Early Halloween morning, a Forest Grove family awoke to a man terrorizing their home. It started with a car alarm, a man smashing their Halloween decorations and other pieces of property in a drunken rage. When Mirella Castaneda, the homeowner, opened her front door to confront him, the man charged. Castaneda closed the door, locked it, but the man kept screaming, banging on the door. She didn’t know why her home was being targeted, but she believed it was because of the Black Lives Matter flag displayed on her garage.
The man terrorizing the family was a Forest Grove police officer.
It’s a sad world we live in when this is not so much a surprise to us anymore. In fact, it seems perfectly in line with the sort of blatant, racist violence we’ve seen time and time again this year. Recently, in Lake Oswego, an unidentified suspect left severed deer heads in the yards of people with Black Lives Matter and Biden/Harris signs. Police have continued to reign violence upon those protesting against systemic racism in the streets of Portland, but have not batted an eye to the armed Trump supporters standing outside the capitol in Salem, Ore., threatening people who didn’t vote their way. And their blatant racism and far-right support has become synonymous with the black and blue striped flag, a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement. “All lives matter,” they scream. “Blue lives matter.”
None of this is new. Systemic racism and police violence have been a part of this country for centuries, but the deep division that has been stoked and fueled by Donald Trump in the past four years has only made the violence stronger. It inspired those who would usually remain reserved, keeping their racism and violence inside, and gave them a free pass to express it as loudly as the President himself. It has deepened the division of this nation. And though Trump’s reign may have come to an end, the violence he has unleashed has not.
No matter the circumstances, there is no excuse for police violence. It doesn’t matter if he was drunk, if he “felt threatened,” or if he was “addressing a personal issue,” violence is violence. And racism is racism. And just because Biden and Harris won the election (yes, they won, despite what Trump says), it doesn’t mean that the violence we’ve seen this year–for the past four years, for the past century, since this nation’s existence–will go away with Donald Trump. Trump has unleashed something that can’t so easily be put back. And if we truly want to see it gone, we’re going to have to continue to fight, no matter who’s in the White House.
So when Biden takes the presidential seat, do not stop the fight. Because if we let our guard down now, this will continue to happen. The end of Trump’s presidency is certainly progress, but the voice of the people must not be forgotten, and the language of protest is still the strongest voice there is. So as long as this division and violence exist, we must continue to use it. Our country depends on it. — Bren Swogger