Wednesday, June 10

Karen Protests For Justice in San Marco, So Now We're Good

Karen protesting
[I began writing this article BEFORE Mayor Lenny Curry participated in a march led by Leonard Fournette and decided to simultaneously begin dismantling Confederate monuments in Jax. More on that at the end.] 

I am in favor of being able to protest for something in which you believe. I don't tend to do it myself, but that doesn't mean I think it's wrong, unless someone tosses a Molotov Cocktail onto my car. Luckily, that's never happened to me. Anyhow, I saw that there was a squeaky clean protest in San Marco. Karen was there. Dougie E Doug Marrone was there. Probably OK Boomer and a several others. So it was mainstream and nice. Maybe like going to a farmers market. That's why I ask myself the following questions. Does this mean something is really going to change? Does it mean those with relative power expressed some empathy and now it's all good? Does it mean people are just really bored right now?

The first option is that since mainstream America has decided that police brutality went too far one time, it will change the conversation going forward. If that happens, it's huge. I grew up hearing about the Ernest Lacy case in Milwaukee. It was fairly similar to the George Floyd situation, and it happened back in 1981. Lots of other similar cases in lots of similar cities have occurred since (and before) 1981, so if this is the one that finally gets everyone's attention, so be it. We are going to hear a lot about the criminal record of the victim/suspect. We'll hear about the difficulty of the job for police officers. We'll hear that it's an isolated case. Then, we'll add in the lawlessness and destruction caused by protests. In the past, this all led to undetermined verdicts in admittedly complicated cases. Maybe the San Marcos of the world getting involved will create some kind of systemic change. I prefer non-lethal and testosterone-free ways of chasing and detaining, but that's not really the norm, so we'll see how the conversation evolves. 

The next possibility is that all the Karens of the country will feel good and woke now that they ventured out for one protest that had been validated by all the right people. This wasn't just a single (mostly) black man kneeling during an NFL game. This was the entire celebrity A-List, unable to be on location overseas or self-promoting. When I asked, Karen had this to say: "I am just so excited that I could participate and be sure that my voice was heard. My friends call me Kare Bear because I care about others so much. Even immigrants. Except that guy, probably Paco or something, who works at that Mexican restaurant by the Town Center and never gets my order right, so I end up having to send it back and threaten to have Paco sent back if he doesn't bring me the bean burrito with no onions as I clearly specified. But it feels really good to help people of color who need me to empower them. Wait, Floyd had meth in his system? Oh well, at least I tried to help them. All my black friends will still say, 'You go, girlfriend!' when they find out I protested for them." Basically, Karen did her part, and if something comes of it, that's great. 

Finally, it might just be that people are really bored. No sports to watch. No elicit affairs to engage in. No friends. This is a chance for Karen and the kids to get out of the house. In a protected environment, in order to say something obvious that can feel cutting-edge because the family has never protested together before. I talked to several members of the Jacksonville BLACK community who seemed to believe this scenario as much as any other. That's kind of funny, right? 

The big question when it comes to protests is whether or not something tangible results from the effort. In Jacksonville, it seems that the answer is that yes, it does work. Sure, people nationwide are asking for social equality and justice, and Jacksonville seems to be offering something else in return, but it's a good start, considering this is Jacksonville. Some people might think Confederate monuments would have been dismantled back in the 60s, but those people would be Northerners (like me). I assume Lenny Curry had already decided he'd throw the monuments under the bus for an opportunity to get reelected, and he was kind of waiting for the right moment. You may notice there's no discussion of real police reform or the renaming of streets and schools. Confederate monuments have probably been considered race currency in the South for many years, and it's time to cash in in Jacksonville. Honestly, I would rather avoid riots and violence, so I kind of get it.

Whether Americans are filled with real convictions or boredom, I guess what I hope is that the results are appropriate. Not all police officers or police departments are corrupt. Even some politicians probably aren't. And certainly, not all protesters are speaking from a position of personal knowledge. But a movement is a powerful entity, especially when we're in need of something to unify us as a country. A movement based on our Declaration of Independence and reiterated by our Civil War and Civil Rights Movement is probably a no-brainer when it comes to people agreeing. Maybe even lawmakers will agree on how to move forward with police department reform or whatever other race currency it chooses to use. Or avoid. After all, we've marched and moved on, right?

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