Today we all celebrate Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the United States! Well, not the real end, because it took two and a half years for the news to get to the entire country finally on June 19, 1865. And also not the real end, because Black Lives in America often still feel enslaved because of the awful treatment they continue to be subjected to - and that will no longer be tolerated in this nation.
In the weeks since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of brutal Minneapolis Police Officers (don't you wish the news would call that like it is? Instead of "when George Floyd died in police custody", or however else they try to lighten it up with), there have been actions in support of Black Lives every day, and they will continue until the police brutality stops (which they just can't seem to bring themselves to do - STILL), and there is justice and equality for ALL citizens. They just will. And should.
In addition to the marching and protesting that we simply can't let up on, it has also been a time for reflection and learning. There are so many resources available on how to be an Anti-Racist, that there really is no excuse not to.
There are several great films that I have watched in the last couple of weeks that really give insight as to what our Black brothers and sisters have been - and ARE - dealing with forever, and as to what absolutely must change. Start with 13th on Netflix.
After that MUST watch, watch Blindspotting. A harrowing story of what it feels like to be a Black man just going about the business of his own life, and being terrified about being killed by Police every single day. It's so tense, and I felt sick to my stomach that my friends have had to feel like this their entire lives. We all have to work together to bring them the relief that they are FREE and can live like they are.
I watched Seberg on Amazon last night, about the actress Jean Seberg, who became a star of the French New Wave, but was a country girl from Iowa who strongly supported The Black Panthers - and had her life completely ruined as punishment by our garbage government for doing so. I really identified with her, because I'm very outspoken about my feelings about the overt racism in this country - and just got out of Twitter Jail for it (as Trump is allowed to spew his hate and disinformation freely - disgusting). That won't deter me - nothing will. And Jean was the same way. Please give it a watch as you look for inspiration on how to be an ally.
Spike Lee's new joint Da 5 Bloods on Netflix isn't nearly a perfect film, but it does shed some light on what it was like to be a Black soldier in Vietnam, and how the U.S. Armed Forces put them on the front lines to die first, as they were considered expendable. Man, we sure have a lot of work to do to make up to our Black and Brown citizens for the horrors this country has put them through, even as they have fought to protect it. Shameful, and a permanent scar on our nation's face.
I'm halfway through reading Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, a beautifully written story about a young slave boy and the adventures of his life. Slavery is so disgusting, and when you read about the daily horrors inflicted on these people, you wonder how in the world they could ever even begin to forgive this country ... so the very least we can do - THE VERY LEAST - is to put an end to them being murdered by Police in our modern world. Like, it's just beyond shocking to me that it STILL happens - but then it isn't either.
We've clearly got so much work cut out for us, as reading any comment section on any post about this topic clearly shows. Some people - usually with a MAGA type profile picture - are so backwards thinking and so uneducated about life in 2020 that you almost want to give up on them - but we can't. We need them to STOP IT TOO. The daily videos of privileged white people still trying to oppress Black lives are so sad and embarrassing ... but I have to believe they're still acting out because they know their days are numbered and their pathetic little outbursts are the last gasps of a dying breed. They have to be.
And we ALL have to be advocates. Gone are the days when someone would say something on the edge of being racist and everyone just kind of moves on. That shit needs to be called out WHEN it happens, and made clear that YOU won't put up with it. Consider this fair warning that if anything like that is uttered in my presence, you will be made to feel like the gross dumbass you are. And you won't soon forget it. If that means I get less invites from people that like to be racist, cool with me. Bye.
I'm going to celebrate every Juneteenth with music by Black artists, viewing entertainment by Black artists, cooking from Black restaurants, and supporting all Black businesses. Today I went to the Calhoun Square (Bde Maka Ska Square?) in Uptown Minneapolis to see all of the murals that have gone up there since the murder of George Floyd by brutal Minneapolis Police Officers (maybe if we say it enough it will sink in). They are wonderful - and it would be great if they could be permanent.
In the three and a half weeks since George Floyd's murder at the hands of the murdering MPD, I have felt a unity in this city - and in this WORLD - that I've never felt before. Sane and compassionate people of all races and styles have all come together to insist that Justice is served for all Black Lives, and to insist that the days of ALL being treated EQUALLY is HERE. It's HERE. We're living it in real time, and it's something spectacular to behold.
