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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


"Yesterday All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday." I can't get the words of that song out of my head. Like you, I've watched, on television, the last few minutes of George Floyd's life what seems like a hundred times. Every time I see it it's more horrible than the last time I saw it. His sadistic killer, Derek Chauvin, must rot in jail or this country will get no rest.

Marching in the streets all over this country are some good young people who just want the signs they hold up to be read and their words to be heard. Moving along with them are the bomb-throwing, fire-starting jackals who want to hurt, maybe kill, an innocent cop.

And then there's the looters who don't need a reason to loot -- just an opportunity.

But to me the saddest disappointments are the politicians, the people we elected to lead us during these dark times.  There is a president who has an army of speechwriters and followers but he can't come up with better words to stop the rioters than to warn them that if they come after him he has an bunch of "vicious dogs" and some awesome weapons at his disposal.

While our cities are being burned down and looted our incoherent politicians are flailing out, blaming the usual "invisible" enemy: It's American terrorists ... it's Antifa, a far-left radical group ... it's the skinheads ... it's the organized anarchists ...

And when I hear this babble my mind drifts back to "Pogo," a comic cartoon strip of my youth written by Walt Kelly, whose wonderful line during the McCarthy era still works for me: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Is there a glimmer of hope? There is. It's a woman, the mayor of Atlanta, who must be Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate.

Her name is Keisha Lance Bottoms.

She will make a great vice president, and perhaps someday a great president, because she is strong and smart and doesn't mince words.

She will get my vote.

Not because she's black. That would be the wrong reason ...

Not because she's a woman. That would be the wrong reason ... Not because she's a Democrat. That would be the wrong reason ...

She will get my vote because this courageous woman made a speech to the people who were threatening her city. She spoke to the crowd that most likely voted for her but she didn't mince words like a politician would. She didn't hold back like a politician would. She let them have it ... talking from her heart.

Here is her speech.

Please read it.

"Let me just speak to what's happening here today. Above everything else, I am a mother. I am a mother to four black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old. And when I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt. And on yesterday, when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do. I called my son and I said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'I cannot protect you,' and black boys shouldn't be out today. So you're not going to out-concern me and out-care me about where we are in America. I wear this each and every day, and I pray over my children each and every day. So what I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn't do this to our city. So if you love this city -- this city that has had a legacy of black mayors and black police chiefs and people who care about this city, where more than 50 percent of the business owners in metro Atlanta are minority business owners -- if you care about this city, then go home. And pray that somebody like Reverend Beasley will come and talk to you and give you some instructions on what a protest should look like and how you effectuate change in America.This police chief [Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields] made a video on yesterday -- pull it up on YouTube -- where she said she was appalled to watch the murder of George Floyd. This woman did that. You're not honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. You're not protesting anything running out with brown liquor in your hands and breaking windows in this city.

So when you burn down this city, you're burning down our community! If you want change in America, go and register to vote! Show up at the polls on June 9. Do it in November. That is the change we need in this country. You are disgracing our city, you are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this! We're better than this as a city, we are better than this as a country. Go home. Go home! And in the same way I couldn't protect my son on yesterday, I cannot protect you out in those streets. You're drawing knives at our police officers. You are burning cars. You have defaced the CNN building.Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city. There was a black reporter who was arrested on camera this morning who works for CNN -- they are telling our stories. And you are disgracing their building. This is not the legacy of civil rights in America. This is chaos, and we're buying into it.This won't change anything. We're no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man. We're talking about how you're burning police cars on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia."

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