Saturday, July 30, 2016

Another comment on Black Lives Matter

By Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota, USA (Protesters gather for Black Lives Matter march) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Fibonacci Blue (Wikimedia Commons)
Six months ago, Chris Lollie settled a lawsuit against the City of St. Paul Minnesota and the police department of that city. In response to a complaint by a private security guard that Mr. Lollie had sat in the wrong chair in an area open to the public, the police shocked him using an electric discharge device and arrested him.The courts first dismissed all the charges the police laid against Mr. Lollie, and subsequently cleared the way for his suit to go forward. At that point, to avoid the possibility of a larger damage award the city settled, although to the credit of the councilors who made the decision, they also considered the police had done wrong. As a member of council said: "I want to see our city make national news for many things. And this is not one of them."

Mr. Lollie took a cell phone video of his arrest, and the release of the video, as well as the subsequent discussion, took place just as the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO came to international attention. Seeing the way the police treated Mr. Lollie, and discussing his arrest, led me to see the phrase Black Lives Matter as not simply the self-evident truth that the police should not shoot people with black skin, but that Black people have a right to live a full and whole life, lived in dignity, freedom, with a sense of possibility. I do not see Black Lives matter simply as a not shooting, but as upholding the dignity of the person.

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