By Henry D. Allen Jr.
Have you heard the term, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired?” I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing the killing of black citizens on the streets of America.
On Tuesday, May 26, I sat in my office in horror as I witnessed the death of an American citizen on Facebook.
On Monday, May 25, shortly after 8 p.m. Police Officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng arrived at the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for an alleged forgery. The call for service resulted in the viral Facebook video showing a restrained citizen begging to be allowed to breathe, pleading until his death.
The world watched as Chauvin pressed his left knee into the neck of Mr. George Floyd’s dying body. The technique employed by Chauvin against Mr. Floyd was not sanctioned nor authorized by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Only after Mr. Floyd had stopped moving did the police call for medical help. After being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, he was pronounced dead. So another killing of an unarmed black citizen brings yet another conversation concerning the death. I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired of having conversations about a problem that appears to be out of control.
(The four officers’ employment has been terminated for their involvement in the death of Mr. Floyd. A criminal investigation is underway.)
As the chapter president of the Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I work daily to emulate the vision of this organization’s founder, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so I want to believe in our nation, I want to believe in my fellow citizens and I want to believe in humanity. But I’m growing tired of being sick and tired.
I now grieve for Mr. Floyd while still grieving the death of Mr. De’Von Bailey. You remember Mr. Bailey, don’t you? Mr. Bailey was the 19-year-old black male citizen who was killed (shot in the back while running away from Colorado Springs Police officers) in August 2019.
Both Sergeant Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson said they saw Mr. Bailey, who was armed with a handgun, reaching toward his waistband and believed he presented a threat to the community when they shot him in the back in November 2019. A grand jury agreed and unanimously determined the shooting of Mr. Bailey was justified.
How can we weigh either death to be less or more important than the other? Both Mr. Bailey’s and Mr. Floyd’s deaths were unnecessary. I sincerely appreciate the phone calls and concerns about how Mr. Floyd’s life was taken in Minneapolis, but my concerns are also focused here in the Pikes Peak region.
As much as we are upset on how Mr. Floyd took his last breath on camera, how can we still not be just as upset with Mr. Bailey taking his last breath, laying on a street in Colorado Springs, also caught on camera? I will never forget. I have questioned the validity and the objectivity of the investigation of Mr. Bailey as both officers returned to work even before he was laid to rest.
On Monday May 25, 2020, around 8 p.m. near 3700 block of Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis and on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, around 6:45 p.m. in the 2100 block of Preuss Road in Colorado Springs something went terribly wrong and two citizens’ lives were taken by law enforcement in their communities. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I say to the citizens of Minneapolis the same thing I say to us here in the Pikes Peak region: Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. But I ask my community: Aren’t you yet sick and tired of being sick and tired?
The Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference will continue to work with individuals and organizations that share our focus to educate youths and adults in the area of personal responsibility, leadership potential and community service; to ensure economic justice and civil rights and to eradicate racism wherever it exists.
Your struggle is our struggle.
“The world censures those who take up arms to defend their causes and calls on them to use nonviolent means in voicing their grievances,” said Carlos Belo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. “But when a people chooses the nonviolent path, it is all too often the case that hardly anyone pays attention.
“It is tragic,” he said, “that people have to suffer and die, and television cameras have to deliver the picture to people’s home every day before the world at large admits there is a problem.”