We must not let up. We must not give in. We must stay united. And we must live with LOVE - for ALL. C'mon, Everybody! Once things are great for everyone, they really WILL be great. But not until then. To KNOW Justice - is to KNOW Peace.
Please, as a way to celebrate and honor Black Lives, PLEASE remember to LOVE, not HATE (as my friend's daughter, Lucy, painted here!) Just start there. With empathy.
There is so much to process, I needed a few days to mull it all over before I went went off on a rant for the ages. People are real touchy, myself included. The world has changed since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, and we can never go back to how it was. After so much grief and upheaval, it really does seem like the future will now be brighter - no matter what your race is. It HAS to be.
The last couple of weeks have been SO heavy, yet also so incredibly beautiful. The moments of true humanity and grace will stay with me forever, and give me the encouragement to hope against all hopes that this time - THIS TIME - really will be different, and that our country's future will truly be better and equal for us ALL. It HAS to be.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has been a real community leader through all of the uprising after the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day. They have fed people, they have organized the donation drives ... they are honestly Nobel Prize-worthy. They are also fun. They hosted a "Summit" on Saturday at their location on Nicollet Avenue, as a day of peace and healing for everyone who has been so super maxed out stressed.
Art, Mural making, kid activities, Jamaican food, live reggae ... it was all the stuff I love on a regular day, but this time it was for the cause. It was for JUSTICE and PEACE. Because it HAS to be.
My dear friend and fellow activist, Rebecca, met me at Pimento, and we got to meet Tomme Beevas, the owner and ringleader of all of the activities happening in and around Pimento. What a cool dude, and what a good heart. The kind of heart we now all need to strive for in order to truly implement change. Because we HAVE to.
Nicollet Avenue was packed all day, with people walking the sidewalks and looking at all of the new mural art that has popped up since that day the world began to change in Minneapolis - because it HAD to. The soundtrack of the day was heavy on Bob Marley, which was totally fine with me.
A big, crazy thunderstorm moved in on Saturday night, so our outdoor revelry was cut short, but Sunday dawned very gorgeous, and very hot. There was a community meeting planned for Powderhorn Park in the afternoon, so I headed that way to see what the City Council was going to say. I hoped that there would be a call for real and systemic change, and boy, was I not disappointed! The beautiful park was full of concerned citizens of Minneapolis, all there because we need to stand together now to implement the ideas on all of the signs we've been reading at the marches the last couple of weeks.
*Speaking of marches - they are working. There has already been so many cases of people demanding accountability from the police, it's actually staggering. Minneapolis Schools and Parks have cut ties with the MPD. So has First Avenue and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. All four murderers of George Floyd have now been arrested. Believe me, NONE of this would ever have happened without the video taken of the murder. It would have just been yet another murder of a black man swept under the disgusting police department rug. But not anymore.
Keep filming everything messed up that you see, because that is really now the first line of defense. And stick up for people yourself! I'd really like to think that George Floyd would not have been dead if I had been there. I can't imagine not bum-rushing that sicko cop the minute I heard "I can't breathe!" I just can't. We HAVE to put ourselves out there to protect our fellow citizens of all colors if there is ever to be peace for everyone. Seriously. I've already had an incident at Augsburg Park in Richfield, with yet another gross, entitled white woman telling a Somalian woman she didn't belong in the park with her "Disgusting, yucky children." My heart was crushed that someone could behave like that, especially NOW. Racists are getting terrified that their time is up, and there will be more gross examples as they struggle to try to be superior - as usually their being white is about all they have going for them - at least in this case. We all simply must be better.
OK - back to Powderhorn Park. Speakers spoke, poems were read, and then the City Council President, Lisa Bender, got up there and said she was no longer a "reformist", and didn't believe that the MPD could be reformed. She and a veto-proof group of 9 council members straight up told the crowd that they were going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department! And look into how we can go forward with "Community Led Public Safety (CLAPS vs COPS?!). The crowd went wild, as it was exactly what we wanted to hear. This is obviously early stages of figuring it all out, but THAT is progress - in just two weeks.
