If you’re not sure why we’re protesting, read the Constitution
We’ve talked and talked about the flag and the national anthem. I want to talk about something I’m a big fan of: the Constitution.
I am the sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece and cousin of veterans and public servants, from police officers to prosecutors. In most cases, their oath was to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a flag or a song, but to the Constitution.
My favorite part is The Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility…”
It goes on a bit further about the common defense and such, but this is the standout line:
“…secure the blessings of Liberty…”
Domestic tranquility and justice depend on the blessings of Liberty, capital “L.” At the time it was written, this phrase was not intended for all of us. Since then, however, much lip service has been paid to this document that now applies to all Americans. We’re told that every citizen has an equal chance to prosper and is equal in the eyes of the law. That we all have a chance to experience the blessings of Liberty.
This is demonstrably untrue.
When a citizen’s First Amendment rights are violated and a police officer roughs them up for not speaking to him with what he feels is the proper deference, we as a country have a problem.
When my family member has her Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure violated by an officer, who tells her that she must “consent” to a search of her vehicle, with no probable cause, or they’ll call in the dogs, we as a country have a problem.
When a police officer violates a citizen’s Sixth Amendment rights and appoints himself judge, jury and executioner by choking a man to death — on a public street in broad daylight — for selling loose cigarettes, we have a problem. When a police officer chases an 18 year old, stating “I’m going to kill this motherf*****,” plants a weapon in his vehicle after shooting the young man five times, and doesn’t go to jail, we as a country have a damn problem.
The 14th Amendment provides for equal protection under the law for EVERY citizen, yet the law is not being applied equally, especially for black and brown citizens. So we have a problem.
We will not have domestic tranquility until justice is ensured for every person living in this country. If justice is applied to you differently from the way it’s applied to me — if the police can give me a “rough ride,” severing my spine, and face no conviction in my death — then this country is not living up to its promises. If the death of 12-year-old boy playing with a toy gun a park results in no charges and the officer not even losing his job until over two years later — not for killing a child but for lying on his job application — but the killing of a white woman who startled an officer results in a firing the next day, justice isn’t being applied equally. And that is more important than any flag or any song.
If you have more reverence for a flag or a song than you do your fellow citizens, I invite you to ask yourself why that is. Even if that is the case, I would hope that you also have some reverence for the Constitution.
But whether or not you do, we are not going to stop speaking up, marching…or kneeling. Until there is actually liberty and justice for all, things cannot be quiet and tranquil.
And this I can promise: We are not going to stop until America lives up to the promises in that document.
*This is the collective product of women of color and allies. This piece specifically comes from the voice of a WOC.