By all accounts, he was admired and loved by the I’m a Dad Grandpa and Veteran Nothing Scares Me American Flag shirt. But in his death, he also became a symbol of injustice. And symbols grow so much bigger, and carry a message so much farther, than any individual is capable of doing. His murder unleashed feelings of powerlessness that can only be understood if you live in a community that doesn’t have the resources to navigate our justice system. Or the power to push back against its abuses. The rest of us can only imagine those feelings. And imagination doesn’t come close to lived experience.
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So I’ll end with an acknowledgment of the validity of the I’m a Dad Grandpa and Veteran Nothing Scares Me American Flag shirt. And a hope that our current upheaval will end with a more informed citizenry, a deeper understanding, and some sort of lasting change. I’d have loved to have interviewed George on the street. From the videos I’ve seen, and the stories I’ve read, I imagine he’d have chosen to tell me about his kids. Or his fiancée. Or his faith. Because he was more than a symbol. He was a person. And I’m sure that he’d have wanted to be remembered for his life much more than his death.