Of course the arguments online began immediately, with an uproar (usually from suburban whites) about how in the world can there be a world without police? Well, to that I would reply, when was it last safe WITH police? Breonna Taylor was killed in her OWN HOME by police - they got the wrong house, shrug. Justine Damond (white woman) called the police to help someone else, and ended up being shot and killed by the police, in a case that I still can't believe. If you live in Venice, California - they just never come, and if they do, the person causing the trouble is usually back out on the streets the same day. I've had my own run-ins with the police as a blonde, blue-eyed woman, enough that I don't even think to call them. If I had to call 911, I would ask them to send EMTs (Heroes), never the police. And judging from all of the mass gatherings I've been involved in the last couple of weeks, the PEOPLE are way better at policing themselves. The only trouble I saw was both started and escalated by the police. Period.
The brutality we're seeing coming out of cities around the country has been sickening. Even on camera now, the police just don't care. I've seen maybe two good cop stories among the thousands of brutal ones. We will be better off without them, trust me. I know this is super controversial right now, but it's new. And it's been done before, with far better results for Camden, NJ. Also, for those arguing about defunding the police - Okaaaaaay ... but you were fine with the government defunding of schools, national parks, Medicare, food safety, the postal service, the sciences, and the arts, just to name a few? Please educate yourselves before you begin your panicked rants, because ... C'mon. You and WE can all be better - and scrapping the police department as it has been is a wonderful start. I can't wait.
After that large victory of a speech at Powderhorn, I headed back over to 38th and Chicago to see how even bigger the George Floyd Memorial has become. I mean, WOW. An entire block of Chicago is now painted with the names of the many, many people who have drawn their last breaths in the hands of police officers. Flowers had been laid on every name, and it was both beautiful and soul-crushing to see so many lives lost at the hands of those intended to protect and serve us. They have failed miserably at that basic tenet of their jobs, and are not even close to being worthy of the keepers of peace intention either. It's terribly sad what that line of work has become, and I'm really sad for the men and women that got into it to try to be "the good ones", because it's so systemic that they end up being bad too, just by being complicit and not preventing their colleagues from their dastardly deeds. The saying is "One rotten apple spoils the whole bunch" - meaning they're all spoiled by proximity, not that there are good ones exempt. (Please stop using that line of defense - you sound dumb. And why are you defending murder and brutality anyway? That would be a good self-reflection moment for many).
The street fair atmosphere continues, as so many people are coming to pay their respects and to see this place that has been plastered all over the news. The feeling of unity that lives there now between everyone there is beautiful and humbling - as the tangible feeling of solidarity is the biggest takeaway. It's now finally starting to feel like people are starting to really get that we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. That's always been a nice platitude, but when white people start realizing that black people being murdered by the police makes us ALL less safe - then change can really occur. And it MUST. We absolutely cannot let this feeling die among all the other deaths.
A block or so away from the Memorial is a big park field, now filled with cardboard gravestones of people who were also all murdered by the police. There are so many that it feels like a gut punch, and the people walking among the names were very quiet and reverent as they did so. The sad thing is that the artists add to it every day - because they can. They won't run out of names. And that is why we march.
A big cardboard fist had been erected in the middle of the circle of flower at the 38th and Chicago intersection. A fierce looking Black woman got up to have her picture taken, and raised her fist in the international symbol of fighting the power. I raised my fist back to her and we looked directly at each other when I took her photo. That is what it's going to take - people of other races looking out for each other - because we HAVE TO. I believe the majority of us have decided that enough has been WAY more than enough, and will now do what it takes to implement the real change this country so desperately needs. For the sad few who still don't get it and still argue online about how "All Lives Matter" (we know, we know -that's not the point right now), and how "It's just a few bad apples in the police" and care about the "rioting" (peaceful protesting) and having their commuter route messed up for an afternoon, I plead with you to educate yourselves, and learn how to be an Anti-Racist. Because when you say all of those above tone-deaf things - your innate racism and privilege really is showing, and it's not a good look.
To those who choose to remain on the sidelines and say nothing - that is a problem too. Now is EXACTLY the time to be speaking up and out, and worrying what your play group moms or whoever will think is not advancing anything - and prolonging everything. Think about the world you want to leave for those kids - and I'll bet it's not one where you have to explain to them why the nice officer murdered someone in broad daylight on t.v. as they shouted for their mother. I'm pretty sure that sucks for you too. I saw this yesterday, and share it with you now because it's so extra right on:
Pandemics are real, whether or not you know someone who is sick.
Racism is real, even if you aren't a racist.
White privilege is real, even if you don't feel it (but you do).
Police brutality is real, even if the cop you know is kind and just.
Your world isn't THE world Everything is not about you.
