Violence is our legacy

Editor of the Reformer:

As we think about violence in America it would serve us to remember that our country was founded by genocide against the first peoples of this land and built on the enslavement of Africans. Violence is part of our heritage and has become institutionalized in our militarized police forces, in our military-industrial-political complex, in institutionalized racism and misogyny, and in our self-destructive assault upon the natural world.

At the one month anniversary of the day Baton Rouge police fatally shot Alton Sterling in a horrific, racist display of police brutality, I think of all the other known and unknown black men who have lost their lives and continue to lose their lives at the hands of the police. In 2014 the African American activist Angela Davis observed: "The sheer persistence of police killings of Black youth contradicts the assumption that these are isolated aberrations. Trayvon Martin in Florida and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, are only the most widely known of the countless numbers of Black people killed by police or vigilantes during the Obama administration.


And they, in turn, represent an unbroken stream of racist violence, both official and extralegal, from slave patrols and the Klu Klux Klan to contemporary profiling practices and present-day vigilantes."

One can only wonder with trepidation, as the old song goes, "There's something happening here/But what it is ain't exactly clear/There's a man with a gun over there/Telling me I got to beware ... Everyone look — what's going down?"

Flynn Johnson, Wardsboro, Aug. 5