Dog Park Discussions: Civil Unrest
Editor’s Note: Braving the risk of COVID-19 (both the real risk and that conjured in my mind), and armed with a mask my wife sewed me, a recorder, and a camera, along with our little dog Chance, I went to the dog park for the first time in over three months and talked to some fellow residents about their perspectives on the current civil unrest taking place in the United States. Chance and I spent part of the afternoon at both Bell Branch Dog Park in Gambrills and Quiet Waters Dog Park in Annapolis. It was a comfortable, sunny late spring day, and their were few patrons of the parks at that point, but I managed to talk to two. We also visited Meade Village in Severn, a predominantly African American community. But no one there agreed to comment on the record. I talked to some children, a couple sitting on a porch declined to be interviewed, and the two other people who were out were engrossed in cell-phone conversations. The article below is a composite of these two neighbors perspectives on the current unrest taking place in America after the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, by white police officers in Minneapolis on May 25. Both residents agreed on two things—this was a highly stressful time for them, and that things needed to change in the United States. Brie Carr is a 32-year-old resident of Pasadena. A married mom with young children, she was giving her Cocker Spaniel-Poodle mix some off-leash time at Quiet Waters Dog Park. She said she wants justice for George Floyd. She also said the vandalism, arson and looting that has taken place in many cities was futile and wouldn’t change anything. “It's just heart breaking to see all the destruction of the cities,” she said. “Destroying property and defacing property is not gonna change anything. But I do want some justice for the black community. They absolutely deserve it. It's It's been a long time coming.” “There's just been so many cases after case after case of these black individuals just being completely mistreated, she said. “Cops going above the law and taking matters into their own hands, and doing actions that they weren't even trained on. Like, they've never been trained to put their knee on someone's neck and cut off their breathing for eight, nine, ten minutes.” Both residents said the civil unrest, on top of the COVID-19 emergency, has had an emotional impact on them. Bobby Garrant, 38, of Glenn Burnie had brought his dog, Willow, to Bell Branch Dog Park in Gambrills. Garrant said he hadn’t been out in public since March. He declined to have a photo taken, but did offer his pet for a profile image. “It’s super stressful,” he said “I don't want to watch the news because it's giving me anxiety and yeah, certainly affected me emotionally,” Carr said. Carr said that she had felt a little threatened by the unrest, but that being outside and interacting a little bit more had helped calm her nerves. “It's still peaceful in our boundaries,” she said. Garrant, a teacher, said he empathizes with those who are protesting.
“I think it's an issue that we just need to address as a nation,” he said. “I understand it. I understand why people are so upset, and I understand the, you know, the protests and everything else. Yeah. I mean, it's unfortunate that it's come to this, but something needs to change.” Both residents disapproved of some of the governments’ handling of both the protests and civil disturbances. Carr, a transplant from the West with both roots in Utah and Montana said she wanted to protest herself, but was putting it off because of safety concerns. “I think they're being too forceful with the people who are wanting to protest peacefully, trying to enforce curfews,” she said. “I don't think is necessary. I mean, people are going to go out and do what they want to do regardless of a curfew. “And I think we've been held down so long over the last few months in our homes . with the virus, people are just done. Especially after seeing the way that George Floyd was treated and murdered. I think, People are like 'You what enough's enough. We're going to speak out and we want something to change." Regarding government handling of the civil unrest, Garrant said he hadn’t taken a close look at how different jurisdictions had handled the unrest, but he had a definite perspective on his take on the executive occupying The White House. “I think certain ones are doing better jobs than others,” he said of state and local governments. “I honestly don't haven't been looking into it completely. I have no faith in the federal government at this time, or in the president—zero faith.” Both Carr and Garrant said they were investing hopes in a better future in separate strategies. Garrant was hoping the presidential elections in November would bring a change, while Carr was getting back to basics and working harder to teach her kids the basics of human kindness. “Hopefully, we have somebody new in November,” Garrant said. “And then we can actually talk about where we might go. Because right now I think it's, I don't think anybody knows. And I think that's the scary thing.” “Something definitely needs to change, Carr said. “It starts at home, teaching our children. I had such a heavy heart with everything that's happening right now. You know what? We are all God's children. And we need to love. It doesn't matter what your skin color is you treat everyone with love, kindness, respect. Yeah. And it needs to stop, the racism needs to stop.”