In ancient Rome there was a leader named Nero. He was a leader that had lost touch with the citizens and what it took to govern in an efficient manner.
The inner section of Rome caught fire one evening and the homes and shops of the common Romans burned. The huge fire could be seen from Nero’s palace that overlooked the city of Rome. As the glow of the horrible sight illuminated the evening, Nero, a self-proclaimed musician, is reported to have played his fiddle as he watched the scene below.
Last week a truly horrific act of death took place in Minneapolis. The site was so disgusting that it prompted protest from across the country. Regardless of color, religion, political affiliation or origin the results were the same; disgust and anger. While something such as this can have the effect of galvanizing a community, the death of George Floyd has spurred destruction and death across out great nation.
The most fundamental question that needs to be asked is where is the local leadership, the leadership that forged a nation, saw us through the trauma of wars and made the toughest of decisions while standing up and saying, “The Buck Stops Here.” Perhaps if this leadership took a different turn at the beginning of this turmoil, the country would be in a different situation than we face today.
On May 25, George Floyd died while being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis city policeman, while three other officers stood by. The first protest began in Minneapolis. By Tuesday the Minneapolis Chief of Police had fired all four officers and asked for an FBI investigation.
As the police became targets for rioters, not peaceful protesters, the leadership of Minneapolis did little to quiet the rioters and instead took a semi-hands-off approach when strong decisive leadership was called for. The police precinct office where the fired police officer worked was abandoned and left to the mob. This was the worse message that could be sent to the rioters while the valiant police of the city have been placed in a vulnerable situation.
The officer charged with the death of George Floyd was not arrested until May 29, four days after the death of Floyd and after several nights of rioting.
President Trump threatened to send in the National Guard to gain control of the situation. This drew the ire of the Minneapolis mayor and basically told the President to stay out of this. Then on Saturday the Minnesota state commissioner of public safety stated there were reports that white supremacists had come to Minnesota to stroke the trouble. Later it was acknowledged that there was no proof of this.
It is this type of rhetoric that fuels confusion and displays poor leadership. The federal government stated that ANTIFA type tactics were noted and this is the most likely scenario. Ironically, ANTIFA is anti-fascist and antiwhite supremacist and displays a left wing communist-style of ideology.
The lack of leadership and lack of support of the police in Minneapolis at the beginning of the protests sent the message to outside agitators that they will be free to roam the streets. The agitators came in and since they were successful in Minneapolis they could be successful in other major cities. Thus the riots, no protests, spread to major cities across the country.
This begs the question of where are the leaders of the areas where the eruption is taking place. The religious leaders and many black leaders are standing up, calling for peace and refuting all violence, but where are the elected officials. Why are they not on the streets pleading for calm. New York City has been rocked with riots, fire bomb attacks on police officers and destruction. Where is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Why has she not inserted herself as she has done so many times before when she attacks the moral fiber of America? Why doesn’t she lock arms with Mayor DeBlasio and walk through the streets of New York, ease the tension and denounce the violence. DeBlasio’s comment for the police to handle the situation with a soft hand has fortunately fallen on deaf ears and the New York Police Department has done what it does best, take action to keep the order.
The worst of the worst leadership came from California. Patrick Underwood, a black Federal Protective Service Officer, was murdered in Oakland, and the George Floyd riots were noted as the cause. So where are the protests against his death and where is the federal representative and the call to have justice for this despicable act?
Alas America is truly a great country. Just as the Phoenix arose from the ashes so the cities are beginning to rise.
Sunday, residents of the cities, the local citizens, are on the streets cleaning and helping those that incurred so much suffering. Our leaders need to take a tough line against rioters, show empathy for protesters and benevolence toward those that were left to be victimized. These cities need leadership, the leadership like that which was shown by the Mayor of Atlanta. She is handling the situation with the strength and dignity accorded a leader in her position.
Tuffy Fields may be reached by emailing email@example.com.