This is Mike Tipton's opinion and do not reflect the thoughts of anyone else at iHeart Media El Paso
Topics like race are never an easy discussion to have, but they are some of the most important conversations that need to be had.
Memorial Day 2020, is a day that will be etched in the history books as one that has changed the country and started the conversation about that long ignored elephant in the room. Protest against Police Brutality came across like a tidal wave across the country and they hit the Borderland over the weekend, first in Las Cruces, then in El Paso.
It should go without saying that the men and women who Protect and Serve the El Paso area have done a phenomenal job, keeping the Sun City amongst the top of the list of Safest Cities in the country. Today was another example of how El Paso exemplifies itself amid the controversy.
Some have said "This doesn't happen in El Paso" or "These people wanted an excuse to to get out and do something because of quarantine." in an attempt to detract from what is going on. Gone are the days of uneventful by-standing and during your head in the sand. The uncomfortable conversation needs to be had. George Floyd was murdered, plain and simple, at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Officer.
Ask yourself, if this kept happening to people who looked like you, what would you do? Most of us are lucky enough to not have a story about a friend or loved one who has died at the hands of those entrusted to uphold the justice system, but it doesn't mean we cannot feel for our fellow human beings.
When I first arrived at the corner of Raynor and Montana, I was humbled to be there. inspired by the turnout and the people standing side by side displaying signs and words of solidarity. "ARE YOU EVEN FROM HERE!?!?!" came echoing out as two gentlemen began a heated conversation. The gentleman who screamed this out challenging a man because of the color of his skin "how dare a white man try to tell people how to feel? Are you even from here!?!?" a few more choice words and expletives were said... the white man taking the verbal assault until a group of protestors helped separate the two. "This is why I wanted to say away from the middle of the protest," said an older woman sitting next to a small child no older than 7 years old, as she and the child's mother grabbed her hand to leave. "This is what I was afraid of happening." Before things got out of hand a few of the protestors, black, white and latino, assured her they would do what they could to ensure a peaceful protest. "We won't let it get out of hand, we're here for the same thing."
ABC 7's Wil Herren posted a video highlighting the unrest on both sides. Chants of "Take a Knee", a reference to Collin Keapernick's protest that started in 2016, rang out from the crowd as the police stood their ground at the El Paso Police Headquarters. As the video continues more and more people voiced their personal encounters with police and began asking the question "how would you feel?"
This is a loaded question and one that is hard to answer. None of us will ever know what goes through the mind of a police officer at that moment, none of us will know what goes through the minds of the people who were victims of Police Brutality and murdered by those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve. The stressors of the situation are much more than what some of us could imagine and most would now know how they would react in that situation.
As the video continues the contention grows more and more. People protesting, rightfully emotional about their experiences, begin calling the police officers names and this comes across my timeline.
This is a touchy subject, but it needs to be addressed. Protest and riot are separate things, one is peaceful the other is inching toward chaos. Tear gas being deployed as a result of resistance is an unnecessary result of the inability to listen to one another. The angst in this type of situation is real, the tension could be felt away from the protest sites. The protest turned from being peaceful to something else at Memorial Park. What would you do in that situation is once again a loaded situation. What does it take for a community to turn to what we've seen the last few days? Taking the protest to riot, to a full fledged looting? Most of us cannot fathom taking something that far. Yet most of us haven't lived in an area where the police are not as respectful as our police officers in El Paso. What would it take for you to damage your own home or feel that it is an option?
However, this is an issue growing at an alarming rate is something that needs to be addressed and the conversation has begun, later than most would say it needed to. The alarming rate of this happening to a singular community is something that cannot and should no longer be ignored. We stand in solidarity with one another in El Paso, side by side with our brothers and sisters in the black community. This doesn't mean we cannot respect and stand along side out men and women in Blue.
The conversation needs to be had and it needs to be had Right Now, let us not shy away, or approach it with def ears. Let us listen, take in every word from both sides and grow. Overall there were some tense moments during the protest, however in typical El Paso fashion, we came together and roller heads prevailed. Thank you El Paso, you showed that even during this stressful time, you are and always will be #ElPasoStrong!