Black Lives Matter protests have been active for many weeks now and the chant “I can't Breathe” has been an emotional one for me. The names called out who have been killed by police violence is another with echoes of my childhood attending mass and participating in the Litany of the Saints.

I keep hearing people talking “How about instead of disbanding police you quit breaking the law?”

The protests are not about breaking the law but of being oppressed by the very police they are supposed to rely on to keep the peace.

BLM isn't asking to disband police they want to transform the police structure and how it is implemented within their community.

As for the other error in the above statement, most white people have no idea what it means to be “driving while black”. While I have had two experiences in my life which gave me a realistic understanding of what that might be like and yet I do not believe it is anywhere close to a black person's experience.

The first episode occurred when I moved my family back to the Schaumburg, Illinois area in 1981 to start a small business. I was driving an old beater of a car which I had picked up from a cook at a Swenson's Ice Cream Parlor for $50.00. It was an old Ford LTD four-door sedan. My daughter was in the back seat and my wife was in the front passenger seat. We were driving South on Roselle Rd. in a shopping area with plenty of lighting.

I noticed a police car behind me with lights on, so I pulled over to the right expecting them to pass me but they pulled in behind instead. It was early evening dark but not yet complete darkness. I pulled my wallet out to access my license as he approached and rolled down my window. In the meantime, another car pulled behind the other squad and he came around on the passenger side with his gun drawn and pointed at my daughter Heather in the back seat who was about seven (7) years old at the time.

The questions were polite but somewhat puzzling about where we were going and where did we come from and the officer then asked where my license applied for sticker was and I pointed it out posted on the passenger side of the windshield. He said that they stopped us because we didn't have it posted in the right location.

After he left I checked the instructions on the sticker and it was posted in the correct location.

Even if it had been posted in the wrong location why had the officer “backing him up” have their gun drawn and pointed at my daughter? Clearly, that was not the reason.

The car was clearly a poor man's car and in that area which would be driven by a minority in most cases.

When the officer got to my window and saw I was white he didn't ask me to get out of the car. He didn't throw me on the ground cuff me or kneel on my neck. He simply found a way to say why I was stopped and sent me on my way. I do not think that is how it would have gone down if I had been black.

The second instance occurred when I was in Real Estate and driving from Hanover Park where I lived to the office I worked out of in Bartlett, Il. It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning and my wife was in the car with my children in the back seat.

I happened to be driving my younger brother's car at the time as he borrowed mine to help him move.

I noticed a police car following behind me and I expected to get pulled over but the officer stayed back and did not approach. I got out at my Real Estate Office and my wife continued to proceed to the church. Just after leaving the Real Estate Office parking lot my wife was pulled over and surrounded by five suburban police vehicles. They kept asking my wife about the location of my brother. Again, they had their weapons drawn and pointed at my children and my wife. She had to get out of the car and open the hatchback portion of the car to retrieve her purse and the “popping” noise made the officers jump back. She retrieved her purse to show her identification to the officers who after detaining her for about a half-hour decided to let her proceed on her way to church.

Evidently, my brother had been in a bar fight at some point and had missed a court date in which they were attempting to execute an arrest warrant on him.

You must understand this was a bright and sunny Sunday morning. What would have happened if this had occurred at night or late evening? Why were the weapons drawn and pointed towards the vehicle with children clearly in the back seat?

The fact that there was no “incident” which resulted in injury or death does not excuse the tactics that were followed in either instance.

In both cases, the vehicle probably had the biggest influence on the tactics the officers chose to use in approaching us. It is clearly a policy of the suburban police in my experience to disproportionately stop cars which are most often driven by poor people and people of color. The officers' approach is clearly based on fear of the occupant based on their assumed color.

I read a book when I was younger entitled “Black Like Me” in which the author, a white man, had injections that darkened his skin and he went about his life doing and acting himself. It was the reaction to him because of his skin color which shocked and transformed the author to raise his voice and write the book trying to demonstrate to white folk the different skin color makes. How it triggers racist responses and behavior.

An attempt to walk in the other person's shoes to speak and to gain a real understanding of their perspective.

I have tried to live my life that way and I feel for white America it is time that we all try and do the same.

I am 71 years old and recent events headlined across our news media, remind me why I continue to try and lead my community towards a better future. During high school, we debated the morality of the Vietnam war, civil rights, the treatment of farmworkers, and the ability of workers to organize. The underlying issue for all is a simple concept, held by those in power, that somehow they have privilege over other segments of our society. The headlines starkly reveal those same attitudes are still prevalent. The resulting policies that stem from that attitude creating income inequality and oppression which has reached a boiling point in America. Many not understanding what having “white privilege” signifies nor how it has created two Americas stand by bewildered by the passion of the protesters. When I was young I marched on Washington to end the war. I marched in support of civil rights. I picketed for Farm Workers and their right to organize. We invited organizers to live with us to help with the cause. Sadly, our involvement went dormant with the assassination of Robert Kennedy. The hope for change went dormant. That was some forty-plus years ago. It took Barak Obama's candidacy to reignite my hopefulness in the future of America and the possibility of attaining its best potential for all its citizens. When you are campaigning you can be partisan, but once elected to an office you swear an oath to represent all the citizens within your jurisdiction. All must be heard and feel that they have been heard. These headlines and the protests simply are a stark reminder of all the work that needs to be done at every level of our government. This is why I have become a candidate for McHenry County Board from District 6. I hope that we might take this moment and create One America from the bottom up. Larry Spaeth Democratic Candidate for McHenry County Board District 6

