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For Peace and Solidarity, Tonight’s Black Lives March in Bunnell Should Be Postponed

| July 17, 2016

baton rouge police officers killed

At the memorial for fallen officers at the sheriff’s office in Bunnell. (© FlaglerLive)

I am writing these additional lines early Sunday afternoon in light of the latest assault and murders of police officers, now in Baton Rouge, less than a day after my column defending the Black Lives Matter movement went up. I’m not writing this to revise anything I wrote, but to address the Black Lives Matter march planned for this evening in Bunnell.

I was disappointed to hear from the organizer that the march is still planned. I don’t think it should be, certainly not tonight, and not for at least a brief time yet. Not because it’s invalidated in anyway (anymore than my sentiments yesterday were invalidated today). There’s nothing zero-sum about it. But because if we are sincere about showing solidarity and seeking peace and understanding, and changing perceptions, this is the occasion.

“It may seem to you that postponing would be a good thing to do but I ask you how can I go to my community and say, ‘The march is postponed because more officers have been killed,’ When everyday someone is loosing their life whether it be an officer or a civilian,” an organizer wrote me. “In no way am I trying to be insensitive to the point of separating us from their struggle nor do i refuse to recognize their loss because I can definitely sympathize with them. It’s not about separation it’s like you said, it’s about solidarity.”

And I agree. I wish it weren’t one march, but many. But timing matters. If today’s march “is meant to be a way to build bridges to ensure our community strives and our children [understand] that they are more than they are thought to be,” as the organizer wrote, postponing the march would speak more eloquently than holding it. And those who have spoken most forcefully about Black Lives, like Pastor Sims Jones, a candidate for local office who plans to be at the march, should show their leadership now and show that they do represent all (as Jones claims) and speak most forcefully not just for postponement, but for cops. It would diminish tensions on a day when tensions should be eased, not fueled. It would show in deeds what Black Lives Matter supporters say in words: that they, too, respect police and that they want to build bridges. It would allow our local police officers and sheriff’s deputies, some of whom, and now maybe more of whom, would be called to show a presence at tonight’s march, to be in less confrontational, more private places appropriate to a day like today. I doubt many of them want to be there tonight. I don’t blame them. They should be accommodated.

That respect is owed today in that way, and tomorrow at the European Village event for fallen cops, where tonight’s marchers should be. It does not in any way diminish the message of Black Lives. It amplifies it nobly, and it proves that solidarity is possible, not just essential. And if the march were postponed to a different day (I’m not saying a less grievous day, because these marches are also about grief), then I imagine that more people who would have never dreamed of joining a Black Lives march before might now decide to do so. They would do so in recognition for today’s gesture and to show equal solidarity, as they unassailably would not tonight.

We have a relatively calm community. A gesture like this would show why we are intent on keeping it that way. It’s not fair. Nothing has been fair about any of this bloodletting, all of which has been red. But it’s the right thing to do. And it would still live up to the Maya Angelou poem the organizer quoted to me today, whose last three lines are: “Do what you can do/And tomorrow your nation/Will be what you want it to be.” This is what we can do.

–Pierre Tristam

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam.

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30 Responses for “For Peace and Solidarity, Tonight’s Black Lives March in Bunnell Should Be Postponed”

  1. Kendall says:

    My family and I intended to go tonight in support of the march and our neighbors. However after hearing of the events in Baton Rouge we had second thoughts. Not because we feel less supportive of the Black Lives Matter cause, but because there is a need for tensions on all sides to diffuse.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the BLM effort could be combined with the planned tribute to the officers lost to collateral violence? That is the kind of bridge building that will contribute to solving this situation.

    Wanting our black friends, neighbors, and peers to feel safe, valued and respected not only by the criminal justice system but by society as a whole does not preclude us from wanting our law enforcement officers to be treated with the same respect and to go home safe to their families after every shift.

    What both sides want is really not that different. Respect. Value for their lives. The freedom to move about without being targeted. We always make the national news for bad stuff here. We can change that.

  2. BlueJammer says:

    Thank you for this note, Pierre. It is the right thing to do.

  3. anonymous says:

    Why is it only black lives mstter. Every life should matter know matter who, or what u are.

  4. Greg Feldman says:

    Thank you for this. You are correct in pointing out that this is a golden opportunity for solidarity and mutual sympathy. What happens tonight will be very telling of our community. I hope you are heeded.

