Minneapolis Police Death Los Angeles

A demonstrator, right, shouts at police officers during a protest Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Los Angeles over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

There is great pain in the African American community right now. It’s searing through the hearts and minds from the streets in Baton Rouge to the sidewalks of Minneapolis, Minn., and all points in between.

It’s enough that the coronavirus is weaving a long trail of death through the African American community, but now racism and bigotry have become more pronounced.

Actually, it’s always been there, but it had gone underground for a bit. But, those two have returned with a vengeance. Now, our fate is defined by “while black.”

In the old days of unexplained severe injuries and deaths at hands of racists and bigots, African American relatives would just retrieve the bodies from the woods, off the street or slumped over in a jail cell somewhere. Who killed them or beat them was supposedly a mystery. But we knew. We knew.

There would be no arrests, no investigation or a sham one. The sobering reality was that an African American family was broken and across town it was just another hurt or dead black man. “Ok, move on. There’s nothing to see here, folks.”

Technology has changed that, pulling back and the filthy reality of racism and its brutality for all to see.

As actor Will Smith said a while back: “Racism is not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”

The gut-wrenching video from Minneapolis earlier this week showed a white police officer grinding his knee into the neck of a handcuffed black man, while three other officers stood around doing nothing. The man wailed that he couldn’t breathe. Minutes later he didn’t breathe.

Had there been no video, my guess is that another story of how he died would have been told. Sadly, at the time of this writing, the officers had been fired but not charged with anything. Go figure.

That incident caused a black father to ask “He (George Floyd) complied. So, what am I to teach my son now?”

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The grotesque murder of jogger Ahmaud Arbery by white men in Glynn County, Ga., was headed to the trash bin of injustice until the public saw the video. The authorities and district attorney just whistled Dixie for weeks and ignored the killing until a video turned the collective stomach of the nation and other law enforcement had to do something.

Just more proof that the old racist network still rules in some law enforcement communities.

A recent video of a white woman in a park showed how using race is effective. She was angry because a black man asked her to follow the rules and leash her dog. She told him she was going to call police to say “there’s an African American man threatening my life” believing that “African American man threatening” was the lottery winner when seeking the quick attention of law enforcement.

Luckily, they were gone when police arrived, because things could have gone south quickly for the black man.

Spurred by the rash of brutality against African Americans and especially the Minneapolis death, Rev. Fred Jeff Smith, pastor of the iconic Shiloh Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, had this observation.

There has been “senseless death and indefensible cruelty this time under the cover of law enforcement” leading to deaths resulting from “driving while black, riding while black, running while black, walking while black, standing while black, sitting while black, shopping while black, playing while black, eating while black, sleeping while black…in your own house while black.”

The reality is that all law enforcement is not to blame. Not by a long shot. There are courageous, heroic men and women who put their lives on the line for us from dusk to dawn.

Sadly, Baton Rouge and other cities have suffered the loss of law enforcement officers who died while protecting us. True heroes. But there is a sinister segment in that group, including some prosecutors, who make decisions through a thick filter of race and the adage “Snitches get stitches.”

Rev. Smith said this viciousness can’t be legislated away or smashed by executive order. “There must be protracted persistent, uncomfortably raw dialogue that moves us incrementally from positions of inhumanity and indifference to embrace a basic respect for all human lives.”

Amen preacher.

Email Edward Pratt a former newspaperman, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.