George Floyd Protests – Scenes from Los Angeles…..continues


[Los Angeles, CA – Day 18]  It has been eighteen days since George Floyd was murdered.  Depending on one’s perspective or life’s experiences, sides have been drawn.  Just about everyone agrees ex-officer Chauvin as well as the other three arresting ex-officers used excessive and unnecessary force.

The Floyd incident has morphed from a moment to a movement based on what we are witnessing in cities around the globe.  As expected, there are those who proclaim the reaction is over-blown.  They go further to suggest it is some type of Democratic funded operation to smear our system.   I guess they feel because Floyd was African-American and the majority of them vote in favor of Democratic candidates, surely the party must be behind their antics?  They quietly dismiss the notion that deciding which political party to support boils down to which one MOSTLY  supports your issues?  It appears to be a sound-bite that some accept based on which media they consume? 

One side sees a need for justice.  The other side sees a need to stop disrespecting civility.  Another critical analysis those in opposition can’t explain, as history may be the final arbiter is why folk from various ethnicities, age groups and other demographics have joined the movement?   To further justify their belief the reaction is fueled by a political party, they voice opposition via social media suggesting those who support the reaction to Floyd are ill-informed or have they been induced into some cult?  

Most have forgotten the Black Lives Matter has been around.  Just in 2016, through media it was vilified as a revolutionary group you should be scared to associate with.  That’s why this time is different.  As mentioned, folk from all walks of life have changed their social consciousness and now proudly proclaim the Black Lives Matter moniker.

 

There is one more critical point about protesting which those in opposition somehow find difficult to accept or understand.  Protesting is a public gesture to create awareness of the issue.  Following must be a series of actions which make the reason for protesting a serious action.  As an example most people never heard or knew of Emmett Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson or more contemporary examples such as Alton Sterling,  Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner or even George Floyd.  It was the type of tragic death they suffered which made them household names.  Therein lays a prime reason for the public outrage we are experiencing.  It is bigger than any specific named person.  It has to do with a system that minimizes their life merely because they were black. It has very little to do with their past as a seed of racism makes it okay to marginalize those who are deemed less than.  Unfortunately, many buy into this paradigm while defining themselves as wholesome american folk.  


Protest is a basic right.  How long people take to the streets is anybody’s guess?  What we are hearing by documenting daily events is it will continue until November 3rd!  While Black Lives Matter is the main organization leading the protest, many splinter groups have joined and that has helped fuel the energy to sustain the reaction.

Revolutionary Communist Party known as RevCom was one group which led the Los Angeles Protest – Day 18.   Just like when Black Lives Matter hit the scene, their name probably scares the hell out of people.  The long and short, they are a social-action group.  One of their main tenets is trying to unite “Brown & Black.”  Speakers did a very good job in communicating how racism has been used to divide the groups.  Unfortunately many in the affected groups have bought into the notion of distrusting the other.  As an example one of the passionate Latina leaders expressed how many from Mexico and other Latin American countries have been raised to feel African-Americans are lazy, untrustworthy, criminal and otherwise the type of people you need to stay away from.


Like many rallies, the participation builds as it weaves through the streets to their final destination.  They started across the street from City Hall, facing Grant Park.  Headed south on Spring street, the spirited group marched to 7th Street and headed west until they reached Mac Arthur Park which is several miles away in the Westlake community.  There were no incidents or negative reaction.  As a matter of fact, many who were driving stopped their cars to show support.  A few actually joined the marchers.  Folk came out of restaurants and bars to show support.  The Los Angeles Police picked up the rear to undergird the marchers progress as they went through the streets.


HERE IS OUR PHOTO ESSAY FROM 

LOS ANGELES PROTEST RALLY – DAY 18

George Floyd Protests – Scenes from Los Angeles


[Los Angeles, CA – Day 9]  Activism is nothing new to me, at least that’s what I want to think!  Today marked the 9th day since the murder of George Floyd and after jockeying my schedule I ran out of excuses of why I could not be on hand to document the important rally scheduled at 3pm..

