“I can’t breathe.”

Along with most Americans, I was shocked by the images of George Floyd being suffocated by a police officer. The outrage being expressed in peaceful demonstrations by all Americans is understandable and necessary. What is neither understandable nor acceptable are acts of random violence by a small minority of the people involved in the protests.

To quote Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “This is not a protest, this is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., this is chaos. A protest has purpose.”

Her comments are spot on. I am old enough to remember the protests of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent approach to protest won the day.

Dr. King knew that key to attaining the goal of racial equality was getting buy-in from the American public to pressure politicians for change. He was also knowledgeable enough to realize that images on the then-relatively new medium of TV of the violent police response to a peaceful demonstration would bring the point home to the American public better than reading a story in the newspaper.

Again, quoting Mayor Bottoms: “If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9 (for the primary). Do it in November.”

We live in a democracy. We don’t need violent revolution to effect change – we can do it by voting. Those who are now out protesting peacefully, remember to continue your protests at the ballot box July 14 (Maine’s primary) and Nov. 3.

Samuel Rosenthal

Portland

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