Who guards our rights guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the United States? That’s what some locals have been asking themselves these days, when they hear about more protests in cities across the U.S. that turn into riots with violence and looting. This is bad already, but the public confrontations in the midst of a pandemic have subjected innocent citizens to personal and property harm. There have been deaths, too.
Are we, too, in the cross hairs as a community on our way to joining others into what may eventually turn the U.S. into a lawless country? We see disturbing, offensive and painful images of cities we may have at one time considered calling home. They come live to us on our home computers and TVs. And we wonder.
“I don’t know why tragedies involving law enforcement in Minneapolis, Louisville and Kenosha happened,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, who addressed the Sugar Land Rotary Club at Churrascos Steaks & Seafood during one of its hybrid in-person and Zoom meetings last week.
Olson was referring to three incidents earlier this year in which Black citizens were allegedly killed or seriously injured by police. Breonna Taylor died after being shot multiple times by police officers in Louisville in March, native Houstonian George Floyd died in Minneapolis in May after an officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, and Jacob Blake was reportedly paralyzed from the waist down last week after being shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The string of incidents has prompted protests all across the country, including in Fort Bend County. The local demonstrations having been peaceful and sparse, while some others in the U.S. have been marked by violence and destruction.
Olson said it is unlikely that anything like that will happen in the Sugar Land area “because we totally embrace being part of the most racially diverse county in the U.S.”
“Our local police force is very diverse and constantly engaging with the public they serve,” Olson said. “Putting it all together means we have no need to worry about our law enforcement professionals.”
If we stop to think about it, the justice system is on one end that remedies our rights and liberties. And police officers in our society, who undergo training, are the ones sworn to uphold law and order. They represent law enforcement. Only this structural set up is not a simplistic one. An elected mayor in each city across the U.S. must use influence together with official power to drive a city’s policy agenda. And who defines that?
That’s what some people also want to know. An elected mayor and city council are the ones that define the policies of a city implemented by hired staff, including those in the police department. Those elected have a duty to represent us.
Here, we have come to feel a connection. Olson said part of that connection is the way we conduct ourselves in the community. We’re inclusive in boards, fundraisers, volunteer efforts and so much more.
That’s why people want to come to Fort Bend. We’re a microcosm of what America is intended to be.
“We live together. There are no Hispanic-American or African-American or Asian-American neighborhoods like many urban centers in America have,” Olson said. “We have no barriers to get to know and understand a different ethnic group or faith.”
So, if you ever feel left out, speak up – verbally or at the election booth. Because if you don’t, anger could brew and stew. Silence is not always a good option, no matter what you have to say.