 

You’ve all seen the protest which followed ex-policeman Chauvin pulling a rare move most of us haven’t seen – putting his knee of the neck of George Floyd, while he had been restrained and in hand-cuffs. The cous de gras was Chauvin’s bold move to comfortable place his hand in his pocket while cutting off Floyd’s air flow.  Most of you saw what we all saw and perhaps that inspired you to raise your voice and join the movement?

 

I was trying to remember when was the last time I saw a reaction of this magnitude?  I go back to 2000 when I was fortunate to travel to Chiapas, Mexico to get a first-hand glimpse of supporters of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista movement.  The revolutionaries rose up against the government while loudly proclaiming – BASTA!!!!!!

 

The reaction from Floyd’s murder seems a bit different.  We’ve heard that refrain from members of the media who have been reporting the events   One of the major protests today centered at the Hall of Justice (County of Los Angeles) at the steps of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office.  As I was driving to secure a parking spot, I could see a flurry of participants head towards Temple & Broadway.  Signs in tote it was quite a sight.  I just knew this was different from the many events I have attended/participated in.

The crowd swelled to easily 10,000 plus.  The event was well organized and despite the Covid-19 pandemic we are dealing with folk had mask and other protection.   Folk were walking the line dispatching out water, squirts of hand-sanitizer, snacks and even first-aid stations so you could maintain your energy.  Their focus was maintaining a safe environment to insure the message of change was front & center.

 

A very interesting dynamic that I witnessed was the demographic of the crowd.  I would guestimate the primary ages ranged from 20 – 40.  The ethnic composition was what you would expect from Los Angeles.  It was exceptionally diverse.  The take-away from today’s event as well as those which have taken place since Floyd’s life was cut short is will the energy and commitment get translated into serious civic engagement – VOTING?  For all the signs and images of being fed-up, will the people have the courage to leverage their voice and create the change they are seeking?


HERE IS MY PHOTO ESSAY FROM TODAY’S

LOS ANGELES PROTEST RALLY

 

The etiquette of Protesting: Respect or outright lack of Respect?


Students attending school are required to take United States history in the eighth grade.  The basic curriculum is intended to provide the fundamentals of how our government was created and how it has transitioned through the years.   Sadly, not everyone who took the class received a passing grade.  Or, perhaps they did at the time but as years have gone by they may have forgotten the basic tenets of what they learned, especially the facts of the United States constitution?

 

Protesting is a basic and fundamental privilege of citizenship. 

 

Protesting is a basic right covered in the first amendment.  It is very clear.  There is never a right time to protest.  The primary intent of protest is to raise awareness.  In doing so, some may feel institutions, symbols or things they view as sacred are being disrespected.  That is a false premise, especially with the Colin Kaepernik and the current NFL’s reaction.

Protest is meant to be disruptive.   Protesting is often non-violent, but it is not to be confused as a courteous gesture or something where the protestor’s say “excuse me.”

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment of the United States Constitution

 

 

Is Trump allowing Puerto Rico to be his “Katrina”?

 

The Colin Kaepernick protest started over a year ago.  Just this past week it picked up steam as Donald Trump felt it was his duty to admonish the NFL teams for showing support for Kaepernick and disrespecting the flag, the anthem and anything else determined by him to be patriotic.

 

 

In doing so, sadly Trump demonstrated his sheer ignorance of the first amendment.  His public outcry was done and played out while Puerto Rico and victims of the recent hurricanes are in desperate need for government intervention.    He has been stubborn to understand the genesis of the protest and instead has insisted the narrative he created is the truth; the protest disrespects the flag, the anthem and the military.

Worse, this week he and his administration have taken to the airwaves to report how well the recovery is going, specifically in Puerto Rico.  Unfortunately, reporters on the ground and spread over the island have been in stark contradiction to the administration’s assessment.

“They require policy guidance from the president on what he wants them to do,” Honore said while reacting to the administration’s slow response time. “I think that’s where the gap is. Should have been moving the military last Saturday, the president was out playing golf and twittering.” Lt.Colonel (retired) Russell Honoree

The question begs for many?  With human life at stake, why in the world is Trump so focused on the NFL and the player protest?  Yet, while he claims such patriotism, he has never served in the military and has taken glee in criticizing and making derogatory comments about those who indeed have served or who have lost loved ones while in military service!

