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It pains me to watch the news to see what is going on in Baltimore. I hate seeing neighborhoods in our country being destroyed by people that are acting out for reasons I don’t understand. If there is law enforcement abuse, I understand people wanting to protest to fight for change. I also understand the anger that must exist in neighborhoods where residents don’t have the trust in law enforcement that I was lucky enough to have growing up. I’ve never been a victim of profiling or patted down by the police while playing a pick-up game of basketball.

We can chat about this all day and I will not get the destruction of innocent people’s property. I’m not a big fan of CVS, but I don’t know that I would ever find myself feeling the need to burn one down. Taking items out of the store because someone next to me broke out the windows again doesn’t seem like something I would find myself doing. I could see myself breaking in the window if my family was starving and I needed to feed them, that I could see myself doing. Just to take things off the shelves because I’m protesting that someone was treated poorly by the police, I’m going to need some help to get.

This morning a friend showed me the criminal background of the young man from Baltimore that is the subject of the riots and protests. It’s not good. My first reaction was, “So what does that matter?” Then I realized how many people will think it does matter. His criminal record. Does it matter? If law enforcement knows they are dealing with a multi-convicted felon, will it change the way they handle the situation? Is law enforcement at greater risk because he has previously been convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon?

I like to make lists so here goes:

  • We don’t have much information to form an opinion one way or the other.
  • Racial tension is real and we need to continue to have open dialogues with our brothers and sisters no matter what color they are.
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for just a minute before you give your opinion.
  • Make sure you have permission from someone that doesn’t look exactly like you before you decide they need to hear your opinion.
  • All law enforcement should not be lumped into the untrustworthy category just like all people of different color or backgrounds should be lumped into a specific category.
  • When in doubt, show love and compassion.
  • Remain thankful that we live in a country where investigations and study will take place instead of a place that we don’t have the right to speak out one way or another.

The entire situation is sad and tragic. One dead individual, several injured police officers, a curfew on citizens and a baseball game that had to be played without fans. Let’s be hopeful that we will all learn something from this that will allow us to go forward and make the world better for the children that have yet to be born.

(Photo: “FreddieGrayPrecinctProtest” by Veggies – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )