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Steps

June 6, 2020

Demonstrations and protests are going on all over the nation this weekend, as they have been for 10 days or so. They started ten days ago in fury and anger which lead to violence and unrest, which then morphed into big time looting and property destruction. In the last week or so, they’ve shifted to become huge gatherings that are still angry but not violent and lawless.  The looters are largely gone, and remaining are huge, diverse, mostly young crowds serious about the direction our country needs to go if we’re ever going to achieve justice. The history books will have all the stats, but, anecdotally, I’m hearing that these are some of, if not the largest collection of demonstrations this country has ever seen (never mind the fact they’ve spread internationally to some of the world’s largest cities).

Washington, D.C. has become one of the epicenters, in particular the area just North of the White House (and just beyond Lafayette Park, since they’ve close that to the public). Almost a week ago, this was the site of numerous security and military forces unleashing flash grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas upon peaceful protesters (I wrote about that here: https://lifeofwry.com/2020/06/01/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/). Since, thousands of protesters have gathered each day and into each night in that same spot.. in front of St. John’s Episcopal church, just beyond new iron fences erected by Trump’s people in order to keep him safe (presumably).

Yesterday, a fabulous thing happened. D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, painted gigantic yellow letters spelling out Black Lives Matter over a two block area and NAMED the intersection of 16th and H Streets Black Lives Matter Plaza.

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Trolling the troller-in-chief. Masterful. And yet, also about the most perfect way to honor and validate an important movement. Big hat tip to Mayor Bowser.

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Darlene and I decided it’d be worthwhile to participate, in solidarity, in a demonstration in Davis this afternoon.  I made a few signs and when Darlene, her nephew Andy and his friend Oscar showed up, we headed right over to Central Park. There were a few folks hanging out, but no protest, no demonstration. We did spend some time wandering around a makeshift memorial which is impressive and moving:

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Talked with a few other confused people with signs, and best we could figure we had the wrong place. So we decided to walk up to Community Park. They’d indeed assembled there, but had already left the park as we were approaching, but no idea what their route was. Long story short, after some more meandering about, we spotted them way down 5th Street, clearly on their way to the Police Station.

Darlene and I headed back to our house, got her car, then made our way to the PD.

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We got there in time for the 8:42 minute moment of silence. Quite an emotional experience. And longer than you imagine 9 minutes to be. For everyone who’s participated in this 8:42 minutes of silence in a public setting, it’s something to experience and gets right at the horror that transpired that day.

I’m not sure how what kind of organization went into the event, but it was reasonably well attended (hundreds).

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They had a bullhorn available for folks to share thoughts:

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And just a small cluster of police officers (that I noticed) letting things happen as they would. I think that’s police chief Pytel on the far left.

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At one point a guy shouted out a memory to Natalie Corona, the young police officer killed a year and a half ago, then punctuated that with a loud, angry “Blue Lives Matter,” which stirred the crowd, not in a good way. A woman yelled out “fuck you,” which started a lot more stirring, at which point Darlene bolted from our location and seconds later was in this young woman’s face, arms in a full spread eagle, keeping her from advancing on the man who yelled. She did not like this one bit and tried to get Darlene to back off. One police officer guided the Blue Lives Matter guy out of the crowd, and Darlene came back to our spot.

The woman went on for a full 5 minutes screaming at the other two officers and railing about police brutality and departments in general. People were largely in support of her sentiments, if perhaps uncomfortable with her confronting the un-uniformed cops standing quietly off to the side. I felt squirmy, anyway.  Soon thereafter, things broke up.

I’m in total agreement that there are fundamental, systemic issues with policing that need addressing NOW. They’re old issues, in an entrenched culture and I’m glad it’s all finally coming to a head in a mainstream way. I have some hope that we’ll see some movement. Not under Trump, per se, but the wheels are finally turning, enough people are aware and making the right noises, and we’re not going to move forward without change.  The NFL, of all organizations, just admitted they were wrong to silence player protests against police brutality. That’s some uber mainstream movement in the right direction.

There is a lot of light shining on some pretty horrific police practices. Nobody will be able to look away anymore.

Hopeful.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “Steps”

  1. Elliot Margolies Says:

    Glad you and Darlene found it. Sally and I attended a very large demonstration at City Hall in Palo Alto spilling into streets surrounding the plaza. Some great speakers including 3 mayors and Congresswoman Eshoo and a friend, LaDoris Cordell (though hard to hear) and then a march. I’m going to put together a town meeting on Zoom for the Media Center but it won’t have that kind of visceral energy.

  2. Vicki Crescitelli Says:

    I got teary early this morning reading accounts of police brutality and racism and then got teary again (just now) reading your blog (this time tears of hope, however.).Thanks for sharing.

    • Kari Says:

      I’m fearful of short attention spans and the tendency for people to move on to the next thing. It feels like there’s energy and staying power, but I’ve thought that before. Let’s hope the momentum keeps up.


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