Get Up, Get Out, Get Something
The last few weeks have been a range of emotions to say the least. Despite the fact that we’re still in a pandemic thanks to COVID-19, we now find ourselves yet again (although it has never fully stopped) in a war against racism. With the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and then George Floyd, we the people say, “Enough!” The televised murder of George Floyd and the refusal to arrest all officers involved sparked a fire that spread worldwide. I had gotten used to being in quarantine and not going out unless I had to. Protests, riots and looting began to erupt around multiple cities and towns to the point that a curfew was issued and enforcement (the national guard) was being brought in.
That weekend a friend and I hit the streets in protest. We ran across different protests throughout the day and even came across 1 in cars which led a procession throughout DC. On Monday, June 1st I happened to be at my aunt’s house where I caught the news, peaceful protestors had been forcefully moved by the use of tear gas and rubber bullets all so Trump could walk over to a church for a photo op while holding a bible backwards and upside down (mind you this happened well before curfew even began). I couldn’t believe what I just saw, the rights of protestors violated live on tv. I was furious! Although I had planned to go out and protest the injustices facing us now I was more determined than ever to get out in those streets.
That night as I lay in bed on Twitter I come across this story. Many protestors were out past curfew and were being surrounded over near Swann St in NW, DC. A man opened his door and told protestors to hurry inside. I don’t remember how many of them made it but I followed their story on Twitter until about 4am (the curfew was over at 6am). With many protestors getting arrested and armed guards trying to gain access inside I was disgusted.
The next day I was out there right in front of the White House daring that they try that tactic again. By now there was a taller gate separating the military, park and secret service police from protestors. The curfew was still in effect but I decided that I was going to break it every night for I felt it to be illegal. You cannot limit my rights with a curfew when I’m peacefulluly protesting so I said, “Fuck your curfew.” DC police were out there with us off to the sides just to make sure things didn’t get out of control. I watched as the crowd began to disperse a bit as the time counted down to 7pm and even well past 7 and…nothing happened. No one was arrested and once we realized MPD weren’t going to do anything as long as we remained peaceful this showed me they were bluffing. I stayed out until about 9pm. I was nervous walking home alone past hundreds of guards but “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me…-Psalms 23:4 KJV”
The next day I went to the store to buy materials to make signs. I made a sign and hit the streets (many times alone) but I always ended up joining a group protesting or meeting someone else while out. Mask on and all I was out there day, afternoon, evening and night (so much for social distancing because none of that was going on). If it weren’t for COVID-19 I’m sure more people would’ve been out there with us but considering the fact that we’re still in a pandemic and under stay at home orders I was very impressed with the crowd turnout. Who did I mostly see, Millenials and Generation Z (both get a lot of flack but they led this movement). We shut down highways, marched in neighborhoods, held gatherings at landmarks and even in the pouring rain we were out there (thunderstorms and all). I’m all for inconveniencing everyone (even myself) until black lives matter. It was amazing looking around and seeing such a sense of community.
Now I’m not one to just hop on board any type of protest, I have to hear and make sure that I’m agreeing with what you’re saying. If we don’t agree I don’t follow or will excuse myself. You could tell the difference a lot of times due to age and rage as to whether or not it was your protest. I’ve taken many knees and have laid down in the streets multiple times in protest. Of course there were many other issues but this was one that took precedence over everything else. I quickly found that actively participating in these things were assisting me mentally. I always knew when reading about the Civil Rights era that I would’ve been right out there with them and now I was doing just that. There are many ways to bring about change and protesting is one of them. This was my choice of change (that and I donated money for bail and supplies for protestors (drinks and trashbags)).
These last few weeks we’ve seen the world come together in unison with us as we fight against racism sparking the largest civil rights movement ever. 2020 will be quite a year for the history books and we still have half of the year ahead of us. I don’t necessarily know what the future holds but I do feel as though we are on the brink of changing the world for the better. I’ve been thinking that civil rights might be a new career focus as entertainment will take some time to appropiately come back. I have to admit though I didn’t think you’d be able to get a crowd of people together during this time but with a justified cause the people have shown up.
I’ve had some very emotional moments while out protesting from being overwhelmed with sadness, smiling as people honk in solidarity and even pull over to offer protestors food and drinks, restaurants and companies coming out to feed protestors, the large amount of donations of drinks, snacks, toiltries, sanitizer, gloves, masks, ponchos and etc. I’ve seen some heated arguments and many laughs along the way. We’ve danced and have had a willingness to listen. Black Lives Matter Plaza is the new spot that I don’t think the city will ever get back. Splattered in big yellow letters it reads both “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police”. It now encompasses vendors grilling, selling apparel catered to the black lives matter movement, ice cream carts, free food/snack tents, a medical area and food trucks stretched along the side streets. Oh and you can’t forget the beautiful signs that once aligned the gates in front of the White House that are now posted up on a side covered walkway. I’ve seen some amazing signs and have coincidently ran into many people I’ve known out there. From Moechella to Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter Plaza is a new pivotal point in our city.
I will still be out in the streets for it took me a moment to find out what defund the police meant but I do think that needs to happen and we still need the murderers of Breonna Taylor to be arrested (amongst other things). The fight is not over and a lot of companies claiming to stand in soladarity with us need to back it up within the company and systems themselves; don’t do it just for show because we plan to hold you accountable. I could go on and on but you would be reading forever. I will continue to do my part and educate myself and do your part as well. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. I am an advocate for fairness and respect and I will always fight for these things in which I deserve, for which we all deserve.