George Floyd was finally laid to rest yesterday in Houston, Texas, next to that mother he was crying out for (after a four hour funeral that also insisted that this time IS different). I think that's what has stuck with most people - because we've all been scared, and we've all cried out for our mothers - just not with a policeman's knee choking the life out of us.
And we're all witnessing what happens when we decide we're never going to allow that to happen again. As we slowly but surely get on the same page (aside from those sad, disgusting racists that you just have to hope die out soon and ignore and block in the time-being - and many are trolls/bots so keep that in mind before you self-combust with anger at the guy with something MAGA in his profile pic), the time for healing has begun. The time to maybe dare to have the audacity of HOPE, that we will one day be deserving of the name UNITED States. I'm pretty sure we can do it, and we're already seeing what happens when the People have the Power - and there will always be more of us than them. That too is hope.
So, as my favorite piece on Nicollet last Saturday said, LOVE TO ALL WHO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE! And I'd like to think that means love to ALL. The work continues ... and I will see you out there in the brighter, better future. Thank you for doing your part too. We need you. YOU.
I'll leave you with the video my brother Paul just released, using footage from my marching in Minneapolis, and friends marching in Venice. It's rad and so is he.
*I know I'm super left-leaning, and pretty radical to many of my Minnesota friends. I've lived in the Venice bubble of like minds for really long time, and it's weird to hear counter-arguments - or worse, silence - from some here that don't jive at all with my thinking. I don't apologize for my stance on these issues, because I know my heart is in the right place. I would ask anyone who disagrees with anything I have to say to first think about it, and see if you can find some common ground with me before you freak out. I bet you can. And if you can't ... you might want to go back and think some more, because I pretty much only care about justice for all - why wouldn't you?
Yesterday was the anniversary of the day we lost my Dad to awful cancer when I was four. It is always a sad day for us, but was especially so this year, because the world itself is so sad, but also because I'm currently in our childhood home taking care of my Mom and older brother, and we found three big boxes of love letters to my Mom from my Dad that she just blazed through, so she's missing him extra this year. She raised myself and my two brothers all by herself since then, and we have first hand knowledge of how hard that was, and what George Floyd's children now have to feel for the rest of their lives. Mom has been watching it all on the news due to the pandemic, but really wanted to see it for herself. We thought a good way to honor both my Dad and Mr. Floyd would be to visit the memorial scene at the now sacred ground at 38th and Chicago in South Minneapolis. We took all the precautions we could, and off we went. And I'm SO glad we did.
It feels a bit like a street fair as you approach the intersection of the site where Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police just over a week ago. The whole world has exploded in outrage over it, and this corner of our city will never be the same - nor should it be. THIS time simply must be different. And LASTING. The entire planet is together in this uprising, going through the five stages of grief in different time zones around the globe like we're doing The Wave. I think Minneapolis is now in organizing mode, possibly depression ... with acceptance looming up ahead. But we need to go further in our grief ... to be BETTER, not just accepting.
Parents were there with children. I was there with my Mom in a wheelchair. Elderly people were heading that direction with walkers. Literally every walk of life was there to pay their respects, see it for themselves, and to show their solidarity in this struggle for systemic JUSTICE over systemic MURDER. It is so powerful to see.
Helpers remain everywhere, and this intersection was full of them. Booths were set up to distribute prepared food for everyone there, all for free. We had some delicious empanadas because the darling women would not take no for an answer, and about a hundred people were asking if anyone was hungry or thirsty, and then making sure that they weren't.
There was also an area to distribute food boxes, fresh produce and canned goods, gallons of milk, diapers and cleaning products ... anything that anyone needed due to their area's stores being boarded up or destroyed was there and free of charge, thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers and donations. Minnesota will have your back.
Seeing the actual stretch of sidewalk where Floyd had the life choked out of him by a man paid to serve and protect all of us is SUPER emotional. I had already been there, but it hit my sweet Mom very hard. Especially because of the significance of the date for our family. She was openly crying, and I think that was good for everyone to see. That a little elderly Scandinavian white woman in a wheelchair cared enough to be there to show her support, even in a pandemic. People could not have been sweeter, creating wide paths for us to traverse through the crowd, and saying that they appreciated her being there. I hope so much that the people who have been SO judgemental about the very necessary protests will find it in their hearts to visit this place for themselves, to gain a little bit of understanding of the situation, and dig deep to find where the empathy lives inside of themselves. It will change your perspective, and it will make you a better person for being there. Of that I have no doubt.
