It sounded like a war zone.
This was less than two & three blocks away from my place. I could see some of the commotion from my seventh-floor rooftop balcony. We most certainly heard everything. The tear gasses being launched and the explosion of gases that followed. The rubber pellets in the air and as they hit their intended targets. And bean bags–bean bags were being shot and they had their own loud pop before a muffled hit echoed throughout the streets and alleyways of downtown San Jose.
Then, there was the distinctive sound of a large vehicle revving its engine, tires screeching and air piercing gun shots. We saw and heard glimpses of what was an SUV running people over and the horrifying screams that followed.
Free speech. What happened to free speech? I hear that from a lot of people. Never from BIPOC folx though. Nope. All of history has taught us that speech is not free, certainly not for those with the darkest of melanin in their skin.
MLK wrote the majority of his most well-known quotes from a Birmingham Jail Cell. The Church clergy, mostly white southerners, were constantly pleading with him to stop his free speech. Some folx of color too, thought that he might be bringing undue hostility upon their community. MLK said that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and that, “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people” because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
There is even controversy in the indigenous community on Geronimo. Geronimo belonged to the Apache Clan and is known as the last indigenous warrior to remain fighting against the colonization and inhuman genocide of his people by both the United States and Mexico. In his day, the United States and white settlers viewed him as a terrorist–someone who wouldn’t simply surrender to the expansion of the United States westward. Contemporaries either viewed him as the last protector and Medicine Man of their Clan or a troublemaker, who was only bringing more death and penalties from the US government by not cooperating. Later, Geronimo orally told his story to a man who would later pen his biography and it will make any reader pause as you reflect on this man’s POV. Today, most First Nations are confided to reservations and often are fighting to have their Treaties honored and Geronimo’s name is appropriated in popular music, to the US military, and in children’s pool games. But, we STILL remain. Genocide was not successful.
The point I’m making is that all the current freedoms we enjoy today, were at one time, not free. They were fought for at a high cost, often with most people telling protesters to sit down and stop causing animosity and friction. I personally am still recovering with recovering from Covid-19 or I would have been down in the crowds covering the protests from a media photographer’s prospective.
I really hope that we get through this season without a lot of conflict, but that is not the way the protests and the societal response are starting out. I hope that the protesters are not severely injured and that the police can identify the vehicles involved in the intentional attempt at murder.