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A Reflection from Sr. Ceil Lavan, OP

Like the rest of our country, we are distressed and saddened by the violent assault which resulted in the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

We are grateful to Sr. Ceil Lavan who shared her reflections after participating in a peaceful demonstration on May 29th. Her words echo what is in our hearts.

"Yesterday I had a surprising new experience. I participated in a vigil for George Floyd in White Plains, which was organized by the Westchester People’s Action Coalition. George Floyd is the man who was killed by the police in Minnesota on Monday, by an officer’s knee pressed into his neck.

Sr. Ceil Lavan, OP
Sr. Ceil Lavan, OP

Over the years I’ve participated in and organized too many political demonstrations to count. Years ago, when NoWarWestchester demonstrated against the U.S. attack on Iraq, people driving by gave us the finger, told us to get a life, and you can imagine what else they yelled at us. Eventually, as it became clear to more people that we were lied to about the causes of the war on Iraq, our protest did get some support from passersby. Political demonstrations typically get little support from the public. Part of their function is to wake people up.

Yesterday 300 people rallied at the fountain in White Plains, wearing masks and keeping social distance as best we could. That turn-out itself was a surprise. What was even more surprising was the amount of support from the cars driving by. Horns continually honked in support of our action and several times it was a cacophony of many vehicle horns blaring at the same time, with drivers and passengers giving us the thumps up. I have never before experienced so much approval of a vigil for justice.

The people are angry.

And folks across the country, especially young people, are expressing their anger by the tens of thousands. And I'm sure you've noticed there are as many white protesters as African Americans and other people of color. While the vast majority of the protesters are peaceful, it’s hard to watch how the behavior of some of them could cause them injury or even death, but it’s clear they are all outraged.

Maybe we’re at a tipping point, a moment of transformation, a shift in consciousness that can move us beyond white supremacy and all the “isms“ that dominate our lives - to a place of justice, equality, and love for all.

Officer Derek Chauvin brutally and illegally kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes, with absolutely no concern for the man pleading for his life, saying “I can’t breathe.” Even when the bystanders begged the cops to let George get up, that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin's knee remained on George’s neck almost 3 minutes after he had no pulse.

The fact that the four officers involved were immediately fired, and that the actual killer has been charged and arrested is movement in the right direction. Of course, the other three officers need to be arrested as well, and we know that historically the courts have favored the white perpetrators of racist violence. But I’m hoping this is the moment of transformation - the tipping point - that brings about systemic change making life better for us all.  Let’s hope so."

-Sr. Ceil Lavan, OP


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