Rasmussen: Check yourself guide

Columnist Olivia Rasmussen has been attending rallies, vigils and marches consistently for the past week in Des Moines for the purpose of solidarity and support. Rasmussen breaks down the many phrases she has seen or heard during the uprising of dismantling systemic racism and holding police officers accountable for their blatant corruption, abuse, racism and wrongdoings.

Olivia Rasmussen

This is a guide for the many sayings and phrases that are being tossed around (mainly by white people) without any further depth or understanding of the surrounding circumstances and/or past history.

Let’s start with a big one: “All Lives Matter.”

While this saying may come from a confused but well-meaning place or from a place of completely minimizing Black oppression and pain, here’s a metaphor to better understand why “All Lives Matter” doesn’t make sense right now.

Imagine that your mother dies from breast cancer and you want to show your support and grieve so you attend a breast cancer awareness rally. While you’re marching and grieving alongside folks who understand and/or have experienced your pain, a bystander comes up to you and screams, “All Cancers Matter!” While you agree that all cancers do matter, right now you’re focused on breast cancer because of the surrounding circumstances.

The saying goes that “all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter,” and that’s true. It has nothing to do with ignoring other people or other struggles, it’s just that right now, we’re expressing the importance of Black lives in the wake of extreme police brutality and systemic racism.

In the same note, let’s discuss “Blue Lives Matter.”

It’s important to remember that “blue lives” aren’t real because being a cop is a career choice and cops can take their uniforms off at the end of the day. Black people cannot stop being Black — people cannot choose the color of their skin.

But what about Black on Black crime?!

What about it? People are marching the streets and demanding justice over a police officer killing a civilian. These movements are about holding police officers accountable for their racial profiling, biased treatment of racial minorities, police brutality and again, systemic racism. Here are some stats for further context without doing a deep dive into the historic racism that is deeply embedded in our governmental and justice systems:

“47% of unarmed people killed by the 100 largest city police departments were black. These police departments killed unarmed black people at a rate 4 times higher than unarmed white people,” and “Police killed 1,098 people in 2019 — Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.”

Not all cops are bad.”

This has many layers but it’s simple to understand: if the good cops aren’t holding the bad cops accountable for their wrongdoings, then they’re just as guilty. Additionally, if the good cops refuse to even acknowledge the wrongdoing of other officers, they’re also part of the problem.

Why aren’t people marching the streets when a cop kills a white person?!

Let me reiterate — these movements are against any and all types of police brutality and injustice but right now, it’s mainly about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Marches and rallies have happened over the years calling for the justice of many people who have lost their lives in the hands of murderous cops.

What happened to George Floyd was wrong, but I don’t understand the rioting and looting,” or “rioting/protesting has never changed anything!

This is a complex topic to unpack so let me make it simple:

1. It’s not our place as white people to tell people of color how to grieve when they’ve experienced oppression and racism for literal centuries and have tried peacefully protesting in MANY different ways. For those of you who like to loosely throw around Martin Luther King Jr. quotes to “strengthen” your anti-riot stance, remember this: even though MLK was peaceful, he was still murdered. MLK has also said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

2. Majority of protestors are not engaging in rioting/looting. Majority of protestors also try to deescalate those situations when they arise.

3. Riots actually have changed the course of history. Examples: The Stonewall Riots got the ball rolling for LGBTQ+ rights, the women’s suffrage movement for equal voting rights and the civil rights movement in the ’60s and ’70s for racial equality, which shows how much further we still need to progress as a nation.

George Floyd is just one person though…

You’re sadly mistaken if you think this uprising is based solely around the killing of George Floyd. Here’s a resourceful timeline of events that have transpired over the course of American history that are only a fraction of why people are losing their patience.

None of this would have happened if they just followed the law.

For this example, I’m going to specifically focus on Breonna Taylor. On the night of March 13, her and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in their own home when cops raided their house on false information that didn’t even involve Taylor or Walker, shooting Taylor eight times and killing her. Walker, a gun owner with a license to carry, was under the assumption they were getting robbed, due to the “no-knock” warrant that allows police to break into homes without identifying themselves, therefore fired at one of the officers, hitting him in the leg. Walker was charged for attempted murder but after further investigation, the charges were dropped. The cops that wrongfully killed Taylor still walk free without any charges.

Taylor wasn’t a criminal; she was actually an outstanding EMT. She was killed in her own home for alleged drug related crimes she didn’t commit. I’d like to add that George Floyd was killed over an alleged fake $20 bill that wasn’t actually fake.

Additionally, to “following the law:” those of you who are allegedly against a tyrannical government and fear your precious Second Amendment right is under attack — take a look around. America has turned into a militarized police state and our First Amendment rights are insanely under attack right now: it’s our right to peaceful assembly, it’s our right to the freedom of the press, even though hundreds of journalists are being attacked and arrested by police and it’s our right to freedom of speech and expression.

But these violent protestors deserve to be met with force!

Here are multiple videos clearly showing police still using excessive force and unneeded brutality against PEACEFUL protestors. Here’s just a glimpse of what’s been recorded during the last couple of weeks:

Buffalo police officers arrested after shoving 75-year-old protester.”

A peaceful protestor trying to empathize with officers, while kneeling, gets arrested.

A biker gang brutally beat these protesters in Philly today.”

Several MPD police cruisers drive by peaceful demonstrators and pepper spray them from moving vehicles for no reason.”

A compilation of New York Police Department terrorizing peaceful protestors and/or people complying with their orders.

Louisville police looting and destroying drinking water and medical supplies.

Police in riot gear macing protestors marching for #JusticeForFloyd.”

Police did destroy a medic area during protests in Asheville, North Carolina.”

This fight isn’t white against Black, this is everyone against racism. It’s also a battle against police brutality. Here’s the list of the NAACP’s list of demands to work toward a better justice system. This fight isn’t radical, it’s needed to ensure the safety and equity of all people that cops vow to serve and protect. Here is a list of organizations you can support and/or donate to if you’d like to join the fight:

George Floyd Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

Fight for Breonna: https://justiceforbreonna.org/

Minnesota Freedom Fund: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org

Des Moines Mutual Aid Bail Fund: https://communitybondproject.networkforgood.com/…/101939-fr…

National Bail Fund Network: https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory

NAACP: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/naacp-1

Color of Change: https://act.colorofchange.org/donate/donate/

Black Visions Collective: https://secure.everyaction.com/4omQDAR0oUiUagTu0EG-Ig2

Reclaim the Block: https://secure.everyaction.com/zae4prEeKESHBy0MKXTIcQ2

Campaign Zero: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/action

Other ways you can help: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/?fbclid=IwAR2ktLXH5LuDrNXgdoHiC0lySwNWwVXt5Kl0b8MZAeN-1adr9c8vMVqayx4

The Movement for Black Lives (Des Moines): https://dsmblm.netlify.app/