I will write about this more to come in the next many weeks, but fire has been a common theme in much of what is happening these past couple of weeks. A fire was ignited when George Floyd was killed at the hands of a now former, Minneapolis Police Officer. A spark flew, and ignited protests for justice in a city that had already been smoldering for many years. Fires were set, during riots at precincts and neighborhoods burnt to the ground. A fire grew in my soul and has sparked a journey through pain, loss, reflection and activism.
I have only shared this story with a few. It is painful and scary and there are many details that I cannot even bring myself to put to words. Many of you probably watched the night that the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis went up into flames. What some of you know, but most may not, is that Matt was at the 3rd precinct, that night, and what happened is not only disturbing and wrong, but cannot be shared publicly. I like many watched it unfold on tv. I had gotten a text from Matt saying where he was being located to, and that he would update me when he could. Everything in those first couple of days was very fluid and surreal. I sat on the edge of my seat, watching and looking for a glimpse of my husband, this man I admire and love. I watched to see if he was safe. I waited to see what this night would bring.
We had been told to leave and find a place of safety. Many did not know this, but our addresses were out there. Some of the other officers, even other departments, had already had things happen to their homes. Matt asked us to leave so that he did not have an extra worry on his plate. We had little time to pack, and left to be with my family. We all sat huddled at the television. I watched the situation grow more intense by the minute. I became increasingly aware that this was not going to end well. I had not heard from him in hours. The day had become night. Target had been ransacked. Carts were piling up. The news was saying molotov cocktails. I had to walk away.
When I returned, what I saw dropped me to my knees. I watched a building go up in flames. I knew at that moment that we could not turn back. What had started as protests had taken a turn for the ugly. Tempers had raged. All sanity had been released. The bed had been made.
We waited. We wondered. We cried and we worried. I sat quietly and prayed. In the wee hours of the morning, by the grace of God, I got a text. “I am ok.” That is all he said. I cried to myself. Everyone had either gone to bed or fallen asleep where they were. I wiped my eyes and read it again. I checked the time to make sure I was right. I am not sure I can accurately describe what I felt in that moment so I am not going to try.
For many reasons, I cannot go into detail about what really happened that day. In time, when all is said and done, I will tell the story. I will tell the brave moments of 30 men and women. I will make an argument why, in the quiet corners of the night, when the tempers rage and sanity is released, you still need them by your side. These were not men and women who ran away. One day, you will hear their stories and you too will drop to your knees and cry.
Now the fire has turned and changed paths. The flames lick at the Police Federation Building, the neighborhoods that are left, and the confines of city hall where discussions are taking place that will change things forever.
Many have gone on with their daily lives. Things are starting, to open back up. People are getting back to a routine. What is happening behind closed doors in the narrows of those halls, in a building made of rose granite, where fire should never seep, is the burning of embers of contempt, politics and a need for consequence. Let us not forget, those who brought us to this place have already been taken away. Those that are left are being made the example friends! It is really just that simple. There are discussions, real discussions and calls for unforgivable change. I call it collective guilt or blame.
Here is the thing folks, now is your chance to speak. If you do not agree with this collective guilt or blame, they must hear your screams. Failure to do just this will be a grave mistake. They can and will eliminate your solace and your peace! If you do agree with this narrative, then you will feel these same flames lick your house or neighborhood. Maybe not tomorrow, but it will eventually make its way.
I hope as I write this I spark your realization that what is happening is not isolated to Minneapolis. If this happens there, it can really happen anywhere. I guarantee that this goes deeper than those smoldering embers. This does not honor the memory of George Floyd, or fix what many say has broken. This stokes the flames further of inequity and divide. It leaves those in power and with means the ability to guarantee their safety. As always, those who have little, are left with just that. In my eyes, the injustice in that burns far hotter than any fire set that night.
I pray each night that with what all have been through it will not end this way. I pray that the weary men and women of Minneapolis police are able to return another day, with dignity, to a service they desire. I pray that God gives them the strength to continue their important work each day. Lastly, I pray the leaders of Minneapolis realize in their hearts that this is not politics and that although exhausted and broken, that eliminating those brave men and women, who devote their souls to this community is and never will be, a spark to ignite.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. Matthew 5:9
“Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work”. 1 Corinthians 3:13