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“I Can’t Breathe”

Upland, CA — My heart is heavy and I am tired of the necessity of us having this conversation, but as long as we need to speak on the matter of police officers killing black men with no respect for their lives, we will keep the dialogue going.  In some of my circles, I am asked why much attention is there so given to “Black Lives Matter?”  Don’t all lives matter?  Yes!  All lives do matter; however, history has proven that America has not valued the lives of black people, especially black men, therefore we need to shed light on this crisis.  During the time I was working on this article I had to go to my local post office and in line there was a white woman wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.  I wanted to cry.  This is a big deal because I live in a conservative community and to see her wear that shirt made a statement.  I told her thank you for caring.  This was her way of making a difference.

In 2020 when a police officer can disregard the words of a man who says he cannot breathe, there is something wrong. The question I ask myself is would police officer Derek Chauvin act the same way if that had been a white man?  We all know if black men were killing white men they would be arrested if not killed immediately.  Even the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey said that Chauvin should be charged in the death of George Floyd. Why hasn’t this happened? Being fired is not the same as being arrested and convicted for murder. Police Officers must be held accountable for their actions. Police Officers take an oath to serve and protect and that means for all citizens.  Sensitivity and unbiased training should be mandated and enforced for all police departments across the country.  If they cannot live up to that standard, then they should not be able to wear the badge.

For the record I support police officers.  I do not believe that all police officers are racist. I must believe the majority of them care about the people and communities they serve.  I have family and friends that have served on the force and I regularly make donations to my local Police Officer’s Association, but no one should be able to hide behind their badge or the color blue just because they wear a uniform.  I am the mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend to black men and my heart aches to know that they could walk out the door one day and not come back alive. This should not be something anybody should have to worry about no matter what their race or nationality.

When someone says they cannot breathe it means just that!  Breathing is the very essence of life.  If we cannot breathe death is inevitable. If a person is being held down on the ground with a knee blocking their throat such as what happened to George Floyd, their lives are in jeopardy.  New policies and procedures must be put in place on how police officers should handle people that are in their custody.  George Floyd was not even being apprehended because of a violent crime and yet he was treated less than an animal.

Former President Barack Obama said, “We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer – our homeland more secure, our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.” We must hold our legislative representatives and police departments accountable to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect.

Healing Without Hate:  It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, trainer, author and speaker. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.

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