Mayor’s Message: Being ‘mad as hell’ about George Floyd’s death

Mayor Lou Manzo reflects on the ongoing protests and events taking place nationwide and calls on the nation's leaders to step up.

A few weeks ago, a friend joked with me about my COVID-19 virus email updates. I responded by saying that I can’t wait for the day the coronavirus gets knocked off the front page, so I can write about something else. Be careful what you wish for because that day has come. I’m not even sure where to start, so I’ll quote someone else’s words since I’m at a loss: “I’m mad as hell and, I’m not going to take this anymore!” For those of you too young to recognize this line from the 1976 film, Network, I suggest you watch it. Great movie, and I think many Americans are feeling this sentiment on various fronts since May 25 of this year.

Let me explain where my anger is directed. Like you, it only took seconds for me to feel sick to my stomach when I first saw the video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25. Anger quickly followed and morphed into disgust as we learned more details surrounding this incident. Do I need to say anything more than “eight minutes and 46 seconds?” That’s how long Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled his full weight on the neck of George Floyd until he died. I’m mad as hell! Three other human beings charged with protecting us stood by and watched this happen…..for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

In the days since, we’ve seen the tidal wave of media coverage overwhelm our airwaves and us. COVID what? The TV talking head debates on racism, police brutality and their histories in our country are dizzying. Painting all law enforcement officers with the broad brush of this abhorrent behavior is wrong. While I totally support everyone’s right to protest peacefully, seeing the violence and destruction of property is horrifying. Letting it go unchecked is unacceptable and inciting this violence is both criminal and unconscionable. It all makes me mad as hell!

And finally, the third rail of this conversation…..politics. We have grown so used to hearing politicians (on both sides) spin and twist facts to fit their narrative that we’ve stopped listening to them. Or worse yet, we listen exclusively to one side or the other. On a daily basis we see news reports or interviews with elected officials from both parties from the president on down. I often find myself yelling at the TV, “Shut up!”

This is a time for our leaders to listen to what the American people are saying, which is “we are mad as hell!” Stop with the politics and just be real. It’s a time to openly acknowledge that individual racism exists in this country, while recognizing that a blanket of blame cannot be thrown over our entire society for it. Is that not a true statement? And perhaps the truest statement of all is that the way through all this, and every other challenge, is together. Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes isn’t physically possible. But that’s the path to all cures. We need leaders with that mindset.