Editorial: Protests and support

“No Justice No Peace”, “Stand up Ridgefield” and “Black lives matter” say signs at the protest in front of town hall last Sunday.

“No Justice No Peace”, “Stand up Ridgefield” and “Black lives matter” say signs at the protest in front of town hall last Sunday.

Contributed photo

Chanting, marching, carrying signs that say “black lives matter” — it was good to see Ridgefielders out in support of protesters across the country that have taken to the streets to express outrage at the death of a black man in police custody in Minnesota. It was good that the town’s first selectman and police chief were there last weekend, taking part in the protest.

Ridgefield’s police chief and first selectman issued a thoughtful statement:

“We have all seen the disturbing footage from Minneapolis in which George Floyd tragically lost his life. The action of one officer and the inaction of others have left us all feeling appalled. We condemn the actions and inactions of the Minneapolis police officers shown in these images.

“We fully understand the repercussions of this incident, how public trust and confidence in law enforcement has diminished as communities deserve the best from those who have taken the oath to serve and protect them. We strive to serve the community with the utmost honor and are committed to treating everyone with respect, fairness and dignity. The relationship that we have built with our community members is one that we do not take for granted.

“We share in your feelings and uphold the highest levels of professionalism and training to serve you. We are always here for your questions and concerns.”

The deaths of black people — George Floyd is hardly the first one, or the only one — are tragic testimony to the nation’s long history of racial injustice, and the continuing legacy of economic inequality.

The protesters deserve support — from Ridgefielders and Americans of all descriptions, black, white and every other skin tone. And from Americans of all economics levels — rich, middle class and poor.

Protests in some of the nation’s cities have been seen to devolve from peaceful demonstrations during the day to more violent actions — including looting — at night.

This can’t be justified, or dismissed.

President Trump’s tough-talking — harsh, inflammatory, unhelpful — may be regarded as an embarrassment by many Ridgefielders. But it’s a safe bet that most Ridgefielders — like most Americans, of all races and economic levels — oppose violence and want to live in safety and security.

Yes, it’s good to see Ridgefielders carrying signs and marching and showing support of ‘black lives matter’ protests around the nation.

But let’s acknowledge that we are supporting the black lives protests — and sadly shaking our heads at the looting we see on television — from safety and security of our affluent suburb.

Ridgefield is about 90 percent white — casual research comes up with numbers between 87 to 92 percent, depending on how white hispanic people are considered. The town’s median income is north of $125,000 a year.

That’s not a crime. Ridgefield is a beautiful, peaceful place to live and raise a family. Who wouldn’t want to live and raise their family in beauty and peace?

And of course, all Americans — all the world’s people, in truth — should have the opportunity.

But they don’t.

And there are protests.

A sign carried by one of the demonstrators in front of town hall said well what many white Ridgefielders feel:

“I’m not black, but I see you! I’m not black, but hear you! I’m not black, but I see the injustice that you face daily! I’m not black, but I see your fear for your sons and even your daughters! I’m not black, but I will stand with you!”