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‘Person of worth’ lost his life, too

The May 26 front-page editorial asked, “Is it possible to honor both fallen Champaign police Officer Christopher Oberheim and George Floyd?”

Anyone familiar with the nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd will recall the chant, “Say his name — George Floyd. Say her name — Breonna Taylor,” sometimes inserting the names of so many other slain people of color.

It was a call to recognize their humanity, the fact that they were real people. They were somebody — as Jesse Jackson would say — somebody with a family, with a life, somebody who mattered. But, as you acknowledged, for many, “it was too easy to see Mr. Floyd as just another petty criminal whose life had little value.” And you go on to aspire to the notion that “Black lives do matter.”

And yet, in five days of extensive front-page coverage about the tragic loss of Champaign police Officer Chris Oberheim, all we learned about Darion Lafayette — the alleged shooter, who also died in this incident — was an initial review of his rap sheet and the fact that he was a father, son, brother and uncle.

People don’t have to wait for a final police report to humanize him by hearing from family and friends and treating him as a person of worth.

Instead, even his name got mentioned less and less as though he was being erased. The contrast is glaring until in this edition, The News-Gazette did not mention his name even once.

Somebody has to say it and mean it: Darion Lafayette, a person of worth, also died. Black lives matter, too!

DAVE JACKSON

Champaign

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