  5. ohrin says:


  6. Ras says:

    This March was never promoted as a black lives matter March this was a community unity March and he took it soon himself to address it as such. In each article the main focus of the March was to bring to community together to help solutions to problems that pleige our community. And I’m no way should it be looked at as wrong for us to continue. And please remember that everything said was not quoted.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      This is Ras’s full statement: “You think I should postpone our event to show solidarity and understanding because in your view it would be the correct thing to do.
      There are certain fundamental human needs that we require for self-actualization and a few of those included are PROTECTION, IDENTITY, FREEDOM, PARTICIPATION, AND UNDERSTANDING. What I see in my community right now is a severe lack in many of those areas and I refuse to continue and sit back and watch those things being taken away from us. We as a people have for decades faced violent opposition from those sworn to protect us (both BLACK and BLUE) and today’s march was and still is meant to be a way to build bridges to ensure our community strives and our children overstand that they are more than they are thought to be just as Maya Angelou wrote in her poem “Hey Black Child.” The march today has received a tremendous amount of support from the community and many outside the community. So no I will not be postponing the event for those very reasons. It may seem to you that postponing would be a good thing to do but I ask you how can I go to my community and say ” The march is postponed because more officers have been killed.” When everyday someone is loosing their life weather it be an officer or a civilian. Someone was just killed in Volusia county but you didn’t ask me to postpone due to the lost of that life but because an officer’s life was lost its a different feeling that you get, right. In no way am I trying to be insensitive to the point of separating us from their struggle nor do i refuse to recognize their loss because I can definitely sympathize with them. It’s not about separation it’s like you said, it’s about solidarity. Sorry that you think the community joining together is wrong because of something that no one had control over. As I said before we have to start at home and today will be our start.”

  7. Algernon says:

    Anonymous – “Black Lives Matter” does NOT say ONLY Black Lives Matter. Your question has been answered dozens of times by responsible people around the country. Agree that every life should matter, but if one group seems left out, it’s reasonable to include them, visibly, in the whole.

  8. Algernon says:

    Pierre, your suggestion to postpone makes sense. People are on edge, and this might give distance to breathe in light of Baton Rouge.

  9. anonymous says:

    Damn right, algeron everyones lives matter.

  10. Allie simms says:

    Black lives white lives gay lives cops fireman mailmen local store workers all lives matter! Why do each of these marches have to be focused on one certain race. I don’t understand how a black lives matter March is going to unite anyone.

  11. Laroachi says:

    Let the cops stay home we have our own security…..somehow this seems like a threat wrapped in a cloth of peace

  12. dave says:

    March on! And if anything the cops should come out and march too

  13. Layla says:

    It is becoming rapidly apparent that many in this country are now intent on escalating the BLM into an attack on our police and our neighborhoods. We must not allow that to happen. Right now we must stand by the families of those who protect us. Well stated, Pierre. We all matter.

  14. Veteran says:

    If the mass killing of police officers continues we are going to have a major problem. National Guard will be called up and possibly martial law.

  15. dave says:

    If the mass killing of unarmed cititzens by police officers continues we are going to have a major problem. National Guard will be called up and possibly martial law

  16. August Maxwell says:

    Oh I dont know… When WAS the last time a police officer- was beaten, arrested,jailed or mistreated, because of his skin pigment? Hmmmm…. Take a walk in those shoes before you start suggesting what THEY should do- from YOUR point of view

  17. Sandi Sites says:

    I can see both sides of this – the march has been planned and publicized and it would be disruptive to cancel or postpone at the last minute. But I can see where there would be a fear of presumed insensitivity and maybe inflamed tensions. No easy answer.

  18. Donna Heiss says:

    I sincerely hope our deputies call out tonight. Then what?

  19. Sandi Sites says:

    On another subject – I think the people who post to these forums should show their real names and not hide their mean spirited comments behind aliases.

