America is burning and Trump is striking the match…

This morning at barely 6am the coffee was brewing as I stole a cup before the coffee pot finished. Sitting on the couch while checking emails I turned on the news to catch up on the happenings of the day both locally and worldwide. The local weather meteorologist talked about the potential of severe storms over the course of the day as a cold front approaches. As I changed the station to CNN, I realized there was a much larger storm brewing. 

CNN correspondent and professional journalist Omar Jimenez was reporting live in real time from Minneapolis early this morning. Reporting on the protests and demonstrations resulting from George Floyd’s untimely death and murder, while handcuffed, by officer Derek Chauvin as three police officers looked on. A life extinguished while his pleas were ignored.  A counterfeit $20 is grounds for murder? That was his crime. How do we know what that counterfeit twenty-dollar bill represented? Food possibly? Unemployment in numbers we have never seen. I don’t know but I do know the punishment did not fit the crime. Not by a long shot. Three other officers watched Chauvin murder Mr. Floyd. They could have stopped it. They could have stepped in. They should have… 

Jimenez commented that there were no first responders present when he and his crew first arrived as early as 3am this morning. It wasn’t until after 5am that law enforcement was on the scene. Jimenez was reporting on the burning landscape after a night of demonstrations as he commented on the fire at the police station leading to an evacuation.

As I listened to Jimenez report the news I respectfully and immediately noticed his bravery as he was so close to the action. I am always in awe of journalists that work so tirelessly to bring the stories into our homes. Little did anyone know that soon Jimenez would become the story. Jimenez, CNN Producer Bill Kirkos, and CNN Cameraman Leonel Mendez were suddenly surrounded by the State Patrol. In the background the third precinct was ablaze. 

Jimenez respectfully and professionally presented his credentials as the State Patrol began to engage with him. “We can move back to where you like. Put us wherever you want.  We will go. We were just getting out of your way We will go wherever you want us to stand” Jimenez’s words as he reasonably, cooperatively and calmly explained to the State Patrol. 

Why am I under arrest? We hear Jimenez ask. All Jimenez was doing was his job as a professional journalist. He was presenting the story in an honest and balanced way. Josh Campbell a colleague of Jimenez and a CNN correspondent was reporting just a block away. Just moment’s before Jimenez’s arrest Campbell had identified himself to the State Patrol with no issue. No consequence. He was treated very differently. Campbell is white. Jimenez is not.

Jimenez was arrested on television for no apparent reason…no reason at all actually.  Jimenez asked the officer why he was being arrested and the officer responded that he was “following orders.” Will we ever know who issued the orders? What they were?  We have a right to know what happened and more importantly Jimenez and the CNN crew have the right to know. Reportedly the Governor issued an apology. Did anyone apologize to Jimenez? The crew?

Jimenez never imagined that he would become the story. He was grateful that it happened on tv and was filmed. Exposing injustices that are certainly not new are now being filmed. Not a word needs to be said. In real time. No filter. After his release Jimenez spoke with his grandmother on the phone. She had once been a civil rights activist herself and arrested a number of times. She welcomed her grandson into “the club.”

It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.

Ralph Ellison

Much earlier in the day and at the White House Trump was busy tweeting and racially calling the many protestors “thugs.” Trump continued to tweet “once the looting starts the shooting starts.” A 1960’s reference to another racially violent time. The tweets were flagged by Twitter as “glorifying violence.” A small step as his account should simply be shut down. Americans are dying, suffering, frightened and the President of the United States is picking battles with social media. This is what Trump’s America looks like…

The burning precinct building is representative of our country right now. There seem to be two systems of justice. Two different Americas. A systemic problem. We need leadership that rescues us all from the burning building and not someone that strikes the match…

My heart is heavy. The moment is now. The conversation about racism in our country needs to start in a sincere, genuine and effective way. This conversation is long overdue…it is time to listen and to act. Humanity must be at the forefront…

“There are things you stand up for because it’s right.”  American Poet Nikki Giovanni

                                       “I can’t breathe” George Floyd

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

2 thoughts

  1. Liz,
    Thank you for sounding a voice of reason in a flood of hate and anger. There is no doubt there are two Americas and it is clear who is attempting to benefit from the circumstances, even if it tears us further apart.

    Vote. Our country’s wellbeing is at stake.

    Dave Pyman

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