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Black Lives Matter – A Message from Michael Sawaya

June 8, 2020 by Michael Sawaya

This is my personal commentary on the current protests sweeping the country. Anyone who has known me for the past several decades can tell you that I have been deeply involved in civil rights and justice for minorities. I was an attorney for the NAACP for ten years and have been closely involved with assisting Latino and black children and their families.

The protests in reaction to the death of George Floyd that have rocked the U.S. and parts of the world are such that the U.S. has not seen since the mid-20th Century. There is an epic realization that the horrid injustice shown in the George Floyd murder together with numerous other examples of violence against Black Americans, can no longer be tolerated anywhere in the U.S. It must end! It must end now!  Tolerance of police tactics that condone such brutality must be ended, everywhere.  

It is extremely disconcerting watching the violent behavior by Federal Police and military in Washington, D.C. in response to protests in front of the White House solely to break up First Amendment protected protests in front of the White House. All this mayhem to allow the President to walk to a church for a photo-op with a bible as a prop. At the highest level of the U.S. government, the message of the protesters has not been sufficiently strong enough for it to have the respect it deserves.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that violence in protests is counter-productive to the protesters’ message. Shop owners and businesses should not be singled out for punishment. Everyone should patronize and support those who have suffered by the violence. Do not allow the destructive actions of those who are not allies of the movement overshadow the actual purpose and message of the protesters. Black lives matter! 

The true strength of this nation is in the inclusion of all races, creeds, sexes and sexual preferences. Let us all search for ways to encourage, motivate and reward everyone who wants to have a place in this great laboratory of freedom and democracy that we call the United States of America. It is not just a place for the super-rich, the super-talented, the super-beautiful, super straight or super-powerful.  It is a place for all. Please remember that each time you see someone who looks different, is acting a bit different or who just seems lost.   There are shared values that the huge majority of Americans share.  Let’s search for them as we also demand justice and equality.   Let us look for solutions that we can replicate with our families, our friends and our institutions.  

Economic disadvantage is an underlying issue of the current protests. The protests that began in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd are beginning to take on the additional issue of economic justice, For All! As these issues come more front and center, let us all use our voices to demand economic justice. The distribution of wealth continues to be, and further grows, extremely unbalanced. These should not be political issues; they should be justice and economic issues only. Let’s look beyond political labels and demand that our political leaders stand up for the values expressed in our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. All people, yes All people, have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.   

In a democracy, meaningful change starts at the ballot box. Please study the issues and find out who is contributing to the dialogue.  Educate yourself from reputable sources. Find out who is talking about human rights and economic justice.  Find out whether the candidates understand why Black Lives Matter.  Anyone who refrains from voting is abdicating their responsibility.  Please vote!  

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