DAN YORKE – COVID may be accelerant for real change

DAN YORKE – COVID may be accelerant for real change

George Floyd was allegedly murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin who while staring into a witness’s smart phone, kept one knee on his victim’s neck and one hand in his own pocket for nearly nine minutes. Onlookers were horrified. He seemed unfazed. Even at the moment of Mr. Floyd’s passing.

It’s not hard to imagine what a “normal” pre-COVID response would have been. A couple of news cycles full of foot-dragging investigative response, community activists and national figures making speeches on the ground and on the cable news networks. Yes, some protests in the streets of Minneapolis and a handful across the country. The flame burns out. In less than a week, turn the page. And America turns its back once again.

But not this time. COVID-19 may just be the accelerant that finally forces the country to confront a very serious reality that the criminal justice system is stacked against minorities, especially black males.

For years, former officer and now charged Derek Chauvin worked in his urban community and even in the middle of this pandemic couldn’t find just a life-saving dose of empathy. Tangible, unavoidable evidence.

Add his act and attitude to a recent trend of Washington civil rights indifference and multiply it by pent-up frustration from COVID-19. It equaled massive righteous protests unfortunately exploited by criminals and anarchists, ironically and perhaps dangerously ignoring social distance protections from the virus. But that risk hopefully is worth the reward.

Pray that in the short run we can agree on real constructive change, honoring the memory of those lost and keeping intact our respect for dominantly well intended law enforcement.

Get back to work

Turning to matters of Rhode Island governance, our legislature is convening by June 15. The pressure must have got to them.

Sigh.

The leadership will let your elected officials designate a proxy for voting if they’re queasy about COVID. Of course, they could have been working on a web-based solution for their session like every business on the planet. They could meet in a larger venue for social distance or erect a tent. That would have been too much to ask.

They will pass some supplemental budget and extend the real 2021 fiscal budget past the June 30 deadline. No argument here. They don’t know yet what’s coming from Washington in COVID aid.

Yet there’s no excuse for their still intact non-plan to leave the entire COVID phasing to the overextended governor.

She’s been double-speaking about the effectiveness of what she calls her nation leading testing program. Her administration is sometimes inconsistent on its COVID rulings, even between departments.

She (along with the first gentleman and staff) even “forgot” to put on her mask last Friday night when law enforcement requested she come speak to the lingering testy protest crowd at the Statehouse, a terrible leadership optic for the autonomous boss of Rhode Island Covid protocols.

Just as when the president wondered out loud about injecting bleach as a remedy for the virus and some people in the country tried it, there’s now a prorated larger Rhode Island crowd who will say “screw the mask, if she ain’t doin’ it, I’m not either.”

She has offered and most will accept her gratuitous apology for her missing mask. On this one there’s no sense crying over a little spilled milk.

But we deserve more than an apology from our legislature. That vat of spilled milk is still overflowing.

Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weeknights on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.

Comments

"...dominantly well intended law enforcement." And, dominantly well executed law enforcement.

"They don’t know yet what’s coming from Washington in COVID aid." I agree with your premise, but to those not in government it is difficult to grasp the utter frustration of constantly changing interpretations of regulations about qualifying and non-qualifying reimbursables.

So, we are to believe that the Guv spontaneously went to a protest sans mask, even after chiding us day in and out to never forget to bring a mask with us, everywhere? And, the Adjutant General was by her side, along with the State Police LT. Col, all sans masks. And, she then held hands and prayed with members of the crowd. She violated Providence's curfew, her executive order against groups in excess of 15 and her executive order regarding social distancing. This is more than some "spilled milk." She made a conscious decision to violate all these orders and then stated she would further violate her own executive order by NOT quarantining for the requisite 14 days. The governor clearly believes the rules are for thee and not for me and the whole incident exposes her for the hypocrite she is.