An older Black man was playing his guitar, when a teenaged looking white boy came along with his own guitar to join him in a jam. It was just one of the many displays of unity and one love that touched my heart while we were there, but then every single thing fully squeezed my heart, both in sadness, anger, and full on inspiration that through all of this we will have created a much better future.
I've had people who know me and how deeply I care and feel about this situation literally defending the driver of the semi that barreled through our peaceful protest on Sunday before even asking how I was. The same people who know that Minnesotans stop on a dime for a duck, thinking that a professional driver of a gas tanker somehow couldn't get it together to hit his brakes for thousands of people up ahead? I mean, c'mon. No charges for him, either. I got a speeding ticket for being 10 miles over limit ten feet away from the sign saying the speed I was going, but this guy doesn't get even a citation for nearly killing scores of innocent and peaceful protesters. Give me a fucking break. And if language bothers you more than murder of innocent, unarmed, handcuffed people, go look in the mirror and ask yourself what is wrong with you ... and why. Then please work on that, for the sake of us all. Growth is crucial to a well-lived life. I'm ultra-done arguing with anyone who still doesn't get it. Going forward, I'm really only interested in how people are helping this cause, and if you're not helping, it's time for another trip to the mirror to search yourself for why not. Opportunities to help are vast, from in-home phone calling and emailing and donating for change, to out on the streets, cleaning, feeding, marching, showing your face in support. There is something for everyone to do, and zero excuse not to. Thank you in advance!
It absolutely baffles me how hard it is for some people to grasp this global situation, and how it has been brewing for centuries. How this upheaval should have happened a long time ago, and how vigils and voting historically hasn't done much. Nearly all positive change in this country has come from civil unrest, and if you don't know that, I don't know how to help you. What I DO know is that history will look back on this time in our country, and I know that I'll be on the beautiful, right side of it. Will you? Minneapolis people don't get to claim Prince or Lizzo, and then NOT stand up for Black Lives Matter. You just don't. You also don't get to tell your grandkids that you had anything to do with changing the world, because you didn't - unless you get out and get involved NOW. You are needed. It will take every one of us to right the wrongs that have plagued this country since even before it officially was one. Let's together say enough is enough. Please.
Anyway, I digressed for a moment, and want to return the focus to what a completely beautiful and inspiring place it is to be at 38th and Chicago. Music played, people danced, people consoled, and strangers told each other that they loved them. Despite the horror that occurred exactly here on May 25th ... Memorial Day ... this will now forever be a place that is ALWAYS Memorial Day ... sacred and beautiful, because this is where maybe - just maybe - true civil rights began. There will most likely be a museum here. Don't be late to the party.
By the time we went back to our car, Mom's tears had turned from despondently sad to positively hopeful. That through these times we can see the light up ahead ... for everyone. And for good. She was so glad she went. I was so glad she went. I can hear her on the phone telling her friend about it now, and it makes me even more proud to call her my Mom. I didn't get to know my Dad nearly as well, but he was a member of the National Guard, and I'd like to think he would have stuck up for me out there. I'm so sorry to George Floyd's that they won't get to have their Dad anymore either, but I hope they know how much his life has now meant to all of us. A true and lasting legacy to be proud of forever, around the world. I don't want my Dad to be forgotten either, so here's a shot of him in his grooviest prime.
One Human Family, I love you all, and I will work for and speak out for you and what's right as long as I'm lucky to be breathing. To the ones who are somehow not on board with this sentiment, I'll hope that you will educate yourselves and find your empathy soon, because your world depends on it too. ONE LOVE.
*A small victory: All four murdering officers have now been charged. Our actions are doing something. Not nearly enough, but this is something. On to the permanent end to systemic murder, violence, and gross inequality to people of color by this society. EVERYONE has had enough.
Sunday morning dawned a stunningly beautiful day in Minneapolis. A beautiful day for a peaceful protest march. There were several planned, and after seeing how much unity and community there had been in the city on Saturday at the clean up, I felt comfortable and compelled to take part in the march organized for downtown Minneapolis Sunday afternoon. I'd been pacing our floors wanting to stand up for my people, and a little constricted due to my current role as caregiver to my Mom and brother. Daytime has meant peacetime every day of this ordeal we've been living since last Monday, so I was going.
