PREFACE: I am a white journalist. I will never know what it is to be black in America. I cannot effectively speak on the current issues our country is facing. No one cares what I have to say. But I can use my platform to prop up those who are fighting for their rights.
The world doesn’t need white men writing op-eds. The world needs leadership. The world needs to see and hear the masses that are taking to the streets in protest.
Journalism is unbiased, and should never take sides. But when the sides are “for” and “against” racism and police brutality, there is only one valid side.
JONESBORO, Ark. — On Sunday, May 31 and Monday, June 1, residents of Jonesboro took to the streets to peacefully protest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
It didn’t take long for things to get ugly, but not in the way some might expect. A man not associated with the protest drove his vehicle down the street protesters were occupying (Caraway Road), got out of his black SUV, and pointed a gun at the crowd. He then got back in his vehicle and fled the scene.
In the aftermath, 32-year-old John Bosze was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault. As of this writing, he is free on a $25,000 bond and will make his first appearance in district court on Wednesday.
NOTE: In an earlier version of this story, it was unintentionally omitted that the suspect was not arrested at the scene, but hours later once protestors submitted official police reports with video evidence. The earlier version read as if he was apprehended at the scene immediately after the incident occurred, which was not the case.
Protestors met the physical threat of violence with courage. The Jonesboro March for Justice didn’t end when lives were threatened. Instead, it continued on throughout the afternoon and evening.
That wasn’t the end of violent threats, however. Later, the owner of the Holiday Liquor Store in Paragould took to Facebook to voice his thoughts on the peaceful protests. He said the protestors should be shot with “gas or rubber bullets” before declaring “no gas, just start killing” and “run them over.”
This instance of inciting violence online surely was not the only one, either.
The fact that these incidents occurred highlights the need for change both in Jonesboro and across the country. Threatening the lives of peaceful protestors is unacceptable. The right to peacefully protest is one of the founding pillars of the American experiment.
Through it all, the protestors never turned violent. Sure, a water bottle was thrown at a vehicle driven by someone that was shouting racial slurs. Some harsh, adult language was used. Traffic was held up on some of the busiest streets in the city. But the overall message of a peaceful, Constitutional protest stayed in tact over the course of two days.
Men, women, and children of all races stood together in unity and marched the streets of Jonesboro, begging for their voices to be heard. They never let the threat of outside violence deter their spirit.
The First Amendment and its guarantee of freedom of speech and assembly was used to inspire change and raise awareness, as the authors of the Constitution intended.
Citizens of Jonesboro and greater Northeast Arkansas took a stand, much like millions across the country. They want to be seen and heard. So here they are: