Together We Can Build A Better Future

Over the past three days, Salem has seen unrest that hasn’t been seen in recent history. It might just be a few broken windows and small clashes with police, complete with tear gas, pepper spray, and flashbang grenades. While that type of action might be common in Portland, its a foreign concept to us in Salem. Even as the capital of Oregon, Salem isn’t commonly regarded as the battleground of politics, that honor belongs to Portland. However, after Monday night, Salem might become the push forward for change in Oregon by being the example to follow. I hear you that say, “Black Lives Matter”, and I can fully support the idea of police reform to better help our friends and neighbors. Monday night, the City of Salem took the first step to a better future during a candlelight vigil to George Floyd, the man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis a week ago.

Photo: Eric Watkins

It started with a march, a small one about two blocks around the Capitol. It then turned to kneeling and silence, a change in tone from the previous nights of chanting anti-police sentiments. After some guest speakers talked on the topic of bringing peace and justice, candles were lit and another march began, but this time it had some special meaning to it. A police utility vehicle, all decked out in traditional police lights, lead the way by escorting the crowd of around 200 to 400 on the march. Along the way, motorcycle cops were blocking traffic off and getting up close with the protestors, a striking difference from the clashes that marred the previous evenings in Downtown Salem. Finally, the demonstration ended at the site of the new Salem Police Department, an in progress building construction to future hold the men and women of the Salem PD. Protestors, still holding lit candles from the Capitol, placed them in front of the construction site as a memorial to Mr. Floyd and a sign of unity with law enforcement.

Not all cops are bad, racist, or corrupt. Not all protestors are violent, looters, or trouble makers. Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. However, right now, not only our black communities, but all our minority communities need our support and to take a stand against mistreatment by law enforcement. Law enforcement needs to know that we back them, but will hold them accountable, and we need them to hold each other accountable instead of instituting a so called “code of silence”. Together, we can crack down on mistreatment by law enforcement, while still supporting our law enforcement. Just like not all protestors are trouble makers, not all cops are bad. I urge all of you to advocate for change in our society, to stop turning blind eye to point blank police mistreatment, and to push for reasonable police reforms. I urge you to stand with our minority communities, support them, and fight for them when they cannot fight for themselves. However, I also urge you to support your law enforcement, keep an open mind on your opinion about police, and know that not all of them are bad, racist, or corrupt. Together, we can build a better future for all, but only together…

Photo: Eric Watkins

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