A message came from a reader whose current priority is the Derek Chauvin trial: "I know you don't have a lot of room, but can you put stories on your website about the case of that cop in Minnesota who killed George Floyd? Because I can't watch the trial, as I have to work."
The answer is yes. Although the Daily Press is a hyper-local community newspaper, some stories are so important to who we Americans are as a people, and who we want to be, that all media have an imperative to keep up with them. The best way to do this is by offering regular updates on the websites - but in the case of the Floyd tragedy and others, just having them there isn't enough. We are trying to put trial coverage updates in front of our paywall by "breaking" the stories - and we will be pushing notices through email blasts so readers can immediately retrieve them on their desktops, smartphones or whatever devices they have handy.
We won't be linking them to our Facebook page, because we've found from experience that "trolls" cause problems with national issues, especially those political in nature, by demeaning any story that doesn't conform to their personal set of likes and dislikes, and attacking those who express opinions different from their own. It will come as no surprise that these negative, unhappy and generally uninformed people are rarely newspaper readers, nor will they ever be. But their verbal assaults on others who do wish to be consumers of legitimate information has required media everywhere to come up with innovative ways to deal with them - and generally, that is to ignore them.
The death of George Floyd cannot be ignored, however, nor should it be. His death, which unquestionably came at the hands of a police officer, was the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement. There could have been other examples, which have steadily unfolded over the years - but this tragedy was seen as among the most egregious. There were too many witnesses, too many people who wanted to help but were prevented from doing so by the police officers present - and too much apathy.
The horrifying actions of Chauvin and others also lit the fuse on the call to defund police. That, in turn, ignited the Blue Lives Matter movement, but as we've all seen, some of those who claimed to support the police had no trouble trying to kill them at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. And anyone who's been paying attention - who has seen the videos circulated across the globe - will also know what prompted that act of domestic terrorism.
All Cherokee County residents must learn, with their fellow Oklahomans and Americans, to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have been targets of aggressive campaigns of hate - often at the hands of those whom they are supposed to trust. And as we try on those shoes, we must also acknowledge our own ignorance and shortcomings, and must pledge to do better, going forward. We must insist that all human beings be treated with dignity and respect, even those who don't look like us or agree with us.
Many of us still need a change of heart, and a groundswell of empathy for others. To refuse that imperative and call for unity is to reject the essence of humanity. We cannot forget George Floyd, and although we must give Chauvin a fair trial, we cannot forget what he did and the high cost of his actions for the law enforcement community and this nation as a whole. There are bad cops, just as in every other profession - and they need to be drummed out everywhere they lurk.