Dear President Obama, Please Visit Baton Rouge

Dear President Obama,

I applaud your decision to speak at the July memorial service for the five officers tragically slain in Dallas. Your thoughtful words offered comfort to a city left reeling from a terrible tragedy. Those words also made me recall the rousing eulogy you gave at the Emmanuel A.M.E Church following another tragic mass shooting last year in Charleston. The way you described the concept of grace that day was thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring. To me, that was one of the finest moments of your Presidency, and a proud moment for our country.

Accordingly, I respect you a great deal as a man of character and conviction, even though I have not always agreed with your decisions. I campaigned and voted for you twice, and I am proud to have defended you countless times against myriad slights, often baseless and ignorant. To me, you seem like someone who sincerely appreciates the value of human life, and empathizes with the suffering of fellow human beings.

Therefore, it is with the utmost respect that I implore you to visit the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana before your presidency ends. To me, it seems like a community still very much in need of healing. All video evidence of Alton Sterling’s shooting seems to indicate that his killing by local police amounted to summary execution. Witnesses have been intimidated and harassed. An entire community appears to be under siege by a militarized police force, armed with combat vehicles and assault weapons.

To some, your decision to pass over the grieving communities of Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota where Philando Castile was also tragically killed by local police, may seem to imply that our government values blue lives more than black lives.

Clearly, that is not what you believe in your heart. I am merely suggesting how the situation may seem to our fellow Americans living in marginalized communities across the country who feel under siege by an aggressive, militarized police force that often seems to kill with impunity. You have the opportunity to do for those communities  what you did when you stood before that congregation in Charleston last year, and joined them in song.

To me, taking a stand for the inherent rights and dignity of all human beings by offering some quantum of solace to communities who suffered tragic losses at the hands of law enforcement will have a tremendously positive impact on your legacy. Doing so would also constitute a step forward for our country, as we come together to move forward as one nation and one people.

 

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