When I read the headline about riots in Kentucky last weekend, I thought it was the Occupy movement. I figured the other 99 percent finally mobilized into action. Tired of the abuse of power by police, the indiscriminate pepper spraying, and the mass arrest of demonstrators who are only exercising their first amendment right, the people were finally taking action.
It was students from the University of Kentucky, whose basketball team, the Wildcats, had won a game against their rival, the Cardinals of the University of Louisville.
USA Today quoted the Lexington Fire Department Battalion Chief Ed Davis as claiming the mayhem was not a riot: “Last night was not a riot. At no point did things escalate, and we didn’t feel threatened.”
Kentucky student Alberto Velasco, left, and alumna Haley Nozell celebrated a first-half Kentucky lead over Kansas, as they watch the broadcast of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament title game, at Cheapside Bar in downtown Lexington, Ky, on Monday, April 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Lexington Herald-Leader, Pablo Alcala)
Wow. The big banks ripped off the American people and threw the country, not to mention Europe, into a severe economic depression. Corporate taxes are at an all time low, while CEO compensation is at an all time high.
Persecution of documented and undocumented immigrants (ie: people of color) are at an all-time high in places like Alabama, Arizona and Georgia, not to mention the rest of the country.
Education funding is being slashed. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed as promised by the Obama administration, and we’re not pulling out of Afghanistan fast enough.
And as if that weren’t enough reason to take to the street, we now have a racially charged, nasty case of shoot-first-ask-questions-later that the Sanford, Florida Police Department blotched and which has now launched an international media frenzy. Rest in peace, Treyvon Martin.
What is it about us that we remain complacent during serous social, political and economic problems, but go bonkers over a basketball game? I’m not a hippy, but back in the sixties, it seemed that many young people became socially conscious and took action to counteract the status quo.
Perhaps, because we look at the past with a compressed perspective, it is difficult to see how the present is evolving into one of the defining moments of the 21st century. How will we look back at 2012 twenty years from now?
Perhaps, we’re just too preoccupied with student loans, jobs and mortgages to take time off and raise hell for something we believe in. Or perhaps the government has won. Perhaps we don’t protest because we can’t afford to be arrested. We don’t want any trouble.
But, let’s not forget that whoever is in the White House, whoever our state representatives are, they are ours. Just as with the police, remember that we pay their salaries. We voted them into office, and we can vote them out. We, as part of a democracy, have the power.
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