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Opinion: You've given peace a chance, and it's working 

You could easily be forgiven if you’re not feeling particularly optimistic about things right now.

We’re in the midst of a pandemic that has swept the globe at alarming speed. The economy has tanked. There is still a threat that something known as a “murder hornet” could spread across the country. And on top of all that, the brutal killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands — or rather, the knee — of a white Minneapolis police officer has spurred a 21st century Civil Rights movement.

So it’s understandable if you feel the urge to sound a primal scream and/or break something. We’ve been there too, lately.

But at the same time, we’re finding reason to hope, to have faith that a drastic change is on the horizon and to be proud of our community.

You see, Colorado Springs residents have stepped to the forefront and proven their immense value as leaders. You have rallied by the thousands, marching the streets almost daily in solidarity with activists across the globe, calling for accountability and oversight in cases involving police brutality. You have demanded justice for the late George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and you have invoked the memory of Josh Vigil, De’Von Bailey and Greg Burns.

And just as the early summer heat and the combined pressures of a government-mandated quarantine and clearly cut injustice reached a boiling point, you have kept your cool. You have demonstrated peacefully, carrying signs, cheering public speakers and chanting names.

When other major cities in this country were devolving into riots, ours has unified behind a common mission and vision: To truly live and model the change we want to see.
Now, to be clear, this hasn’t been all rainbows, teddy bears and “Kumbaya” (although, really, could there be a more beautiful anthem than this Black spiritual that invokes images of love, unity and mutual support for our brothers and sisters?). We’ve had a few bumps in the road, including a rowdy incident late on May 30 when the Indy’s Pam Zubeck reported some people threw rocks at officers and fired at an armored vehicle. Police, in turn, responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

There was a video that circulated on social media that appeared to show a CSPD officer using excessive force during an arrest at a local demonstration; the chilling moment when a female protester was apparently run down in a downtown street; the heavily armed civilians who stood sentinel at the top of a parking garage while marchers peacefully passed below.

But for each negative, we’ve seen myriad examples of how this community has unified and peacefully demonstrated for a worthwhile mission. Uniformed Springs cops have been videoed kneeling alongside demonstrators or snapping selfies with marchers. Our staff has watched, and reported, as you cared for one another with first aid, fellowship and the occasional shared pizza. The process caught the eye of Police Chief Vince Niski and Mayor John Suthers, who have both praised Colorado Springs activists for leading largely peaceful demonstrations.

And it’s making a difference. On Thursday, June 11, City Council held a special work session to discuss the prospect of a civilian oversight board dedicated to policing. While no final plan has yet been laid out, Council members and Suthers agreed that something has got to change — for the mayor it’s a shift from his position last year, following Bailey’s fatal shooting.

The wheels of change do not turn quickly, but here in Colorado Springs, there is progress. A new dawn of respect, equity and equality is coming to this majority-white community, and it’s coming because you, Colorado Springs, have demanded it… and you demanded it the powerful, peaceful way.

Editorial board: Regan Foster, Bryan Grossman, Mary Jo Meade, Helen Robinson, Amy Gillentine Sweet

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