Monday, November 24, 2014

Hands Up! Don’t Shoot, Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter: Verdict in NYC

  photo by e. mcgregor



We’d heard all weekend that this was going to blow any day.
This is going to blow people declared.

 Top Istanbul and bottom scenes after the verdict. by Jenna Pope. 

By Monday, we started hearing that that maybe just maybe this really was the day we were going to get the verdict for Darren Wilson, who fatally shot unarmed Michael Brown.



For weeks we’d been planning the bike bloc.

BIKE BLOC FOR JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL BROWN, ERIC GARNER, AKAI GURLEY

Organized by Public Space Party and Bike Bloc NYC in support of Union Square rally.
#FTP #PSP #BikeBlocNYC #ferguson #mikebrown #ericgarner #akaigurley

NOTE: DAY is still TBD

What: Bike Bloc for Justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner

When: TBD, expected to be mid-November.

Where: Union Square Park South, NYC

Time: 6 PM, we will ride together to rally at Union Square

Grand juries are hearing evidence in the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. On the day that each of these grand juries announces their decision, whatever those decisions are, we will take to the streets all across the country.


Bring Your Bike!


RIP Eric Garner

RIP Michael Brown

RIP Akai Gurley

RIP Sean Bell

RIP Kimani Gray

We were supposed to have a meeting and prop making session.  But instead, the bike block would meet at Tompkins Square Park and then move ride to Union Square Park.  Police helicopters flew over head.



Arriving people were chanting and imani Henry was giving an interview.

This is a global struggle, explained Henry.



Turn Up! Turn Down, Do the Right Thing for Michael Brown.
Old Jim Crow, the Whole Damned System has got to go.



We were standing in protest pens on the North end of Union Square.  The south end of the park was filled with Christmas shopping. 


No justice! No Peace! Fuck the Police.

 I thought of Fuck thePolice, the song by NWA.  That was the music we all listened to when the police who beat Rodney King were facing charges, two decades prior.   They would later find their charges dropped. Police brutality cases are like ground hog day.  Same violence and lack of accountability over and over again. Few of us want vengeance, just some accountability. 

Michael Brown didn’t have to die.  We know the reason why. The whole damned system is guilty.
They say Jim crow.  We say hell no.

Turn it up, turn it down.  We do this for Michael Brown.
Being Back is not a crime.
We don’t need no cops pulling down the blocks, pulling violent stops.

Ferguson to NYC, we don’t need no police brutality.



My friend Stan had heard leaks that there would be no indictment. Not even a slap on the wrist.  Let them burn Ferguson others suggested. The helicopters flew over head.  



We spent hours n the Park talking as the hour of  the indictment was pushed back from 6 PM to 9.

The pain of that moment never quite recedes.  Yet sometimes we suffer from amnesia.  Others, we just forget before the next round of street actions, all so eerie and familiar. You think the worlds getting better, we’re getting closer and then we take step back.  That step back is so painful.
But the raw nerve it touches speaks to generations of pain, generations of lost kids, beaten dads, strange fruit hanging in the trees.  it connects our struggle with those.

At least the papers cover it, explained Stanley Aronowitz last Saturday.

The public space party converged at the northeast end of the Union Square to hear from the grant jury.  It all felt so familiar.



I’d like to see some direct action, not people saying they are going to shut it down, who don’t shut it down noted one young woman on hand.




None of us were surprised when we finally heard there would be no indictment.
Surreal to watch the space as everyone listened to their phones.
“No indictment,” people began to scream around 9:20 pm.


“Take to the streets,” others chimed in.
So we pushed through barricades and marched West.



Go West for there is no justice here Ida used to scream.  So we walked South and West, through streets, breaking police line after police line, scuffle after the scuffle with the police.

Some were screaming NYPD, KKK, who many kids have you killed today?
Others put their hands over their head, chanting “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”
“Black lives matter!” others screamed.



Looking at everyone, people from all over the city, person after person walking, their eyes turnng away, sad, heartbroken, angry, shocked, numb, remembering, feeling lonely, disappointed, let down, slapped, helpless.

Hands up, don’t shoot.



Police scooters zoomed to push us off the street as we walked, West to 6th Ave and then up to 42nd street.

Hands up, Don’t shoot.

Whose streets, our streets.



We walked up to 42nd street, where some of us broke off and made our way back home.  Some were detained.  Others rode and read responses to the verdict at home. And the band played on. There are so many marches.  But maybe just maybe the worlds starting to hear this.  But i'm not sure. But for our sakes, we can do better. We really can.  We have to. 

Whatever happens now, I hope this is the beginning of a counter cultural demand for accountability, from our government, each other and ourselves. 


The system is guilty. Marched in NYC with hundreds of peaceful, righteously angry people. One chant was "We're young, we're strong, we'll march all night long!" Starting to see more and more waves of powerfully mobilized youth who know you have to take the streets, you have to take direct action. Voting alone won't change this terrible racist system. Thank you. I am hopeful because of you. I hope to learn to be a good ally and work to undo this system...

So this is it, huh America? The time where we either watch the system stick two middle fingers up at us and carry on ... Or... Accept and admit the deplorable, violent racism and begin the deep, generations-long healing process.

"We know that any person's death diminishes all of us. We know that black lives matter too. We know that the lives of the poor matter, too. We know that people who may not look like us are still people with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, colleagues just like us. We know that all of us deserve to be treated with dignity and regard for our humanity. We will not be quiet, we will not sleep on the job, we will not turn a blind eye to injustice anywhere until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Our children deserve to live. Our children are worth more then a system that consistently fails them, whether it be the justice system in St. Louis or public schools in Pennsylvania. Black lives matter. All lives matter."