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Minneapolis protests: We need to stop telling people how to react

4 mins read

I’ve always been hesitant to share my opinions online but if there has ever been a time to set aside my reservations, it’s now. This is less about winning an argument or swaying anyone who reads this — even though I do hope it provokes constructive thought – and more about making my stance known to my family, friends, and peers, so that there can be no confusion about where I stand on the acute and chronic issues plaguing our society. I’ve been moved by the pleas for activism, and the charge that remaining silent or neutral makes one complicit. It truly is time for everyone to use their voice.

When it comes to the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of yet another prejudiced, biased, law enforcement officer who heinously abused his powers, there is no shortage of conversation points, and stances to take, but if there is one opinion I’d like to share publicly, one notion that I’d like to formally denounce — for the record — it is the assertion that the civil unrest unfolding in the Twin Cities is counter-productive to the cause.

I have seen multiple posts essentially stating that the moment a fire is started or a window is shattered, “sympathy” for the black community is jeopardized and their cause is invalidated. By reacting angrily and emotionally “these people” lost their opportunity to affect positive change. The spotlight was on them, and they blew it… Are you kidding me? I cannot believe some of the things I’m reading.

There is so much wrong with this argument my head spins, but now that I’ve reoriented myself, let me first, and clearly say this — if you have lost “sympathy” for the African American community because of the civil unrest that has taken place over the last three days, then you never had sympathy, nor empathy, nor understanding, nor humanity, in the first place. This is an inhuman argument to make. If the destruction and theft of materials and property is harder to swallow than the continued oppression and killing of innocent human beings, it is very clear what side of the issue you’re on. It truly is no more complicated than that.

It may sound like I am advocating for violence and chaos. I’m not — I feel scared and threatened when I see buildings burning just like you do. I am advocating for the understanding and acceptance that as an outsider, someone not a member of a population who has been subjugated, oppressed, and marginalized for centuries, you can not dictate what is and is not an acceptable response to tragedy, after tragedy, after tragedy.

Murder, after murder, after murder. And if you still need convincing that it is still acceptable to support this movement, you can remind yourself that the violence unfolding is at the hands of the few, as opposed to the vast majority who are opting and pleading for peaceful demonstrations — even though these actions largely fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.

I feel uncomfortable, in every sense of the word, with everything happening in our society. It’s about time. We all should. Imagine how the African American community feels — but for god’s sake, don’t tell them how to.


The Daily Planet recognizes how important voices are during a time of outrage. If you’re at all interested in sharing your perspective, feel free to contact us here.

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Evan Lister

Evan Lister is a University of Minnesota Medical student studying on the Twin Cities campus. His pieces are all guest contributions.

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