I quickly drew up a "No Bail" sign to bring with me to U.S. Bank Stadium, where the "No Bail March" was going to go down. These are marches for justice for George Floyd, and the demand is that all four murderer police officers are arrested, without bail. This STILL has not been done, even though to not do so continues the unrest worldwide (THANK YOU, LA!) - and the MPD knows this full well. I parked on the outskirts of downtown, as in case things got crazy, I could get out of there easier. I walked the few blocks to the stadium, along with a stream of others dressed in the asked-for black, and carrying their own signs demanding justice.
There was a huge crowd gathered in the shadows of our Vikings stadium, and I was too far away to hear what the speakers were saying, but clapped and chanted along when it arose. Once again, helpers were everywhere, passing out waters, masks, hand sanitizer, buckets to pick up trash along the march route, and even pizzas. All for free, all for each other.
There was a moment of silence for Floyd, where everyone took a knee, and raised their fists in complete silence. Peace. Once the speakers were done, the march began through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Honestly, it was like a giant, moving Bernie Sanders rally. All for one, and one for all. Every color, every age (babies in strollers to grannies in wheelchairs), all wanting to show that they stand up for justice together. Most everyone was wearing a mask so you couldn't tell that much what they looked like, but the eyes showed their good souls. Everyone was beyond polite, and all were in a great mood to inspire on a beautiful, summery Minnesota day.
The march was organized, and there was a specific route that journalists, officials, police and the National Guard all knew about. The roads had already been cleared (this is going to be very important later). We marched past City Hall, shouting George Floyd's name the entire way.
People on bikes and taking their Sunday strolls lined the streets, all shouting and raising their fists in solidarity (if not joining in themselves. Why?). The huge group turned on to Hennepin Avenue, heading for the Hennepin Bridge, this time shouting, "I CAN'T BREATHE!" - the last words spoken by Mr. Floyd. It was emotional. It was inspiring. It was beautiful to see.
Once on the bridge, there was another taking of the knee and total silence.
Like, you could hear a boat's engine going by on the Mississippi River below. Peace and unity and like minds together in the name of justice was one of the very most solemnly beautiful moments of my life, and I bet I can speak for just about everyone there.
Guys in a pickup truck were going through to give people icy cold water on this very hot day, and thanking everyone for being there, as they thanked them for the cool drink. Unity. Support. One Love.
The group then marched on down off the bridge, with honks from cars on adjacent streets honking along to show their support. Some girls were waving sage over the whole thing as we passed by (I hate that smell, but appreciate the cleansing sentiment). Others had the backs of their cars open, handing out snacks and drinks to anyone who wanted it. We turned on to University Avenue, heading for the 35W Bridge (the one that was rebuilt after the old one there collapsed). The freeway was cleared, as city officials knew this march was happening, and exactly what route it would take.
Marchers scrambled down the embankments on to the freeway, and it was pretty surreal to be surrounded by thousands of people on a major thoroughfare, all holding signs and unified in our mission. The bridge was the way back to the football stadium where the march had began. The idea was to cross the bridge, exit at Washington, and head back to the Skol ship to gather again to wrap up the day before curfew. It was SO beautiful to look across the water at our Minneapolis skyline, then turn around to see so many people of every make and style marching along together, chanting for justice - and more than determined to actually get it THIS time. Because THIS time, we have the whole world on our side.
There was another moment of silence there in the sunshine. A speaker far away from me was talking, and all I could make out from her speech, was "Isn't this BEAUTIFUL!?" Because it really was. We took another knee, we raised our fists, and we heard the silence of peace and reflection. And then, in the distance, we heard a horn. In an instant, people leaped to their feet and began running toward the edges of the bridge. No one knew what was happening at first because there were so many people. Then we saw it - a giant gas tanker coming down the freeway at full speed! I'm actually crying again as I type this, because it was so terrifying to think that people were about to be mowed down in this moment of peace, it was unreal!
I moved to the edge of the bridge, where so many people were crushing into that I felt my body being nearly pressed over the side, looking down at the water below. Everyone was trapped on a bridge over a river, and there was instant panic. I started yelling, "STAY CALM!" like a chant, and a few people near me joined in, and it kind of helped. We began to walk single file straight ahead, with the only goal being to get the hell off of the bridge. At this point, we all thought there must be tens of people killed and/or maimed, and people were sobbing openly. A woman with her baby in a stroller had a man in front of her yelling, "Let this baby through!" We just kept walking as calmly as possible, total strangers suddenly caring even more deeply about the person right next to them than they already had.
