Protest

What it looks like

One day, I was one of fifty, then a couple hundred, then several thousand. One day, a few dozen of us occupied a lane of traffic and marched laps through a busy neighborhood, guarded by a slow, honking caravan of cars—just so Los Angeles, to protest by creating traffic—until we took over a big intersection, Sunset and Vine, people shouting, honking their horns in support, getting out of their cars to join in, and then one driver popped his trunk and took out a bunch of drums, assembled a full drum set on the street and started playing, then everyone really started shouting. Many medical workers in scrubs. Many truck drivers, pickup beds filled with water bottles, handing out supplies. An elderly man brought dozens of In-N-Out cheeseburgers—still hot!—in a trolley. Who wants water? Who wants hand sanitizer? Who needs masks? Furious, quiet, proud. Stoic, despairing, joyful. While police officers stood by glaring, sometimes snickering, and patrol cars swooped around, and the National Guard, with big rifles across their chests, literally dressed to kill, watched silently, or spied down from office buildings, or rode around in sand-colored Humvees. Two, three, six helicopters above our heads—I live near Hollywood, helicopter central, and I’m still not used to it, the way the racket shreds your nerves. Chants for hours. Pauses for quiet. With almost everybody carrying handmade signs. “SILENCE IS VIOLENCE.” “I’M HERE FOR MY BLACK SON.” One man, wearing a camouflage shirt and mask, carried “REDNECKS FOR BLACK LIVES.” One friend, a journalist, was arrested, one of thousands. “I’ve attended a half-dozen protests, all beautiful, peaceful and non-violent, until the cops began firing rubber bullets and tear gas,” he wrote. “We were shackled for 4 hours, writhing in pain, marched into a Covid Coffin bus, packed like sardines, transported downtown, processed, and cited. It was insignificant compared to the real police horrors committed daily, but still one of the most dehumanizing and degrading experiences of my life.” Sounds linger in my ears, all the hoarse voices shouting, crying, call-and-response, Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives DO matter. Black lives DO matter. Say his name. Say his name. George Floyd. George Floyd. Say her name. Say her name. Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor. Hands up. Hands up. Don’t shoot. Don’t shoot. This is what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.

The journalist cited is Jeff Weiss, quoted from a post on his Instagram.
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