Is this a diversion?   Has Trump found yet another wedge issue where people lose focus on his lack of legislative success?   Is it a coincidence that the majority of NFL players are African-American and the obvious factor of race is quite clear?  Football is a game.  The current situation in Puerto Rico is real life.  People have short memories but they tend to remember who was in office during natural disasters.    They remember their actions, as well as their inactions.

 

After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.  Colin Kaepernik, August 29, 2016

 

Facts get in the way

 

Whatever motivation Trump felt to unleash his tirade against the NFL players or his insistence to go on twitter spewing irritation of the protestor’s actions, history will be the ultimate judge.  The United States is replete with examples of those who staged protest and at the time suffered tremendous public scorn.  Yet, as time elapsed and their actions were better understood they took on martyrdom status and many are in the annals of historic figures.

 

The notion of Kaepernick disrespecting the flag might be a plausible conclusion or might make sense and convince the most patriotic person he is subject to treason.?   This becomes truer for those who support Trump and his ideology.  They refuse to accept anything contrary to what they believe, or have been told by Trump that it is the truth.  The problem and this is where so many who blindly follow others leave you shaking your head; Kaepernick got the suggestion to kneel and continue his protest from a decorated Green Beret, Nate Boyer!!!!  Now how patriotic can that be?  Kaepernick headed his advice and to the chagrin of many, to this day, they have a very positive relationship.  Why is this important?  Because Boyer has a better understanding of the privileges of the first amendment better than Trump or those like him who feel it is okay to dismiss this basic fact.  Why do they dismiss this fact?  It appears the narrative does not jive with the way they see things.

“Until that flag represents what it is meant to represent, ” Colin Kaepernick, August 29, 2016

Homework assignment

For Trump and those who support his position I would plead they do some homework and understand what and why was Colin Kaepernick protesting in the first place?   To be generous they will be given one week to turn in their assignment.  LOL.  Second, they must study protest movements and get a handle of the strategies used in protest movements?   Again, protest is not meant to be comfortable.  However, as mentioned many are very peaceful.

 

Who qualifies as the protest police?

Who among us can claim to be the authority on acceptable protest?  Donald Trump?  The Military?  Further, who can dictate which symbols we allegedly treasure within our society that are off-limits to protest?

While there are many traditions within our society that we treasure, over the years and surely with the Kaepernick incident those on the opposite side of whichever issue is being protest swear outright disrespect and crying foul by interpreting the actions as unacceptable.

The genesis of the Kaepernik protest

What is ironic is it appears the very people claiming the flag, the anthem or even the military is being trampled care very little of why Kaepernick protest in the first place.  If they did care, surely their position may be changed as why they still may have a problem with what they view as a sacred symbol, in the final analysis they would have to conclude Kaepernick and all those who took a knee or didn’t take a knee, stood or didn’t stand, clap or didn’t clap are well within the protections of our constitution.

Donald Trump takes great pride as a successful businessperson.  Some might conclude he is a master manipulator.  He appears to relish in the notion of speaking for “the America people.”   Perhaps, but over the past several years it has been documented his commentary is strategic in creating a divide.  Oftentimes the divide is on racial lines or to stoke discontent among various groups.    Yet, as mentioned those who support his ideology are swayed by the rhetoric being fomented and have been conditioned to marginalize any other perspective.

 

The Bottom-line

All you have to know is a person has the right to protest and does not require approval or permission! 

It is also your right or reaction to dismiss or despise the method of a person’s protest.  Just because you don’t approve of the method of protest, does not mean you are right and the protestor is wrong.  The first amendment gives protection for both positions.

 

It can’t be stressed enough, assuming you are truly seeking an objective analysis on protest that it you feel the person is protesting something you hold sacred, it is your right to not support them.  Period!  But, you must be very careful in maligning them as in the end, you wind up trying to dictate behavior.  So, you can’t claim allegiance to the Constitution while refusing the basic core of protest.