By Doug Porter
Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in cities all over the US. The mass media is telling people these protests are in response to recent grand jury decisions regarding the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. It’s bigger than that.
They really ought to be saying lots of people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of racism in the US of A. They’re sick and tired of hearing excuses. They’re sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens. And most of all they’re sick and tired of injustice at the hands of a legal system that claims to be color blind.
Saturday was dubbed a day of resistance against rampant police brutality against people of color, especially young black men. The failure of the legal system to deliver even a semblance of justice in recent months served to awake strong feelings, emotions that normally get pushed down amid the daily madness of just trying to get along.
The biggest demonstrations were in New York and Washington DC.
From the Guardian:
In New York, thousands marched from Washington Square Park uptown, via 6th Avenue, before turning downtown to progress along Broadway and to NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza.
Later, after darkness had fallen, protesters attempted to stop traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.
In Washington, throngs of protesters – black, white, young and old – wound their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol on a chilly December day. Among them were around 400 protesters who came by bus from Ferguson, the site of Brown’s death in August and sizeable protests since.
Near the Capitol, the veteran civil rights campaigner Reverend Al Sharpton was joined onstage by relatives of men killed by law enforcement officers.
Those represented by family members included Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old shot who was dead by a white police officer in Ferguson in August; Garner, 43, who was killed in July after a police officer on Staten Island placed him in a banned chokehold; Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot dead by police in Cleveland in November; Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old shot dead in Brooklyn last month; Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old shot dead by a neighborhood watch leader in 2012 in Florida; and Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by New York police officers in 1999.
The most militant demonstrations were in the Bay Area and and in Boston, where clashes with police took place. In Los Angeles there was a “die in” at Hollywood and Vine.
In San Diego, 300 people gathered around the fountain on the east end of Balboa Park to hear speeches. At midday they marched off towards downtown.
Given that UT-San Diego actually covered the demonstration, here’s a quote from their story:
Participants chanted “I can’t breathe” in unison and wore T-shirts that read, “Black lives matter.” At the corner of Fifth Avenue and C Street, dozens joined in a “die-in,” an 11-minute moment of silence as they lay across the trolley tracks.
“I don’t want to be complicit and part of the problem,” said participant Evan Apodaca, 30, an artist and filmmaker. “The problem is institutionalized racism, and I want to be part of the group of people that isn’t in denial of it.”
The march launched after noon from Balboa Park and wound its way through downtown. San Diego police followed the marchers and temporarily shut down roads. No one was arrested.
One thing that was obvious to me as a participant in San Diego and as an observer via social media– there’s a whole new generation of people becoming activists.
In Balboa Park the most passionate speaker was a 19 year old calling herself “Infinite”, associated with a group called Af3irm San Diego.
In Washington DC young activist were shocked to discover the “VIP” seating section set up by organizers working with Rev. Al Sharpton. In New York, members of the cast of Netflix series Orange Is The New Black marched with the crowd as a unit.
One more from New York….