This last week in the Triad saw a surge of street protests in our cities, with moments beautiful and terrifying.
In Greensboro, a Saturday afternoon action saw protestors shut down Interstate 40 with the help of some officers to protest the death of George Floyd from a policeman’s knee on his neck.
Later that day, after hours of more or less peaceful demonstrations in downtown Greensboro, chaos erupted. Shops on South Elm Street were vandalized and looted while the more formal protest actions unfolded on the tracks. Tear gas, pepper spray, those paint-ball pellets with pepper spray in them — all were deployed in the name of public safety. The conflict carried over into Sunday night.
In Winston-Salem, a different narrative emerged: Four days — so far — of peaceful street protests and demonstrations with virtually no conflict between activists and police, and no violence or vandalism save for a couple smashed windows over the weekend, one at a downtown barbershop after the owner said some racist stuff on Facebook, the other at Escape Salon.
Meanwhile, our state had its worst weekend yet in terms of new cases of COVID-19, and we’re using 80 percent of the state’s ICU capacity.
And just for context: Our president had tear gas deployed at peaceful demonstrators on Monday so he could have his picture taken in front of a church, holding a brand-new Bible.
If you’re looking to a 350-word newspaper editorial to make sense of it all, you’ll probably be disappointed.
We can take some solace in knowing we are all hurtling through one of the most dynamic periods in history, one that can only be fully understood through the lens of hindsight, which won’t be in place for years.
Meanwhile, the drama still plays out in excruciating slow motion: more new cases, more deaths and recoveries, more businesses going under, more demonstrations against police brutality, more actual police brutality in response, and occasional moments of sweet triumph amid the bedlam.
The world is burning. But we have to believe something better will emerge from the flames. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise.