How to Be Safe From Protests: Join Them
This video I took while marching in the Ferguson protests in Oakland contains one of the most memorable and important moments of my life- a young organizer begging his fellow protesters not to intimidate and frighten a trapped white businessman.
“We’re not going to let each other be split apart. That’s what they want us to do. They want us to fight each other. But we’re not!” he told his friends. They listened to him, and an ugly situation was averted.
Chances are, you’ve read more than one piece of media urging you to be afraid of the thuggish protesters. My fiance’s friend’s store was broken into and looted. I saw the window of Chase Bank get broken when I was marching. I’m not glossing over anything, here. And keeping yourself “safe” is important.
But this “safety” issue is more complex than you might think. As frightened as we are…. think how much more frightened black people must be, raising kids that might be shot down by the very people who are supposed to “protect and serve.” (“Who are you protecting?” the protesters cried. “Who are you serving?”)
So how do we keep ourselves safe, my friends? Do we lock ourselves away in our towers, behind layers of security? Do we vote to further militarize the police? Do we avoid “rough” areas? Do we board up our windows, lock our doors, avoid talking to “rough” people?
The aggression we express as middle-class white people is usually delegated, kept at a safe remove, so we don’t have to deal with the ugliness. It is legal and backed up by this whole blocked fortress of power. But that doesn’t make it right.
DON’T LET THEM SPLIT US APART. Aggression doesn’t keep us safe. Fear will not keep us safe. The only thing that will keep us safe is to trust and believe and keep faith in one another.
As the protesters’ sign said, “Love.” As their voices shouted, “Justice.” And without these things, no number of guns and walls and regulations and helicopters will ever keep us safe.
The only way to be safe, is to call out for the safety of your brother & sister Americans.