murderers were able to walk free after stalking an unarmed black jogger and gunning him down in the street?

On Feb 23, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was lynched in broad daylight after Gregory and his son Travis McMichael grabbed two guns, hopped in their truck and pursued Arbery, who was simply exercising, before starting the altercation that ended his life.

Following the shooting, a Georgia prosecutor said there was “insufficient probable cause” to arrest the white gunmen.

These murderers were not arrested until after the cell phone video caught by a third pursuer was leaked by Brunswick County attorney, Alan Tucker.

It was quickly spread online sparking cries of injustice and reactions from federal and state officials disturbed by what they saw in the video. According to the Washington Post, “county police and three separate district attorneys saw [the video] shortly after the shooting and didn’t seek arrest warrants.”

Knowing that black citizens are tear-gassed, shot and killed for no reason (or reasons that a white doppelganger wouldn’t be threatened by) is infuriating.

Meanwhile, these pro-gun, pro-Trump and anti-vaccination protesters get to endanger authorities and intimidate elected officials without the slightest bit of outcry.

As videos of these protests and the Georgia shooting circulate on social media, this inequality is, once again, painfully clear.

This reality is just daily life for Black Americans in the U.S. who have faced scrutiny and persecution by law enforcement for literal centuries.

The same law enforcement that protects their own, just like the case of Amaud Arbery, where one of his killers, Gregory McMichael, was a retired officer and detective who worked in the same office as the district attorney assigned to the case.

We can surmise that the authorities sat on the case for months before finally acting and making the arrests.

The authorities initially claimed that the McMichaels were making a citizen’s arrest based on a suspicion and then stood their ground in self-defense after they engaged Arbery.

An innocent, unarmed black civilian was lynched by vigilantes and their actions were deemed lawful.

In the protests that followed there was a common sentiment: “They didn’t arrest them because they saw the video; they were arrested because we saw the video.”

Protesters and advocates felt that if the video had not leaked and caused outrage, the McMichaels would still be free.

Police shouldn’t be used to enforce social distancing when they use no deescalation tactics and resort to violence when up against people of color because of their biased view of black people being a threat.

Systemic racism and colorism in policing has been a part of the United States since the inception of law enforcement officers.

We need to recognize that we face more than one epidemic in this country and that even if COVID disappeared tomorrow, we would still be losing innocent people daily to a plague rooted deep within American life.