Guest Columnist

Riots are the voice of the unheard

Kennedy High School students march through the parking lot during a walkout at the school in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday,
Kennedy High School students march through the parking lot during a walkout at the school in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Students walked out to protest recent gun violence, including the school’s response to the school’s response to an armed robbery in the parking lot. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The murder of George Floyd is a terrible thing that happened, and the effects of that tragedy have rippled out in the form of riots and protests that are taking place across the nation. I feel the pain of this event in my heart, as do millions of other people, including the family of George Floyd and the black community, as a black man was once again murdered in cold-blood by a police officer. This is a reminder that racism and biased opinions run deep in the blood of America.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that “A riot is the voice of the unheard,” and he was right. There is deep seated pain and anger in the heart of the black community as we protest the injustices that have occurred. We have decided to protest and riot but I feel there is no need for violence and for people to use this time of pain and suffering to do harmful things they normally would not do. There is no need for looting people’s stores or possibly homes. All that is going to accomplish is breeding more violence, and it could result in more death. I understand the reason for the violence and I understand the pain and anger, because black men and women are sometimes afraid to walk down the street, or are afraid to drive because the color of our skin could get us pulled over or killed, but we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to destroy people’s businesses. Instead we should get back up, because we will be stronger from this.

There is also another aspect to this. Many police officers have stood against what has happened and spoke against the acts of officers that they call brothers. I have had many encounters with police officers in the short amount of time I’ve been alive, whether it was because I was running away from home, getting into fights, stealing from stores, or having family matters get out of hand, and during these encounters the officers have helped me in different ways and have always been kind to me. They have helped me get out of some bad situations. Then, there are a few cops that make poor decisions that ruin the image of the rest of the police officers. “A few bad apples can ruin the bunch” my mom would say to me, and these cops that committed this terrible act are clearly “the worst apples,” but we cannot let them ruin how we see cops. Remember that some cops themselves may be feeling the pain that we are feeling ourselves, and when you feel that anger rising to the top, remember that we all feel that anger and it’s a powerful tool. We can use it to fuel ourselves to make the world a better, safer, and friendlier place, or we can let anger take control and make the world more chaotic and dangerous.

Jeremiah Zhorne lives in Cedar Rapids and is in eighth grade.

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