Following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, many people — especially Black Americans — said they were fed up.
They felt there had been too many deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police, too much jailing of Blacks, too many stiffer sentences for Blacks compared with others, and in general too little progress for Blacks in some areas.
Some of it was demonstrably true, and all Americans who could separate the real from the rhetoric were sympathetic.
Protests over the perceived injustices ensued first in large cities, then in smaller ones. People massed, signs were displayed, activists marched and demands were made. Meanwhile, statues and monuments were illegally brought down, buildings were looted, cars burned and innocent people killed.
Too often, it seemed as if there were some kind of tally sheet — 10 statues pulled down equal one death at the hands of police, one innocent child sacrificed for demands met in five cities.
It eventually began to seem ludicrous to most Americans.
Yet, the actions following Floyd's death have continued across the country for the last month and a half.
Until recently, businesses, corporations, governments and individuals have largely acquiesced to what has been demanded, or made gestures they hoped would accommodate those who might otherwise boycott their business, stop shopping at their discount store or create further unrest.
Now, many Americans — including some who were sympathetic to the cause of injustice to Blacks — are fed up. They don't like rogue cops or cops suffocating a struggling suspect, but they know defunding police departments is a non-starter. They'll defend people's rights to protest, but illegally removing or defacing public property and destroying private property are steps too far.
A couple of recent incidents in Chattanooga serve as examples.
Chattanooga police under the leadership of Chief David Roddy have been patient with the recent protests as long as they were peaceful and not causing destruction of property. Some citizens have said they felt they were too patient, but police have put up with — at a minimum — being spat upon, rocks thrown at them and hateful words spewed in their direction.
On Friday, when protesters blocked an emergency vehicle at Market and Main streets, that patience had to end. The emergency vehicle was trying to get to a collision between a car and motorcycle, where the motorcyclist suffered severe injuries.
Even then, patient conversations — according to footage of the event — preceded arrest warrants being issued for protest leaders Marie Mott, Cameron Williams and two others for disorderly conduct and blocking a highway.
And then on Sunday, charges were announced by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department for the same two protest leaders and one other man for an admission Mott made on social media of removing a flag from a county building and burning it. The three face charges of theft, vandalism, reckless burning and incitement to riot.
Williams, who had had an individual meeting with Roddy last month and numerous conversations with him during protests and marches, claimed the police chief didn't understand what was being protested. And he said, "They don't care about Black lives" and "I believe they are intentionally trying to expose us to COVID-19."
When such blatantly false statements are your best responses, you don't have much of a leg to stand on.
Another example of being fed up was Chattanooga City Council Chairman Chip Henderson's response to proposals of amendments to the city's fiscal 2021 budget made by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The budget passed the council 8-1 on June 23, but now the socialist group, in agreement with several other activist groups, has 11 city budget amendments and seven non-budgetary suggestions in mind.
Among them are removing $4.5 million from the policing budget. Some of the non-budgetary suggestions, we believe, may run afoul of federal laws and others from city laws and perhaps union bylaws.
Nevertheless, despite the budget's overwhelming passage, a discussion of the items has been put on the council's strategic planning agenda for July 21.
We are all for robust discussions of policies and procedures, and the input of outside groups, but we believe any discourse should concern the fiscal 2022 budget and not be part of a rush to judgment following the fever of recent protests.
"I have and will continue to support our men and women in blue," Henderson said, a view we believe is reflected by many city residents. "This is not about the budget, this is about socialism, and I have no tolerance for their socialist views."
As protesters and activists are quickly learning, sympathy for a cause will always have its limits.
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