I am outraged and I am terrified.
I am outraged by the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and so many other black American citizens.
We live under a corrupt system of justice and law enforcement. Change needs to happen. Black voices need to be heard.
Police officers need to understand that my skin color does not define who I am, that black people are humans, just like everyone else. Being black is not a threat. In just the same way, being a police officer should not be a threat.
Officers should be better trained to do their work with humanity, not brutality. We know that the frequency of incidents of police brutality is much too high. That has to change. Black people shouldn’t have to worry that they will be the next victim. We shouldn’t have to worry about being framed for a crime we never committed. My little brother shouldn’t have to be afraid.
I have lived in Wellfleet since I was five years old, and I have no complaint against the Wellfleet Police Dept. or against any Cape Cod police officer. And yet, even though I live in a town that seems so safe to you, I am still terrified.
The reason for my terror is what I see on Instagram and TikTok, where people have been circulating messages that disgust me. Some mock the death of George Floyd, saying, “He deserved it.” It’s not clear who is responsible for these posts, but some of them have gone viral on social media. My friends and I have all seen them.
Police brutality isn’t being taken seriously enough. People need to be educated about it, especially the young. We are the future. People should be more concerned about innocent lives being lost than they are about property damage. You can fix property, but you can’t bring back a life.
America needs to wake up. Police officers who commit crimes need to be held accountable. They should face the same consequences that other citizens would face if we broke the law.
People need to fight for what’s right and not just make token gestures. Sharing a black screen on Instagram isn’t good enough. Staying silent during a time like this isn’t going to fix anything. We must march, donate to organizations, stand up for political candidates who will change a corrupt system, and make our voices heard.
We will not forget George Floyd and all the others who have lost their lives in this struggle.
Janae Tompkins of Wellfleet is a sophomore at Nauset Regional High School.