My turn, Jackie Miller: Take down ‘Fame,’ we can’t breathe

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2020

By Jackie Miller

The removal of the overt symbol of racism and white supremacy, “Fame,” is long overdue. Relocate this symbol of hate from public display. The statue needs to be removed due to the recent shooting and violence that occurred during a peaceful protest. This shooting and violence surrounding Fame has caused the city to be placed on a curfew. Leaving Fame where it is today is a safety threat to our community.

The number of police officers needed at a peaceful protest shows the extent of safety issues surrounding “Fame.” The recent throwing of rocks, the shooting of guns and the words of threats and words of willingness to kill and murder people in the city over “Fame” scream threats to our public safety. The recent racial violence and racial confrontations, not only in other cities but here in our city are threats to the safety of our children, our grandchildren, our parents, our grandparents, our families and our community. 

We asked the city council before to remove this symbol of hate and it refused. Their excuse: the law.

The law does give the right to remove a symbol if it poses a public threat to safety. “Fame” is just that. A threat to our public safety. What will it take, the lost lives of “Fame” supporters? What will it take, the lost lives of Fame non-supporters? What will it take, the community to lose homes? What will it take, for businesses to shut down? What will it take? I ask each of the city council members, how many more Sandra Blands, how many more Eric Garners, how many more Trayvon Martins, how many George Floyds, how many more Breonna Taylors, how many more Oscar Grants, how many more Freddy Grays, how many more Tamir Rices, how many more Michael Browns, how many more Christian Taylors must be lost before the council cares enough to move “Fame?” How many? How many black lives must be lost before they matter? Since slavery, black lives have never mattered. Here we are, over 400 years later in this present day and time, blacks lives still don’t matter. We can’t breathe.

Since the announcement of peaceful protesting, the threats began with statements of “We will protect “Fame” by any means necessary.” Groups formed to protect “Fame,” not the innocent lives of our citizens but “Fame,” a stone statue that sits in the middle of our town, a town of black, brown, white, Latinos, Mexicans, LGBTQ and others. A town where “Fame” only represents some and not all. A town where “Fame” has become a danger to this community for people of all races, all colors, all ages, all incomes, supporters and non-supporters.

If we are going to be a safe and forward-thinking city, this statue must be taken down from where it stands today. The threat to safety that “Fame” brings continues to be a terror leading the path to another Dylann Roof or the heartless people who murdered Emmitt Till and the heartless cop who murdered George Floyd. 

Leaving “Fame” where it stands, is placing the citizens of Salisbury in harm’s way of legalized white supremacism. Until “Fame” is removed, it stands to be a constant reminder of countless murders, hate, racism, white supremacy and a major threat to the safety of this community. 

I leave you with these words “We are no longer hanging from the trees. Yet the ropes remain around our necks.” Takedown “Fame.” We can’t breathe.

Jackie Miller lives in Salisbury.