In the fall of 1768, British soldiers were sent to Boston to “police”  colonial protesters following the introduction of the Stamp Act. Radical “Whigs,” who supported an American “revolution,” coordinated waterfront protests of the King’s authorities.

The presence of British Redcoats, instead of reducing tensions, provoked them.

After dusk on March 5, 1770, a crowd of colonists confronted soldiers guarding a customs house. After a soldier was struck in the face by an ice-laced “snowball” which drew blood, the soldiers fired into the crowd.

Five colonists were killed including an African American, Crispus Attucks.

Crispus Attucks became a hero that day  lionized in poetry, prose and song.

“First man to die for the flag we now hold high was a black man” is a line from Stevie Wonder’s song “Black Man.”

John Boyle O’Reilly, Irish American poet, penned : “Where shall we seek a hero? The first to defy, and the first to die... Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd as you may, such deaths have been seeds of nations, such lives shall be honored…”.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote Crispus Attucks provided a potent message of moral courage.

George Floyd’s murder has brought a “Crispus Attucks” type attention to the “structural racist” killings of young black people by police or vigilantes – Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and now Rayshard Brooks.

Many “heroes” have preceded this moment of “institutional” racism. Daisy Gates and the Little Rock 9, Coretta Scott King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, John Lewis (D-Ga.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), U.S. representatives who have contributed mountains of moral leadership in regard to race in this country.

Let’s not forget our local “heroes,” the Murray City Council, The Community Coalition and Sherman Neal, who provide leadership on the debate of removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the Courthouse lawn.

Ja Morant, a South Carolina product and Murray State’s most recent NBA star, supports the removal of the statue.

A regional ”hero,” Craig Clymer, McCracken County Judge-Executive, has secured the Paducah water tower for a mural with a hand of color clasping a white hand with the American Flag in the background and “United We Stand” above it. This is countering the symbols of racism directly across the interstate at the “Confederate Park” with a jumbo “Stars and Bars” flag.

Directed by Mitch McConnell, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced a Republican “policing” bill in response to the Democratic House’s bill on policing.

Sen. Scott was selected to introduce the bill because “he knows of the slights, humiliations, and dangers of simply being black. He is regularly stopped and profiled, and he receives racist death threats.”

Republicans have a choice – follow Kentucky’s “Great Compromiser” hero Henry Clay or parrot an obstructionist partisan like “Moscow” Mitch McConnell.  

Unfortunately, the Republican lock-step hypocritical uncompromising position on unconditional support for “qualified immunity,” a shield for police who perform duties and violate a person’s civil rights, is not supported by libertarian, conservative and liberal groups who believe it denies justice to victims of police misconduct. Obstructionist partisan?

The Scott Senate version does not include “no Choke holds, abolition of No Knock warrants, and shooting fleeing suspects in the back.” Plus, Sen. Scott’s rhetoric does not match in any way shape or form the toothless bill’s content – just window dressing – typical of a McConnell-generated bill.

Even though the time is ripe, the Supreme Court has decided not to take up the legitimacy of “qualified immunity” this session.

Yet forward looking policing reforms are taking place in places like Camden, New Jersey: bans on chokeholds, eliminating “no knock” warrants, and prioritizing social services, youth development, mental health, re-entry support, and provisions for the homeless that strengthen community resources.

Locally,  the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office has a “Ride Along” program, Play Day in the Park, National Night Out, and school programs for “heroic” community involvement. But the sheriff wants the mental health and social services components to be revamped with more funding for social workers and mental health professionals to take that load off his department.

But one thing remains,  “Heroes are Hard to Find” in Trumpist America!

Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at josephmarshallward@gmail.com.

Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.

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