I am a supporter of the Black Lives Matter Manteca Chapter and I am disgusted by the incident involving two Los Angeles County sheriff deputies, Claudia Apolinar and another officer whose name has not been released, were shot execution style by a gunman that walked up to their parked patrol car outside the Compton Metro station last Saturday night.
Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez with the Churches in Action group was the first to show up at the hospital to pray for the 2 police officers who were shot. He also called the actions by the “agitators” who were unfortunately referred to as “Protestors” by the media, as “Unacceptable behavior”. Bishop Mendez went on to say, “The hospital should be a sanctuary, we should leave hospitals alone,” he said. Mendez and members of his group then peacefully gathered nearby in prayer for the wounded deputies. I joined them in prayer (from Manteca) for their recovery.
Officer Apolinar and her partner were taken to a hospital where some “Agitators” (not protestors) gathered seemingly blocking emergency room access for other ambulances while shouting the following repugnant words to other deputies stationed at the front of the hospital, “Death to the police”, “You’re next”, “Let them die”, and “Kill the police.”
To call these people “Protestors” is downright wrong and minimizes the true meaning and heart of a legitimate protestor. Legitimate protestors do not espouse the death of others, period. My dictionary tells me that a “Protestor” is, “An expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid”. It says nothing about advocating the death of someone or something. Let’s call these people what they were, “Abhorrent and Repugnant small mob of Agitators”. Period.
I for one, stand with law-abiding citizens who overwhelmingly denounced and condemned this police shooting. I read Dennis Wyatt’s column, ‘Let them die’ chant outside LA hospital means the archangel is thriving during this ‘summer of love’” in the Manteca Bulletin, that said, “The thin blue line is getting thinner with each passing day thanks to the non-stop rhetoric war. Keep turning the volume high enough and you embolden people on the fringe to do despicable acts either in the name of social justice or using the rhetoric as a Trojan horse for anarchy. And in doing so it damages the legitimate reform movement.”
I want to take a stand to say that while I do not subscribe to the theme of a “non-stop rhetoric war”, however, I do see a movement out there that reminds me of a movement in 1964 when people of all backgrounds, colors, religion and political persuasion came together to speak up and some of their names were Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney. The gave their lives for this movement of today.
The murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, also known as the Freedom Summer murders, involved three activists who were abducted and murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi in June 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement. They had been working with the Freedom Summer campaign by attempting to register African-Americans in Mississippi to vote.
This registration effort was a part of contesting over 70 years of laws and practices that supported a systematic policy of disenfranchisement of black voters.
Today, I had a meaningful conversation with Sharon Washington-Barnes, Founder/President of the Manteca Chapter of Black Lives Matter organization. Mrs. Washington-Barnes echoed my sentiments and is also disgusted by this incident. She told me, “The BLM Manteca Chapter has a strong relationship with the Manteca Police Department and we will continue to do everything we can to protect all lives in our communities”.
I asked Mrs. Washington-Barnes to organize a protest event in Manteca against these police shootings in the same manner in which we protest unlawful police shootings and she is open to having the conversation with her team, being that this aligns with their goal to keep an open working relationship with police. I also sent an email to the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization and called on them to organize a peaceful protest near the hospital where those 2 police officers are fighting for their lives. I asked both chapters to please advocate that:
1. BLM and their “Protest” events do not support the death of a Police Officer.
2. Saying Nothing, Says Something
3. Silence Is Not an Option
If we want police and America (for those who do hear us) to continue to hear our cries, concerns and frustration with the unnecessary deaths of the Tamir Rice’s, Ahmaud Arbery’s, George Floyd’s, Eric Garner’s, and Breonna Taylor’s of the world, WE MUST ALSO PROTEST EVEN LOUDER against such crimes against humanity like this police shooting in Compton. We must be heard so that the movement is not hijacked by opponents and nay-sayers as they have attempted to do with the few instances of rioting, looting and violence that has occurred during the midst of the overwhelmingly number of peaceful protests that have taken place across the nation.
How can we not speak up for those police who have stood by us and for us? I know it’s not national news or a sensational story when police take a knee and empathize with this movement but those stories matter too.
What if these 2 police officers who were shot were among the police who empathized with this movement? I submit to you that even if they weren’t, they did not deserve to be shot in cold blood, no more than Tamir Rice in Cleveland, OH deserved to be shot in cold blood on a playground of all places.
I have said it once, I have said it twice, and now I’ll say it a third time, I believe as the bible teaches, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31. If we, as a nation, do not embrace this scripture, nothing we do, nothing we say, nothing we stand for, will ever last.