Time is now for change

I lived and worked in South Minneapolis for 43 years before returning home to the family farm in Western Pennsylvania, where I met a wonderful retired coal miner, and have lived in Greene County since 2013.

During those 43 years, I lived and worked in South Minneapolis – often less than 10 blocks from where George Floyd was murdered. I shopped and ate at the stores and restaurants that are now boarded up or have burned down. My offices were in the heart of the Black community and in the heart of the Native American community.

On the day that George Floyd was killed, my Minneapolis friends sent me the terrible video of Mr. Floyd being murdered. Over the next week I was sent Facebook messages, emails and phone calls of the peaceful but angry demonstration that exploded on the corner where the Third Precinct Police Station is located.

I was sent images of provocateurs and rioters breaking windows, starting fires, and looting. When Migizi (Native American training and education center) was burnt, my colleagues in the Native American community organized their Native Warriors to protect their community. I received the image of the three white young men from Wisconsin who came to cause trouble. They were caught by the Native security who called their mothers instead of the police. The mothers were furious with their sons.

I was worried. I saw there were protestors, looters, and police reacting in a way that incited violence, and also white nationalists coming to make trouble. But even during the second day I saw there was something different happening. I noticed that the protestors were people of many color and cultures coming together to join the voices of Black Lives Matter to say, “We are with you. This has gone on too long.” This is a time for soul searching and change.

Community safety groups were set up, groups came out to clean and wash the streets; donation centers were set up where food, supplies and money came in; “Go Fund Me” events were started to help business owners rebuild. The churches came out to help families in the burnt community and do their own soul searching. Police began to admit things needed to be changed. Even though there is anger, fear, and frustration, for the first time in a long time, there is hope that the United States might finally deal with racism.

Don’t focus on “all lives matter” or “what about the white policeman that got shot” or “what about all the good police.” These are distractions so you won’t look at the 400 years of violence and injustice that Black people and Native Americans have experienced in our country. Focus on that so that we finally have the United States of America – the land of the free and justice for all. Making it right for all can only end up helping us all. In the end people can stop being scared and enjoy our beautiful diversity.

Margaret Boyer Huntley

New Freeport