  • Larry Spaeth

When introducing myself, I speak of my faith at the core of my being. Guiding my decisions in life along my path. To some Faith is set above and apart from their daily life, something relegated to Sunday and holidays. My faith is integrated into who and what I am. It directs what I do and where I go in life. It is a way of life. I do not compartmentalize my faith. Our society today stresses compartmentalization keeping different parts of our lives separate from each other so that we might better focus our attention on what is in front of us. It is this compartmentalization that I feel is hurting more than helping which leaves us feeling fractured and paralyzed, the very state from which you are influenced and controlled. An immersive strategy and approach are more natural for the human condition. We do not exist, outside of our environment; social, natural, emotional nor economic. We exist in all of these, at the same time, as human beings. An example: when attempting to learn a new language the best strategy is immersive. Existing in the culture of the language you wish to learn. We must see ourselves as one with and not separate and apart from society. Headlines are screaming at us lately about critical issues that challenge us to respond in meaningful ways on issues that have persisted for centuries and yet they must be addressed to avoid losing what we value most in our country, our freedom, will be forever torn from our grasp. Racism and wealth inequality and income disparity all intertwined rise up and threaten the very foundation of our democracy. People scream and rage at their government, as a monolith without mind form nor structure. Their minds cannot focus on any particulars, as they are raging at the monolith of disparity. From the origins of our nation, the structures of government have been left to be dominated by those with wealth and power because somehow they must be knowledgeable. All the while implementing protections for themselves and subjugating working men and women, who are the real creators of wealth. Many in life use words without understanding their implications and affectation. They rage, “The government discriminates against people of color and the poor!” not understanding that the very government being raged against is composed of you and me and them. We the people are the government and the government we have exists because of us. The basis of the concept of a government of, by, and for, the people demands an involved citizenry immersed in all its functions. Not that the inequality does not exist, but the very nature of our government is not understood by the vast majority of Americans. They relish the admiration of the world but not the very hard work and effort necessary for all of this to come together in a way that will benefit all its citizens. Many leave the work of government to others and too often that equates to ceding more power to those who already have power. When violence breaks out in our cities due to outrage and abuses, the press and those within the current power structure speak of “riots” to downplay the inherent cause and legitimacy of those actions. The Press focuses on those breaking the law and taking advantage of actions taken by a community expressing their outrage over oppression. Nonviolent demonstrations are the most powerful and effective means of changing the status quo. Yet, they get ignored in favor of reporting those perpetrating the mindless violence. Peaceful protests are preferred by everyone, but as history has borne out, violence is sometimes the only language understood by those who risk losing power and authority over our citizens. Those in authority talk of law and order, and yet, law and order have not been equitable for the whole of society. The inequities of that structure are well known and still tolerated and those subjected to the inequities are just expected to accept the condition and live with it. Still, the question always arises how does this law-breaking benefit the community? How does looting the very neighborhood business that is essential for a community's existence bend history and the society towards a more equitable solution? Why does it occur? If you have an old boiler in your home and the control valve begins to fail how do you control the situation so that the crisis is resolved to the betterment of all concerned? The control valve in this case is the police in the community and the pressure being released is the frustration of the community. You cannot just release the pressure you must repair the very control valve that has failed its function in society. You have leadership at the very top of our governmental structure who has flagrantly ignored and compromised the rule of law stating that he, is in fact, the law. But the ones paying that price are always the working poor and middle class. The community must be heard and they must be included in any resolution. The words, tolerance, justice, and patience are bandied about to somehow mollify those who are expressing their anger and outrage over their community's experience of oppression, and yes it is oppression. In their community, the police behave more like an occupying force than a public service there to keep the peace. Peace is not the absence of violence it is the presence of justice. When the police can be seen as representing true justice there will be true peace. When we speak of tolerance or to be tolerant, do we even know what we are truly expressing? The very word tolerant implies one is superior over another. Would you want your spouse to tolerate your children? Or would you want the children to be relished and cherished? To tolerate someone is to say that their imperfections will not be held against them. Children's nature is to be nurtured and cherished and understood. Words must be chosen carefully. Love and compassion have no hierarchy. Justice often is translated into the justification for a lack of action to bring about a solution to the inequality that currently exists. Do not believe your eyes and what is before you but believe minutia of justification for actions that clearly violate an entire community's right to exist, their right to be human. The inequality, injustice, and inequity of our society and governmental structures need to be addressed and rectified in an inclusive and forthright manner that will guide us quickly to resolution. It will not be enough to “study” nor to “do a report” nor to form a commission consisting of those who currently have the power and authority. The very citizens of these communities must be a very critical component of our efforts to resolve the root causes of the community's anger and frustration. This inequity was written into our Constitution from the birth of America and while progress to rectify has happened it is not enough and I hope that it is not too late to get this right.