As the RNC crept upon us all, my mother continued to infuse in me this fear for RNC. She continually asked me to keep her updated and promise to be as safe as possible. She specifically told me to not be involved with any protests. So when I texted her the photos of the protest yesterday, she was very worried and scared for my safety. Not because she was worried about the protesters, but rather because she was worried about the police officers.
There was easily 3 to 1, if not 4 to 1, cops to protesters. I can barely put to words how it felt to be surrounded by a sea of cops yelling to move at me and boxing me in. The large officers were in full control of our path and fate. The fear I felt as these cops/sheriffs from across the country stared me down with intense stern faces was immense. The bikes they used to box us in on the block and the masks they wore reminded me of a possible military state in the American future. Many people (many of them being white men who told me this perspective) tried to rationalize it as the police protecting us from the other protesters and vice versa, but in reality I felt less safe than if the squadron of police weren’t there. I understand this viewpoint however, I am curious to see how the DNC handles protesters interacting with different ideological protesters.
In the moment I was extremely anxious about how this protest would pan out. However, I knew I wanted and needed to be there voicing my beliefs. I told my mother, before I left for the RNC, that I think we as people must be martyrs for change. We don’t have the responsibilities like worrying about caring for another life or taking care of many life’s. And no matter what fear I felt I knew it was vital that I was vocal and shouted for revolution.
The protest was calling for revolution, it was calling for the end of an oppressive government, and it was calling for action by the peoples to fight this government. The pain and emotion that was felt throughout the crowd was immense and powerful. They had street medics throughout the crowd in case of an assault from either police or other protesters. There were individuals with wagons full of lunch bags and bottles of water for the protesters. They were fully ready and prepared to be out there hours; they weren’t leaving until they were ready to leave. As we came to the end of our march, speaker/leaders of the protest began to position themselves in front of a board showing the countless people of color killed by police. They advocated for justice and a better America where all are valued and safe. However, as they were concluding a new protest was making its rounds. The police used their bikes as barricades between us and the new group of protesters. These protesters were protesting us protesting. They were playing patriotic music on a mega phone and waving around Trump signs. Our protesters and the 50 or so media personnel were running up to the barricades to film and yell at these Trump supporters respectively. This lasted for easily 20 minutes and during this time we couldn’t walk back to where we joined in the protest. We had to wait for the barricade to open for us to leave and only to encounter another one. One of my biggest fears is being trapped, and in this moment of being trapped I still felt so powerful. As the countless police were ushering us around and puffing out their chests, I felt powerful. I was proud of my voice in this moment, I was proud of being surround by fear yet being so carefree. Many times I worry my voice shouldn’t be heard because of lack of intelligence, but at this protest I felt full of strength and the will to speak for a better America.
-David Ajamy II