A fence had been flattened out so people could get over it and off the freeway faster, and that grassy area soon became full of the traumatized marchers from the bridge. We knew that the driver of the semi had been pulled out of the cab of his truck by the horrified marchers, but didn't know what had become of him then (we later heard that good people had surrounded Bogdan Vechirko and fully saved his life, so that he can be tried by the police - whatever good that will do. ), and that was scary too. No one wanted another death, especially at the hands of people who were out there trying so hard to do good, to demand justice, and to do so extremely peacefully. *I filmed none of this, as survival was more important.
Once gathered off of the freeway, people were shaking and crying and calling their loved ones, and so deeply sad that some psycho (He was. Don't argue with me. They're now saying he "panicked". Really? With thousands of people directly in front of you, you barrel straight at them?! The only panic was from the people fleeing from him. And maybe from him when he realized he was about to get the beating of a lifetime) had come along to wreck the vibe of what had been an absolutely perfect day of our city standing together in solidarity. I have questions. How did the truck get through to a designated march location? Why did the police you can see in the video do nothing to stop him? And REALLY WHY did the police than indiscriminately spray mace over people merely walking up the ramp away from the commotion? Peaceful, scared people were even more traumatized by jerk police who just can't stop being jerks! Mace? It was an organized march. We hadn't seen a single officer the whole day of PEACE, and the peace only stopped when they showed up. Again, BECAUSE OF THEM. THEY are WHY we were marching, and then they come along to totally wreck that too? There is such a disconnect in that operation, it's simply baffling. (Then, as we walked back to our cars, the cop choppers showed up with big, orange things of water to dump on the shaken people. Because they're so compassionate, and serve and protect so well). I'll say this. Yes, I know that there are some good cops. I have good friends who are cops - but I've even heard them say things that definitely let you know they treat Black people differently. I've been encouraged by the very few videos of police captains deciding to march with the People - like in Flint. But that is a rarity, and far too few good police make themselves known, and far too few of them stand up when their colleague has done something unthinkable ... as we're dealing with now. So, I'll just say this. If you are a good one - be better. SHOW us that you're better. Because after this last week, you don't have a lot of fans. Worldwide. You can and should do better because you took an oath to protect and serve, not murder and escalate the aftermath. Show us you ARE better this time by arresting the four who have so sullied your name, and by never allowing things like this - murder - to happen ever again. PLEASE.
Whatever. We won't be deterred. We WILL get justice. I would be right back out there again yesterday, even knowing how it ended up. Because I feel we MUST be. Lots of people I know don't feel that way (which is why I was there alone), but I will do even more work to make up for them, and hope that they will be enlightened by all of this too. George Floyd will not have died in vain, that much I know for sure. I KNOW that things will get better for people of all walks of life, simply because they must if we are ever to have peace again. No one is giving up. So racists are going to have to get over themselves, once and for all. The whole world agrees, and that's why you're seeing unrest across the globe, pandemic or not. Because citizens of the world all realize that we cannot continue how we have been. It's not working. Very clearly.
Some will say to "Vote" or call reps or do whatever stuff like that, and that's great. But it has historically not changed a thing. The only way we've ever seen change is by people standing up together against what is fundamentally wrong. That's what we're seeing now, and we're going to be so much better for it. Growth isn't easy, and it hurts a lot of the time ... but you learn. And you improve. And you maybe change the whole world.
This can end now. Arrest and convict all four murderers of George Floyd. Show that justice CAN be served in this nation. I've heard people say they're embarrassed that this is happening in Minnesota. I couldn't disagree more. How proud are we going to be when we know that racial inequality began its slow death march HERE in our beautiful, progressive, caring state? That WE made this better history! (People didn't like the people marching with MLK, Jr. at the time either, but I bet they wish they had now. History will very clearly show which was the right side to be on). That will be a wonderful legacy, one that we can all be an important part of. If you can find it in yourself to join the struggle for change. I'll be there, ready to stand side by side with you for a better world for us all.
Thanks and so much love to all the beautiful, wonderful, caring, empathic people I met and marched with yesterday. We are all better people for being there together, and we WILL overcome.