A cry for compassion

The connection between protests against police brutality and early american uprisings

There is a state of emergency in the city of Baltimore, but really, there has been a state of emergency from coast to coast, Maine to California and Hawaii and back. There is also a state of emergency regarding the apathy and lack of concern for the turmoil that our communities are facing.

It puzzles me. It puzzles me because the events in recent years are not new. So many people in our communities are affected by and have been affected by police brutality and the power of the state against its own citizens. History tells us all too often that oppression gets easily forgotten. Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Rekiya Boyd, Aiyana Jones and the countless other daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers who have been taken from their families, are all victims of a larger role of institutional agents that have subjugated the lives of black people. There is a larger connection to these lives and the causes of the early American settlers and colonists who felt an institutional agent working against them. And in those cases, efforts were made to rectify wrongs. They were called rebellions. Rebellions in this land are older than this country itself.

In the events following the American Revolution, one key tactic was that of the Boston Tea Party. Frustrated with the tax impositions placed upon the colonists, the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Native Americans, dumped over 300 tea chests into the Boston harbor. A few years later, American farmers, upset with tax impositions placed at the state level were able to act out in what would later be remembered as Shay’s Rebellion. In these demonstrations, frustrated farmers acted out. Similarly, when taxes were imposed on whiskey, insurrection surely followed.

The pattern I am seeing here is that when those American taxpayers felt like their voices were not being heard, they did something about it. None of their actions were immediately approved by the state. The revolution will not be, and usually isn’t, welcomed. But more importantly, the actions of your forefathers were not polite nor were they peaceful, but they were effective.

After highlighting the events that have taken place, some around wartime and other times in history, I want to encourage all of you reading this to consider our nation’s history when you consider the events surrounding Baltimore, Ferguson and other cities that are distressed. We have been built up as a nation of uprising. When Americans want something, they demonstrate. I am urging you all to care about the protestors in Baltimore because they are fighting for the same benefits that we as a people have always been fighting for. This is the fabric of the American story.