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Letter: Without justice for all, flag is an empty symbol

Without justice for all, flag is an empty symbol

I am an African-American and a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts. I want to say that I am not the least bit offended by the NFL players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. In fact, I am proud of them.

What offends me are the killings of unarmed black men in this country by white police officers. The final stanza of the national anthem includes the words, “land of the free and the home of the brave.” And the flag promises “liberty and justice for all.”

Where was the freedom for Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, shot five times in the back in North Charleston, S.C.? Or the freedom for Philando Castile, who was killed in Minnesota in 2016 after complying with the officer’s commands? Or for Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a New York City police officer on Staten Island, in violation of his own department’s code of conduct? These are merely a few of many examples.

If these men were guilty of a crime, they had a right to be judged by a jury of their peers. They were systematically denied this constitutional prerogative. And these atrocities will continue as long as judges and juries lack the courage to punish police officers for this kind of lawlessness. This is certainly not what I fought for in Vietnam.

Without the freedom and justice implicit in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the flag is merely an empty symbol of something that doesn’t exist.

Tommie E. Blunt

Buffalo

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