June 8, 2020

The national conversation has changed. This week we have seen people all over the country marching for an end to racial injustice. It was startling to see people protesting in the streets after three months of lockdown. It’s not what we expected. Yes, there is a pandemic, but there is also a Bill of Rights.

To quote Article Fourteen:

” . . . nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So I take hope from headlines like “Cities across US announce police reform,” which describe upcoming reviews of police department scope and practices in Minneapolis, New York City, Seattle, Sacramento, and New Jersey.

This week’s protests were the biggest of the pandemic, but they aren’t the first. Back in mid-April people gathered throughout the country to protest the lockdown orders themselves, orders which abruptly closed businesses, beaches, and parks. A few weeks ago churches were challenging the right of government to keep them closed while other public spaces were opening up.

But what about the pandemic? Coronavirus is still here. We are still under a state of emergency, declared by California’s governor on March 4 and by the President of the United States on March 13. The closing of all but “essential” businesses and the orders to stay home were open-ended. It’s been three months. We still don’t have an effective treatment or vaccine, but we all have some experience in managing exposure by this time. Businesses are opening up carefully. I think people have been incredibly patient, but one effect of the protests is to open things up faster. And that’s good.

If a state of emergency requires us to surrender our First Amendment rights, then we have more to fear than a virus. As the Fourth of July approaches, it’s good to know that the Bill of Rights is alive and well in America.

Article I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Mourners gather to honor George Floyd as push to reform U.S. police intensifies,” Reuters, June 7, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests/mourners-gather-to-honor-george-floyd-as-push-to-reform-u-s-police-intensifies-idUSKBN23F0L1

“Cities across US announce police reform following mass protests against brutality: New York and Seattle leaders say they will divert police funding,” ABC News, June 8, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/cities-us-announce-police-reform-mass-protests-brutality/story?id=71130499

“Thousands of Michiganders took to the streets to protest the governor’s stay-at-home order,” Vox, April 16, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/4/16/21222471/michigan-protests-coronavirus-stay-at-home-extension

“Into Religious Freedom During a Pandemic: The courts weigh complicated questions about the First Amendment and public health,” NBC News, June 7, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/podcast/into-america/religious-freedom-during-pandemic-n1225791

“It’s Official: U.S. Economy Is In A Recession,” NPR, June 8, 2020. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/06/08/872336272/its-official-scorekeepers-say-u-s-economy-is-in-a-recession

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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