Opinion » Shredder

Take a knee

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First, law enforcement shot demonstrators with pepper spray balls and tear gas. Second, downtown merchants started boarding up their windows.

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Umm, hey guys? You up there in the SLO Town establishment (I'm talking to you SLO Police Chief Deanna "El Pollo Loco" Cantrell and you SLO Mayor Heidi "No More Tear Gas" Harmon)—maybe I will eat my words, because it's only Wednesday—but don't you think you're being a little overdramatic?

It's a protest. Just because a handful of angsty teeny-bopper boys got out of hand on June 1 doesn't mean that peaceful protesters are going to burn your building down. It totally misses the point. Plywood on all of the downtown buildings is a little extreme.

Third, everyone forgot how this all started.

Let me fill you in: On May 25, 46-year-old Minneapolis resident George Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his back and neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd is the most recent black man to die in the hands of law enforcement officers who just don't seem to understand what the words "I can't breathe" mean and who can't seem figure out how much force is too much force. The videos that surface in the wake of their deaths detail their last moments, and it happens over and over again.

But nothing seems to change because the system-wide revolution of an institution as old and entrenched as law enforcement agencies takes work and time—and no one in a position of power seems willing to put that effort in.

Enough is enough.

People are done with racist policies.

They don't want to watch any more black people die needlessly.

And the only way to show entrenched government institutions and their bosses—I'm talking to all of you elected officials out there—that change is necessary is to take that message to the streets. Do you hear them? I do.

Get rid of the cultural bones that built law enforcement agencies in this country. Throw them out and start over! It's time to do things differently.

But I guess the SLO Police Department didn't get that message, shooting pepper balls and tear gas canisters at people in SAN LUIS OBISPO! The city where people get the most worked up about tall buildings blocking their view of the surrounding hills. Wow.

Hours earlier, officers kneeled with protesters in solidarity with the movement against police brutality and racism. So what happened? Cantrell, what kind of department are you running here? A hypocritical one for sure.

Man, what is it about law enforcement officers in riot gear that really puts people on edge? Oh, I think it's the riot gear. Oh, and their ability to shoot projectiles at people once they determine something to be "unlawful."

Hello!? This sort of behavior is what got this whole damn country into the mess that it's in: a lack of restraint in tense situations. In case you didn't get the memo: This sort of behavior is why people are protesting!

Speaking of a lack of restraint: way to not surprise anybody, Paso Robles residents! You really lived up to the stereotypes of North County folks.

"I think what they're doing is bullshit," one business owner said. "If one window gets broken ... we're not putting up with it. Ain't going to fly here."

Yeah, she probably already had her gun at the ready. She doesn't want to see your protest no more, no how. This is 'Merica. Land of the me! And she knows you're from outta town, 'cause ain't no way these here Paso folks think that way.

"Get the fuck out of my town!" one very cool-headed man screamed from his front lawn as protesters who were from his town walked down his street on June 2. Shake that fist, you old white man! Live up to that stereotype of being a curmudgeon.

Look, I know what you're going to say. Don't paint all old white conservative men with the same brush. You can't take the behavior of one old white guy and expand it to them all. Umm, yeah, actually, you can. People do it all the time. It's the definition of a stereotype.

For one, old white conservatives like to tell people to get off their lawn! For two, they're also hypocrites who think that, apparently, it's their civil right to not see you practicing your civil right! So when your civil rights encroach on their civil rights: "Get the fuck out of my town!"

God, don't you wish you could cherry pick your neighbors? Too bad, this is America. If you don't like it, why don't you just move? Oh wait, is that only reserved for people who can't afford to live here anymore? My bad. I'm not an old conservative white guy so I'm not 100 percent sure what the rules are.

While SLO Police Chief Cantrell doesn't know how to deal with a crowd of teenagers and young adults, Paso Police Chief Ty Lewis seems to have his head on straight. After a tense standoff with protesters, he kneeled with them to say a prayer. He didn't break out the tear gas.

That's how all protests should end. With the powerful taking a knee with those protesting their power. Because this is America. Δ

The Shredder is a stereotype. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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