Today’s edition of “Feel Good Friday” involves the actions of U.S. Marine veteran Todd Winn in response to the social unrest that continues to happen today. In a striking silent protest, Mr. Winn stood in full uniform outside of the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 5 for three hours, in the heat, with tape over his mouth. A message was written on the black tape that covered his lips: "I can't breathe." Those were the words George Floyd pleaded as a Minneapolis police officer kept a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes, leading to Floyd's death last month. The incident, which was caught on video, sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
Mr. Winn said he taped his mouth to silence the voice he has as a veteran — one he says is a privileged voice — in hopes to magnify the voices of so many others speaking out against police brutality. As he stood in the sweltering heat, he held a sign that read, "Justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and countless others." As the temperature reached the upper 90s in Salt Lake City, photos show Mr. Winn's shoes starting to melt in the heat.
Mr. Winn, who is originally from Kansas, said he dreamed of being a Marine since he was a little kid. The 9/11 attacks, which happened during his senior year of high school, solidified his decision to join the service. "Frankly, I loved being a Marine," he said. "The camaraderie, the brotherhood, it's a connection that unless you've experienced, you can't really understand.". Mr. Winn said his time with the Marines opened his eyes, and he was able to let go of what he called the "small-minded ideas" he grew up with.
"You know, until I left home and joined the Marine Corps, I didn't really understand that that was wrong. Until I served with men whose skin was a different color than mine, who were the finest men that I've ever known, help me to learn that really we're all the same," Mr. Winn said.
His protest has received criticism from some fellow veterans and strangers online. He said he agrees that military personnel should not protest or take sides on political issues, but he sees this as a human issue, not a political one. "Really, all I have to say to my fellow Marines and veterans is you're right. What I did in a prescriptive sense was wrong. But I believe that morally and ethically it was the right decision to make," he said.
Winn said he has no ill will towards the police, but is advocating for improvements in the way they handle escalation of force, tactics training and procedure. He recounted the oath he took the day he was sworn into service. "Support and defend the Constitution," he said. "And there's no qualification on that. It's not 'until this time,' or 'only for these people.'"
Honor. Courage. Commitment. These are the Marine Corp values, and we applaud U.S. Marine veteran Todd Winn for staying true to these values. Let us all follow his model of doing the right thing for humanity and and feel good on this Friday. Stay safe!
To read the full article, visit: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/marine-veteran-i-cant-breathe-mask/
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