Letter to the Editor

NAACP asks neighbors to reject the silence

Monday, June 8, 2020

To the Editor:

The Greencastle Branch of the NAACP would like to offer these words of comfort to people worldwide who are standing up against systematic racism, police brutality and offer words of condemnation to those who prioritize order over justice. Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Who can in good conscience remain silent at this time? It is not the enemies of progress that we fear at this time. We know who they are, and what they stand for. They long for an America that no longer exists. They long for a time when minorities knew their places and didn’t demand equal protection, equal recognition or equal rights. They long for an America whitewashed of its diversity and stripped of its beautiful pallets and hues. The long for a bleaching, a cleansing, a purifying that we will never allow.

But to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is not the words of our enemies that disturb us, but rather the silence of our neighbors and friends. It is the tyranny of politeness and the paralysis of civility that keeps many of you from taking a stand. We beg you to join us in condemning racism and bigotry in all its form regardless of what uniform it tries to hide in or mask it tries to wear.

We know that a vast majority of our police officers are doing their best to serve their communities and protect it citizens. But we cannot ignore the many cases of officers who should have known better, who stood in silence while watching a rogue member of their department engage in abhorrent behavior. Betraying his fellow officers, his fellow human beings, his oaths to protect and serve and the Constitution of these United States.

While watching the death of George Floyd we were struck not only by the actions of the officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck. But we were also disgusted by the silence and cowardly complicit behavior of the officers who stood and watched as a man’s life leaked out his body as they literally looked the other way. Their silence killed Mr. Floyd as much as any action did. It may have been the actions and silence of a few bad apples, but all it takes is a few bad apples to ruin the bunch. A few bad apples can set up a culture of intolerance, a few bad apples can engage in unsanctioned brutality, a few bad apples can kneel on a man’s neck for over eight minutes and demand that others look away in silent approval.

So, we ask you, our neighbors and friends, our teachers and pastors, our leaders and business community. We ask you to not only reject the overt obvious bigotry, the bigotry of hurtful words and dangerous actions. But we ask you to also reject the silence that killed Mr. Floyd. Reject the silence that allows family members to utilize stereotypes and laugh them off as jokes. Reject the silence that allows neighbors to whisper about the evil of the “other.” Reject the silence that allows people of faith to look the other way.

We ask you to join us and all other good people of courage, faith and resilience. We ask you to reject silence and raise your voices to demand justice, demand change, so that we can becomes a more perfect community, a more perfect society, a more perfect union.

In Love, Hope and Solidarity,

The Greencastle Branch of the NAACP