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Protesters held up signs such as "stop the hate" and "Black Lives Matter" earlier this month.

While Tehachapi may be a conservative oasis for the older generation of Boomers, change does not shy away from even the most remote of communities. While everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, let us make an effort to educate. It is beyond a generalization to say that the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement are only about the killing of one man, George Floyd. These protests cover a wide array of issues addressing the systemic racism found within nearly every institution of the U.S., especially law enforcement.

While you may have an opinion of whether such things even exist, take the time to learn the facts and at the minimum acknowledge the struggles facing minorities in this country. To say that these problems and these protests are some sort of “big-city” invasion into the community is dismissive of the fact that those young folks protesting are not only about to make up the biggest voting demographic in the country, but are a vital part of your community regardless.

I would also take caution in demonizing those same people for protesting, considering they are exercising their First Amendment constitutional freedom. This same freedom comes from our Bill of Rights, which also includes the Second Amendment. To question the integrity of one right is to question the integrity of them all.

When we look back at history, especially during the activism that flooded the 1960s, the country has learned that some problems so immense that are ignored at the highest levels must be addressed on the streets and with a strong voice. While those protesting are expressing their concern with these pervasive issues using facts, statistics, and video evidence to reveal the looming remainder of racism in this country, the opposition to this movement simply gaslights with the same empty words used by the president when confronted with the facts, deeming them as “fake news.”

If only this news were fake. If only police brutality was just some hoax. If only racism did die with the Civil Rights movement. If only these issues were untrue, then the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others would still be whole.

It is time for citizens from all walks of life and all parts of the country, including conservative regions like Tehachapi, to pull their head out of the sand and face the reality. We live in a country that is rapidly losing its credibility on the global stage, lacking leadership, facing a pandemic that is ravaging its people, and that is coming face-to-face with a police state unapologetically killing and abusing the very people it serves to protect.

I admire the bravery it takes to use your voice for the sake of your fellow man’s well-being and liberties. This is what those young people on the corner are expressing. They have not rioted nor have they done anything illegal or morally reprehensible, so please take the time to educate yourself before dismissing them as “vagrants,” “chest-thumpers” or “screamers.”

Matthew Rails, Tehachapi

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