Protests over George Floyd’s death

Charles protesting downtown in 2014

Had Charles been alive he would have been at the protests in downtown Richmond over the murder of George Floyd, an African American man killed by four policemen when they wrestled the handcuffed man to the ground and put a knee on his neck. Charles would have been so outraged and my youngest always expressed his fury with action. He was not violent. But he was passionate–all brimstone and emotion.

The picture above is one in which he ran into a friend who was protesting and got involved. This was a response to a grand jury decision in St. Louis in which a jury did not indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. With that decision, protests erupted across the country, including Richmond, Virgnia.

Someone said today that they could never be so angry they’d take to the streets. I remember how angry I was after Charles was sexually assaulted by the cop who said, “No one will ever believe a teenager like you over a police officer.”

As I cleaned my son’s hair of crusted blood, took pictures of the bruises on his body, I was furious. I hated the police officer who took advantage of his power and position to bully my son, assault him, and beat him up by the side of the road with his hands cuffed behind his back.

I wondered that day if I would be hugging a live child had he been a young black man. At the very least I think he would have been severely beaten instead of roughed up. And my heart hurts when African American women have told me, “When I see my son leave in the morning, I just pray he walks through the door at night?”

My son was not killed by the police. The incident was just one of many contributing factors in my son’s later suicide. But the day I held him in my arms as we both cried over what happened, I had so much anger with nowhere to go.

No one was listening then. All the cards were stacked against us. Except for the lawyer offering his help for ten thousand dollars. My son gets pulled for no probable cause, assaulted, beaten and the way I could level a score was ten thousand dollars.

I understand that helpless, frustrated feeling of powerlessness and anger. I understand when someone has had enough and nothing else seems to get anyone in power to listen. I understand the protest.

Police officers bow to protestors and ask for forgiveness regarding the death of George Floyd

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AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

6 thoughts on “Protests over George Floyd’s death”

  1. What a scary story. I can’t imagine. I also wonder what Whitten would be saying – he would be writing his heart out. Who knows, maybe he would’ve been in the middle of it in Brooklyn too.

    1. I know exactly where Charles would have been–in the middle. The looters are a different group I think, taking advantage of a situation. I don’t want to see this cause a divide as it’s hard enough to get officers to patrol where they are needed in these communities.

  2. Thank you for sharing this difficult insight, Anne Moss. We all need to better understand what others experience, especially when it is horrific. I love that Charles cared so deeply and walked out that care on behalf of others.

    1. As the wife of a former police officer, I am so very sad that some people blame all the officers for the horrible behavior of a few. As a social worker, I am equally saddened and horrified by the behavior of some officers who abuse their power. We need law enforcement to keep us safe and we need to be able to trust them. I also believe that officers need more permission to seek mental health treatment when needed. I believe compassion is needed for all people during these turbulent times. So very sorry to hear about Charles’s experience. I wish you had received justice for him.

      1. That’s why I posted the picture at the bottom. It’s a difficult situation. Today I don’t hold a sweeping generalization that all cops are like the one who assaulted Charles or like the one who put his knee on George’s throat. I’ve done ride alongs with police officers where we go in together and talk to gun shop owners about possibly choosing not to sell firearms to those who seem agitated or showing signs of suicide. I’ve met officers I have the utmost respect for and worked with many of them. I have learned that it was a police officer who noticed how many infractions the officer who assaulted Charles had on his record and made sure he was fired. Thank you for commenting.

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