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'Something is not right.' George Floyd protests push white Americans to think about their privilege

Tyrone Beason, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"It's not right versus left," he said. "It's right versus wrong."

Sexton said he wasn't oblivious to racial discrimination. Every Black person he knows has shared stories of being followed and stopped for no reason by police.

But the video of Floyd's killing, which captured him crying out "I can't breathe" and calling out for his dead mother, made Sexton realize the powerlessness and sheer panic that Black people often experience in the presence of officers.

He said it's crazy that it took so long for him and other white people to fully grasp that horror of police brutality, "but for us, we wouldn't have understood were it not for the video."

"Now," he said, "we're listening."

Sexton, a salesman, recently organized a rally for police accountability in a high school parking lot near where he lives in Grapevine, Texas. It drew about 200 demonstrators, most of them white.

 

Members of the clergy and Grapevine Police Chief Mike Hamlin attended. One of the speakers was a Trump supporter.

A Black teen told the crowd that she was afraid to bring children into the world because she feared she wouldn't be able to protect them from law enforcement or the country's racism.

"That broke my heart into a thousand pieces," Sexton said.

After weeks of protest, opinions about police violence appear to be shifting, but there's still a large gap between white and Black people about whether it represents a national crisis.

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