Footage of police officers kneeling in solidarity with protestors has sparked optimism in some, wariness in others.
With thousands taking to the streets on a daily basis, fighting to rise up against police brutality and systemic racism, the entire world appears to be watching the George Floyd protests unfold. And while the sight of police reacting with violent tactics– sometimes unprovoked and often against unarmed citizens– has become disturbingly commonplace, there do remain those who seek to conduct themselves differently. At least, we can only hope that to be the case.
EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images
In Michigan, a Genesee County Sherrif by the name of Chris Swanson joined protestors in a powerful moment of solidarity, one that did not go unnoticed by those marching. While his actions, and those of his team who followed suit, went viral, it’s easy to lose sight of those moments amidst all the chaos. It’s also increasingly difficult to discern the authenticity behind them, with reports that some police have been kneeling as a means of lulling protestors into a false sense of security. Many have already taken to Twitter to debate the motivation behind these moments of perceived solidarity, and it didn’t take long for a “photo-op” narrative to form.
Viral footage of police officers in Montreal, Canada kneeling initially sparked waves of optimism — that is, until the protestors realized that they were only kneeling to put on their gas masks. Other footage has elicited a far more positive response, though many have questioned whether the gestures were simply attempts to save face in light of a worsening reputation. A perusal through Twitter reveals a healthy skepticism toward the police force, one that stands seemingly at odds with those witnessing the kneeling officers first-hand. Yet it does reveal an underlying problem, one of shattered trust — for a movement meant to “serve and protect,” a problem of such magnitude simply cannot be ignored.
Given everything that has transpired between police and the Black community, it’s clear that there is much healing to be done. It’s entirely possible these attempts to reconcile are sincere for some of the acting officers, and they should be respected for leading by example. Either way, this fight for racial equality and systemic change remains ongoing, with further protests set to continue throughout the week. Rest in peace George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others who have lost their lives.