DEMONSTRATION: to make a public exhibition of group feelings

Last Friday night, about 100 people gathered on the corners of Union Street and Grand View Parkway in Traverse City to stand together and to wave, hold signs, and shout out as thousands of cars passed by.20141205-corner_scene_small_file 20141205-Streetside_small_filePeople of different ages and different circumstances. People of different colors. They did not all know each other, but shared some sense of outrage that required expression.

Their signs
declared agreement with demonstrators in many other cities across our land:  something is very wrong in community policing. There is no moral explanation for the death of so many black people at the hands of police.20141205_one_person_small_file The guns and brutality of force so heavily focused on minorities, demands redress. The racism and bigotry that drive these monstrous acts must be excised and healed.

The truth is, demonstrations are 20141205_street_scene_2_small_fileuncomfortable. We are mostly quiet and polite here in northwest Lower Michigan; conservative in most things. And we are mostly white. To stand up and shout or march with strangers in a declaration of common cause with all minorities is something truly rare in Traverse City.

But on that night, in that place, a determined and very diverse group of residents took a risk and raised their public voices. They did not join the throngs of shoppers around a Christmas tree. They stood apart, bearing witness to our shared humanity. They reminded us that when one person is oppressed, we are all oppressed. If justice is not shared equally, there can 20141205_Front_Street_small_filebe no justice.

On that Friday night, because of that group, Traverse City expressed the real spirit of the season: compassion. For a time, our community seemed more connected to a national discussion and just a little more diverse.