Sunday, June 7, 2020

Our America, Our Pain, My Voice

On Monday, June 1st, I received a text from a client alerting me to a protest at the Greenwich police station. Fearing the possibility of violence and looting, several high-end stores boarded up and police were out in full force. After notifying my guards, stationed at various locations throughout Greenwich, I changed into a t-shirt that read, “JUST BE NICE,” wrote ONE LOVE on a face mask and headed to the protest to observe and report what was unfolding to my clients and staff.

The crowd was small but enraged. I watched and listened to numerous, personal stories of racial injustice. I listened to police officers respond over and over again, “for those of you from out of town…,” as if their voice did not represent our town. But their stories were from our town. Their stories were powerful, and they deserved to be heard.

I could not stand in silence knowing I also had a story to tell. So I shouted it, at the top of my lungs. I leaned over a wall, pointed my finger at the four police officers, including the chief of police standing outside the police building, and I yelled. It wasn’t eloquent. It was rough, but it was real.
During a lesson focused on the use of force at a Citizens Police Academy class I took in November of 2019, the officers giving the class brought up Eric Garner’s death and the use of a choke hold – stating that the choke hold was justified and did not cause Eric his death. I disagreed with this statement knowing what lead to his arrest, the excessive use of force used during his arrest, and that the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. During the class I voiced my opposition. I did this again at a firearms demonstration held several weeks after.
When I shouted the same opposition at the protest, Chief Heavy asked, “why didn’t you tell anyone?” This ignited a reply from several bystanders who shouted, “don’t blame her.” I also shouted, “don’t blame me.”
The video of this exchange, along with several from protesters, was posted on YouTube. A local news organization took my words from the audio and posted it in an article along with my name and several photo’s. Not all of what they posted was accurate.
Although I have not heard from any clients directly about this article, or the part I played in this peaceful protest, it has been brought to my attention that there are clients calling for the dismissal of my security guard services.
In an attempt to manage the negative fallout, I sat down to write a letter of apology to my clients.
And then I asked myself, what am I apologizing for?
Time and time again, we witness, read or hear about unjustified shootings, fatal chokings and severe beatings. Silence is NOT an option. Silence does not solve the problem of police brutality and racial injustice and apologizing is not part of any solution. What we need is action.
For those of you who are outraged by what you read, hear or witness; don’t apologize, mobilize. Stand together with the victims of murder, marginalization and repression, and with those who seek justice.
Stand, walk, kneel, speak, lead, unite and VOTE.
One LOVE, MonkeyME

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Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison