After my last post, I felt like I needed to do something. So I looked for any gatherings happening in San Diego, and I found one that happened on Friday.
I attended my first protest march that evening. It was in the neighborhood of City Heights. The demonstrators were instructed to meet in a park that was right across the street from the police department. Across the park, the police had organized a Toys for Tots drive and were going to show “Frozen.” There were police everywhere. I drove by a couple times first to try to gauge what was going on. When I drove by, there were a lot of people on the ground. I read later that this act was a “die-in” where they lay on the ground for 11 minutes to represent the number of times Eric Garner said the phrase, “I can’t breathe.”
I parked and walked to the group, passing a multitude of motorcycle police on the way. When I walked up, the march was literally just starting so I was glad for the timing. We marched through the City Heights neighborhood, chanting various things. It was an interesting experience. The organizer in me was only mildly impressed with the cohesiveness of the event. There were several people who rolled a PA speaker around that had someone on a microphone to lead the chants. I’d guess there were 3-4 people “in charge.” Many of the people held signs. It was a mixed race crowd and also all ages. I’d guess there were probably 100-200 people. We walked for about 40 minutes.
Once the march started, the police were in action. They blocked streets so we could walk on them undeterred, and they directed traffic away from the protest. I thought that was great. Plus none of the demonstrators were going into direct confrontations with the police. It was truly a peaceful protest. I liked that.
What I didn’t like so much was the atmosphere of unknown. It felt subversive. I am not scared of police (though seeing them in such numbers before the march was a little off-putting), and I don’t do anything to break the law. I’m no radical. But that’s part of the whole point, isn’t it? Where race does come into it. Here’s an interesting site that’s come from the Twitter hashtags, #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack, that shows how differently people are treated by police. So it makes sense that I found that it felt subversive while someone else might have found it empowering.
I’m glad I participated in the march. Because of what I’ve searched on Facebook and the web, the information that is served up to me shows a lot more of these stories. It’s something that’s definitely on my mind a lot.