Of Curfews and Clean Up

So if you read any of the local news about the rioting in Grand Rapids Saturday and/or you watched the news yesterday, it raised a couple of questions in my mind…

Was there more than one reason that people came downtown Grand Rapids Sunday morning to help clean up?
• Obviously, there were. There were 100 businesses that were damaged, so if every business had 4 people there cleaning up, thats 400 people.
• Plus, if you believe what you see on the news, there were a lot of people who showed up out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe that to be true as well. I believe that there were people who came to downtown Grand Rapids to help clean up because they are good people and want to do what they feel is best for our city.
• Also, I think there are a lot of people who realize that the businesses downtown have taken a big hit with the pandemic and want to do something to make it a little easier for them to rebuild. One bump in the road is one thing. A bump in the road as well as big ditch is another thing and a whole lot harder.
• There might very well have been (as I’ve heard/read on more than one place) that part of the clean up crew might have been there because they didn’t want to have people see the “protest side” of Grand Rapids when they went back to work today.

One other thing about the protests and today. The Mayor made a declaration of emergency (probably the wrong term but you get what I mean) and as part of that, put a curfew in place from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM unless you are going to or from work. “Oh that sounds like a good idea – make sure that things are calm tonight and tomorrow night.”

We found out tonight that one of our kids youth group leaders was arrested for violating the curfew tonight. She and her husband and I believe 4 others went and sat calmly in the middle of the Rosa Parks Circle shortly before 7:00 P.M. and waited for the police. Apparently it took 9 minutes until the cops came and arrested them.

Was a peaceful protest the right approach to the curfew? Or should it just have been, “oh, okay, time to stay home tonight?”

A peaceful protest to the curfew essentially says, “okay, we are’t causing problems – we are just making it known that we dont agree with the curfew.” Why did they disagree with the curfew? I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure its not something that they are doing because they had a family party to go to.

I’m also pretty confident that they didnt protest the curfew because they just want to complain about government policies.

I think that they protested the curfew in a calm peaceful manner because they felt quite strongly, strongly enough to be willing to get arrested and sent to jail that the curfew was sending the wrong impression.

What was the curfew saying? “We can all breath a sign of relief. The protest is done, the city is calm and all is well.”

Uh, yeah, not really. Omar and Ariana and the other 4 are protesting the curfew because they believe that the curfew sends a message which says, “whew, thats over now we can all go back to normal.” And they want to say…..

Not so fast. What has really changed since Friday? Nothing. There has been been no change in the systemic and institutional racial bias that plaugues this country.

A curfew gives an impression of calm answers. We don’t have that, so protesting is kind of a reminder – hey look, we still have the problems.we need to deal with.

Clean up and curfew. Progress in some ways. Questions and disturbance in others.

And tomorrow the sun will come up.

The struggle will still be there.


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