“No Justice, No Peace! No Racist…Police!” This was one of many chants and declarations that could be heard as we flooded the streets of downtown Atlanta last night. Over 10,000 people, Black, Brown, White and otherwise gathered in the name of justice for Black lives. If I am being honest, while I have attended vigils and university “sanctioned” marches in protest before, this was the first time that I attended a community wide, public PROTEST. I did not know what to expect but I knew that I had to go and make my voice heard for all of my Black brothers and sisters who will never walk, talk or even cry, ever again.
If I am being honest again, after the shooting of the officers in Dallas, my friend group and I also decided to make an “escape plan” in case things got out of control while we were protesting. Things such as staying vigilant (which isn’t necessarily specific to protesting, but I digress), staying together in at least pairs, having eyes on one of us at all times that would “lead the way” in case we had to run for cover, etc. However, I am PROUD and HONORED to say that with all of the protestors out there yesterday, there were NO reports of violence. (So take that, FOX “News”! *rolls eyes*)
Random strangers passed out free water from their cars while they were stopped in traffic. Others held up their fists in solidarity and honked their car horns in support as we passed them on the street. Of course, there were some people who were visibly “upset” that they couldn’t continue their regularly scheduled commute home, but we did not care! You know who else cannot go home now? Alton Sterling. Philando Castille. Sandra Bland. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Walter Scott. Rekia Boyd. Mike Brown. Trayvon Martin. And the list goes on. And on. And on….
I do not think that I can actually put into words what it felt like to cover the streets, stop traffic, sit on I-85 in front of police officers and DEMAND change for people who look like me. There were babies, young adults, older adults, people in wheelchairs and walkers and even someone on CRUTCHES out marching! Literally nothing seemed to be able to stand in the way of our purpose and passion. We marched all afternoon and evening, with many protestors covering the streets well past midnight, singing, chanting and declaring “we got’ be alright!” Fists in the air, various signs and shirts with statements that said “Am I Next?” and “Black Lives Matter” filled the roads and sidewalks. While there is NOTHING glamorous or “pretty” about protesting, to see so many people come together and take a united stance against a common enemy (White supremacy), was truly a beautiful sight.
Additionally, I think the MOST beautiful sight that I witnessed at last night’s #AtlantaProtest was the unity among the Bloods & the Crips. When they walked to the front of the crowd, people literally parted down the middle to allow them to enter. Joined TOGETHER by red and blue bandanas, they also interlinked arms and raised them in the air. I never thought that I would see that happen in my LIFETIME. They were proof of what happens when differences are put aside in order to bring justice to EVERYBODY. They made history!
“Black Lives Matter” is more than a hashtag. It is more than a “moment” after something awful happens. It is an outcry for justice and a call to indict a system that throws away and dehumanizes Black people in this country. It is OUR movement. It is OUR life. #BlackLivesMatter #AtlantaProtest