  20. W.Ryan says:

    The seeds of strange fruit produces predictable results when nourished by hate. Despite the plea of millions of people (not just black) about these and other injustices why do we not expect to see these alleged retaliations. Law Enforcement has been part of these injustices. (Whether they are white, Hispanic or black officers). Not surprising unfortunately.
    My son was bullied continuously at Wadsworth. He complained numerous times but wasn’t heard. After he responded in kind with force by fighting back he was suspended along with his assailant. He got the worst punishment because he appeared more of a threat, also as the aggressor( Black).
    We saw disproportionate punishment in Flagler with black students as compared to their counterparts. Facts were provided but yet some discounted it as false and the issue lost its traction. In my time at Puzzle Palace I witnessed one cop in my unit who was second gen Italian cursing out a fellow cop telling him that he should go back to his country. The cop that was cursed out was from Puerto Rico. He felt the conspiracy of the U.S./man on the moon could potentially have been staged. My PR co worker was blasted for doubting and was called un-American. Is this white privilege? I believe it doesn’t make a difference whether this BLM march happens or not. Their voice aren’t taken for a righteous cause by most but rather taken an intrusion in the fabric of America whereas the solidarity rally, supportive and necessary. Though I am a retired LEO. I support BLM wholeheartedly because I am a Black man first. My experience with the law outside of my uniform proves it. I see past the powerful thin blue line. My family and I saw the potential of my passing as a fallen cop but I disregarded it as most of do. A risk I accepted willingly to make a difference. When I was in uniform I was Blue. I still walked the streets with an eminence of death. I can say the same for my walking in civilian robe as a Black man. I have suffered close loses of friends and co workers, both through death and corruption. But I kept my perspective. I am extremely sympathetic to LEO’s. They are the middlemen. Thousand do the job. But many are separatists and extremists and feed into the rhetoric from the right. Justice has skipped Blacks in America. The prisons prove it. The drug laws prove it. Housing proves it. Income disparity proves it, etc!!! One protest supporting unequal justice does nothing by suspending or proceeding. There is sympathy and solidarity in death regardless. It doesn’t matter what news or happenings come forth. The eloquence of the words written by was superb. But not marching leads to the point of privileged being privileged and the undeserving diminished by ceremonious decree.
    Opposing views are un-American in this America.. If peaceful protest can’t stem the tide of inequity it will bring more violence. Violence beget violence. Is it possible to have a peaceful revolution? Yes! By reckoning! Good luck America! We will need it!

  21. PCer says:

    I think it should be Black Lives Matter too. Whites are privileged, we don’t know what it feels like to be suspected simply because of a difference of pigment in our skin. Until we learn that there is only one race… the human race… then we will need to learn to listen more and judge less, be more respectful of our neighbors and their struggle, love more and hate less, and be more empathetic not only to the BLM movement but to all of the struggles going on throughout the world where differences in skin, where you were born, who you pray to, or who you love can determine how you are treated.

  22. Meeeeeeeeeeeeee says:

    We know “All Lives Matter” but that is beside the point. Black lives are taken for granted, we as a whole are under looked because we are black. You all don’t understand because it’s not something that you have to constantly live through. It’s different watching from the sideline than actually going through the trials we as black folks have to endure. You all are saying “All lives Matter” when reality most of you couldn’t care if we were living or not.. We’re sick and tired of being looked at as the “Under Dog.” We are about make a change and come whether you all are ready or not. ✊🏿

  23. Meeeeeeeeeeeeee says:

    You can’t fully understand something until you actually go through it..

  24. Allie sands says:

    You have bad and good in all races and professions. Blacks can claim to be underprivileged so can whites but that is a choice people make. Instead of complaining about how bad you have it people need to get off their butts get an education and start teaching their kids respect . Life is what you make it and how you get treated is how you treat people. Ita simple get off your butts quit poping off kids you can’t afford living on welfare sitting home all day doing nothing but playing the gangster routine.

  25. PCer says:

    Allie sands have you any idea how offensive you sound?

  26. dave says:

    Allie you make me sad. You obviously have no idea what you talking about. There are very successful people in this world that are still treated unfairly whether it be because of race or sex. Children of successful black parents must still be careful how they act or what they say, not to mention the parents themselves. Get a clue.

  27. Ras says:

    To bad you didn’t take the time to come and find out lol

  28. Ras says:

    Allie should have participated in the March maybe you would have learned something

  29. jasonb says:

    It’s a national disgrace that police officers have a long history of being enslaved, treated as 3/5ths human, denied basic human rights, denied the right to vote, tortured and lynched ………. oh wait

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