What’s the deal with all of the protesters? The concept of protesting in public seems foreign to me, yet in this day and age organized demonstrations have been increasing in popularity. Sure, in the past I have protested a new experimental meal (or two) created by my lovely wife, and I certainly voiced my displeasure with some of the punishments handed down by my father while growing up. However, the thought of voicing my dissatisfaction, anger, or frustration (about anyone or anything) beyond the privacy of my own home has never even occurred to me. I simply haven’t had the inkling to take to the streets, for the rest of the world to see, on behalf of any cause.
The truth as I know it is people have the right to peacefully protest about anything in this country if they so desire. Peacefully! The problem is, more often than not, not everyone follows that simple rule, so those picketing and marching in protest usually come across to the rest of us as ignorant fools. I think they’d be much better off expending their time and energy elsewhere and in a more constructive way. Those who feel slighted or unheard could engage in a civil dialogue with the powers that be. The demonstrators should individually lobby for change at their local courthouse instead of disrupting life for everyone else.
Recently, the right to protest trumped my right to the pursuit of happiness. My mother-in-law wanted her daughter, grandson, and myself (her handsome son-in-law) to accompany her to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City once the tribute, to those who were lost during the attacks, was open to the public. She preferred not to visit “The Big Apple” on the actual anniversary of 911, so I suggested going to New York in December because talk show host, David Letterman, has said time and time again on his popular nighttime show that there’s no place like NYC at Christmastime. My family thought that was a good idea, so my wife scheduled our trip so we’d be there during the nationally televised Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.
I even prepared myself for the glorious occasion by watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on the airplane ride to New York. Kevin McCallister, the “lost” kid in the movie, adores Christmas trees almost as much as I do, so it’s not all that surprising when…SPOILER ALERT…Kevin is eventually found standing in front of New York City’s tallest lit Christmas tree which of course is located at Rockefeller Center. We intentionally were staying at a hotel only a few blocks away from the site, for convenience’ sake, but what transpired the night of the annual tree lighting ritual turned out to be anything but convenient. After venturing out towards the famous event we immediately encountered a horde of people retreating from where we were intending to go. Our carefully thought out plans, for a fun filled evening of Christmas music and festive lights, were changed in an instant.
We suddenly found ourselves trapped amongst a sea of riled protesters, police donned in riot gear, and hundreds of confused tourists (not unlike ourselves). Wooden barriers were being put into place, by the local police department, in an attempt to contain the escalating situation, and to keep protesters away from the nearby renowned tree lighting ceremony, although some of the demonstrators were leaping over them. Everywhere we went, no matter how many streets over or in what direction we trekked, we found ourselves blocked off and unable to continue our jaunt to Rockefeller Center. The new experience was chaotic, unsettling, and extremely irritating. We were able to duck into an Irish pub for dinner and drinks (I know I needed one), and adding insult to injury the establishment was showing the tree lighting event on all of their television sets.
After dinner and arriving back at the hotel I noticed the all too familiar scene from outside, I had barely survived, up on the hotel lobby’s jumbo television screen. It was only then when I became fully enlightened as to what actually was taking place on the city’s streets and the magnitude of the situation. A Black man, Eric Garner, had been killed by a White police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, back in July; however, the news that the jury assigned to the case had decided there was not enough evidence to indict had just been released; hence, the reason for the angry mob outside. I only mention the skin color of the victim and the New York City police officer involved because apparently the majority of the protesters think the unfortunate death of Mr. Garner was racially motivated. I do not. They are also profusely trying to connect the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown (and now others) with the Eric Garner case as if they are one in the same. They are not.
In fact, I think it’s a travesty to mention all three of the aforementioned Black men in a single breath. Each case is entirely different and should be treated as such. I was not a witness to any of the killings, mind you, nor was I privy to any additional information that may have been provided to the juries, but I would like to offer the following. Eric Garner’s life ended when Officer Pantaleo applied a chokehold while trying to restrain the large man. The use of a chokehold is a clear violation of NYPD policy, so obviously Mr. Pantaleo deserves to be punished in some capacity for the infraction. I really don’t know if Officer Pantaleo was purposely abusing his authority or not. I’m also not so certain that maybe the police department needs to revisit their current policy.
Michael Brown, on the other hand, has been portrayed by many in the Black community as a loveable guy with a promising future that was negligently cut short, but his actions on the last day of his young life would suggest otherwise. A video shows him manhandling a store clerk, while stealing from a convenience store, shortly before a police officer fatally shot him. The Trayvon Martin incident happened almost three years ago, but he hasn’t been allowed to rest in peace since his name is continually resurrected anytime a Black man is killed by a White cop. The problem with linking Trayvon Martin to the others is quite evident considering the high school student was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman (not a police officer). The shooter, George Zimmerman, isn’t even White. He’s Hispanic.
The only real correlation I see between them is that in all three occurrences the victims were resisting authority figures which ultimately enhanced the situation and led to their demise. Tragic? Yes! Is there some sort of conspiracy amongst cops going on against today’s Black man? No! Obeying the commands of law enforcers, whether one feels denigrated or not, is sound advice for everyone to follow. At least then the accused would have their day in court, and at the very least they would live to see another day. Therefore, the rash of demonstrations currently taking place around the country would not have even been a consideration, and law-abiding families could have attended a once in a lifetime Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.
Imagine the disappointment of not being able to partake in something so unique when you’re only a measly couple of blocks away. Instead of seeing a giant Christmas tree lit for the first time I saw a throng of enraged minorities and “New York’s finest” trying to keep the peace. Instead of listening to the soothing sounds of Tony Bennett I was forced to hear the chants of, “Black lives matter,” by the surge of protesters taking over the city. I concur with their sentiment that Black lives matter, but White lives matter too, as does every race on God’s green earth. As I previously stated, “people have the right to peacefully protest,” but the protesters in New York City will forever be known to me as The Grinch who stole my family’s Christmas.