Editorial: Regardless of blame, communities need safety, healing and rebuilding

Posted June 1, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

People chalked messages of kindness

CBC Editorial: Monday, June 1, 2020; Editorial #8547
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

It is like nothing Raleigh and other North Carolina communities have ever seen. This is no exaggeration. Violence, destruction and mayhem in downtown Raleigh, Fayetteville and Charlotte. These acts obliterated the important message of earlier peaceful, determined protests against discrimination, abuse and disregard of African-Americans and other minorities.

The concerns voiced by peaceful demonstrators Saturday in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington and other communities around North Carolina and the nation were drowned out by the shattered glass of looters in downtown Raleigh; vandals lighting fires at the Market House in Fayetteville and looting at Cross Creek Mall; the blasts of teargas from law enforcement; and screams of police sirens. In other North Carolina communities peaceful protests turned violent.

While many protest leaders, local and state officials have tried to press for calm and reason, random protesters looted and burned. It is astonishing that such chaos transpired with relatively little personal injuries.  Law enforcement and other authorities have been showing restraint – giving protesters of all stripes remarkable leeway to confront authority, express their views and in creative and sometimes even threatening ways.

“We must stop this destruction,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Sunday. “But I want to remind everyone of something vitally important: We cannot focus so much on property damage that we forget why people are in the streets in the first place. Black lives do matter.”

The dawn Sunday did bring some reassurances of our humanity. Volunteers, by the dozens, came to downtown Raleigh to help clear the debris left from mayhem the night before. "Raleigh is better than this, and that's evidenced in the fact that our community is already coming together to help clean up,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. "I am in continuing contact with Emergency Management leaders about violence occurring in some of our cities,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “(It is) frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systemic racism are marred. I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully."

Nationally, President Donald Trump’s tone-deaf, divisive tweets are not helpful. He avoids the issue. He ignores pleas for social justice, all too absent in our society. Here in North Carolina, hyper-partisan politics cannot overwhelm the need for state and local leaders to work together and speak as one voice for order as a remarkable diverse crowd of responsible protesters voice legitimate concerns.

This is no time for senseless partisan finger-pointing. Our state and local leaders need to work together to protect our communities from those who, regardless of motive or ideology, seek to do violence and destroy.

They need to show that they hear and understand the legitimate grievances from those in our communities who oppose and are victims of racial discrimination.

The work at hand is to restore calm, bring people together and help communities rebuild. Seeking understanding, peace and justice are expressions of strength and not signs of weakness.

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