The streets in our neighborhood are eerily quiet tonight. They have been since around seven, when the curfew started for four large counties in our metro area.
We see on the news, and in USA Today, that just a few miles away from our home protesters are out on the street and police and National Guard Members stand in full riot gear. A drum beats incessantly and the crowd frequently chants “Daunte Wright!” While some shout obscenities at the officers.
Yesterday, a young black man was pulled over by police for expired tabs. He also had something dangling from his mirror, so they ran his license and found a warrant for his arrest. The police body cam shows that at first he was cooperating and then suddenly started resisting arrest and dove into his car. A police officer yelled, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” as they are trained to do when about to use one.
And then the police officer fired. But it was her gun, not her taser. And she shouted, “I just shot him!” as he drove away, crashed, and died.
Later that night people were breaking windows of near by businesses and looting. And this morning I saw calls out on Facebook for neighbors to gather garbage bags and brooms and help with clean up.
I read the heated debates on different social media posts tonight about what should be done, and what should not be done. And who should be blamed, and who shouldn’t.
And somewhere not too far away the family of a young man taken abruptly grieves, but still has the grace to urge protesters to be peaceful. And a toddler son wonders why his daddy doesn’t come home. And a veteran police officer agonizes over how she could make such a fatal mistake. And a police chief struggles to contain his emotions in a news conference.
Restaurants and small business owners, barely surviving Covid shut downs, watch on surveillance cameras as their windows are broken and their property stolen. They sweep up the broken glass and board up the windows. And many wonder with them how such destruction and theft brings justice to anyone.
Our streets are quiet. I don’t hear traffic humming by as I usually do, just an occasional car. I don’t even hear dogs barking. But it’s not a peaceful quiet. It’s a tense quiet. Like the whole neighborhood is holding its breath. Waiting to see what will happen. Even as the whole state, the whole country, waits to see what will happen with the Derek Chauvin trial just ten miles away.
I was talking to an older friend today, of my parents’ generation. She doesn’t recognize her country anymore, with barricades around our capitol buildings and riots in the streets. I was talking to my daughter later who was stunned to be having another curfew, like we did last summer because of riots. “In all my life I’ve never been in a time like this before,” she said. And I said the same.
Three generations shocked by current events.
What can we do?
We can pray earnestly and ask God that question. And then do what He calls us to do.
We can grieve with those who grieve.
We can speak the truth in love, in a strong yet soft voice that turns away wrath instead of fueling it. We can do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
And we can continue to earnestly plead with the God of mercy and justice to intervene and to heal our land. We can humble ourselves and pray that He would bring us together and help us learn to respect, understand, and protect one another.
And hopefully we will find our way eventually to a place of calm, and the tense quiet will be replaced with the sounds of families and community working and playing and living together. In a state united with concern for all of its citizens. In a country that we recognize again, even as we strive to improve it.