There have been numerous demonstrations lately regarding freedom. Mostly White men and women of all ages have marched on state capitols demanding their freedom, by which they mean meant removing social distancing restrictions.
In some states, protesters were so passionate that they came armed with AK-47s, AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons, dressed in survivalist gear. Nazi symbols and Confederate flags were spotted among these crowds.
I have participated in numerous protests. In none of them did anyone bring firearms. Doing this has nothing to do with freedom. Its meant to intimidate and to make the statement that if the demonstrators do not what they want, they may use their guns to take what they want. Under the guise of freedom, their speech, attire and weaponry all shout revolution, and that is what makes these people dangerous.
Unfortunately, during this time of COVID-19, and with the spoken approval of the current president who refers to them as very responsible, these mobs are getting bolder.
When most of us speak of freedom, it is related to our personal independence and liberty as described in the Constitution. But there is a growing number who define their own freedom as having absolutely no constraint in their choices or actions. That is where the concept becomes dangerous, and leads Americans into becoming zealots who roam and patrol the streets. When those armed persons descend on state capitols demanding freedom, what they mean is removing the safety precautions that help protect all of us us from COVID-19.
Our safety and well-being is also being jeopardized by President Donald Trump, who has been egging on these fanatics, ignoring scientific evidence and the advice from experts on his team. This egomaniac, who did much to destroy Atlantic City when he owned casinos there, is doing the same thing to our nation under the guise of freedom.
Freedom is dangerous when an out-of-control president, defended by key Republican members of Congress, can remove an immunologist, Dr. Rick Bright, from his position as director of the federal office responsible for developing countermeasures to this current pandemic. Bright made the mistake of objecting to the Trump administrations narrative that the old anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was a safe emergency treatment for COVID-19. Despite Trumps push for widespread use, later research showed that hydroxychloroquine could be harmful, or even fatal, if given to COVID-19 patients.
Freedom is dangerous when, unrelated to the pandemic, it is the rationale for two armed White men, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, to follow from their truck an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, jogging down a Georgia street. The McMichaels claimed that their neighborhood had suffered several recent burglaries by a suspect matching Aberys description. But police records show that no break-ins were reported in their neighborhood for weeks before their Feb. 23 confrontation.
When Arbury refused to stop and explain himself, he was shot and killed by three shotgun blasts in broad daylight, an incident captured on cellphone video. Yet, no one was arrested at the time. Officials swept the entire episode under the rug for three months, until the video became public recently. Now charged with murder, the McMichaels apparently believed that they had enough freedom to make the incident deadly.
Freedom is dangerous when it provided a sense of superiority to 15 angry White men, searching for a missing 16-year-old girl, who banged on the front door of Monica Shepards North Carolina home around 10 p.m. May 3, while searching for a missing 16-year-old girl. One of the group was a sheriffs deputy in uniform, and others were reportedly armed.
The mob demanded information from Shepards high-school age son Dameon about the missing girl. But Dameon was not the Black teen possibly involved in a runaway incident; these fools were at the wrong house. As this teen tried to exert his freedom and go back in his house, the deputy reportedly prevented him from doing so by sticking his foot in the doorway. Fortunately, no one was killed but, yet again, no immediate arrests were made. It wasnt until five days later that the deputy lost his job and, along with one of the other men, faces charges related to terrorism and forcible trespass.
Freedom has now become dangerous. The rule of law is obviously breaking down, and once again Black boys and men are the targets. Refuse to become a victim.
Milton W. Hinton Jr. is retired as director of equal opportunity for the Gloucester County government, and is past president of the Gloucester County Branch NAACP. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: MiltonHintonJr@WritestheNation.
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