Black Lives Matter Protests in NYC and DC

Over the weekend in New York City and Washington, DC thousands of people marched in protest against racist police violence in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and so many others. The march in NYC, which I attended, was a multi-ethnic, multi-racial crowd of people from many different backgrounds. While there were folks there of all ages, the march was youth-led and organized, mostly through social media and with little to no money, as Linda Sarour observed on Twitter.

I took a bunch of photos that day, but lost them in an ill-timed software update on my phone. It’s just as well because none of my photos were as good as some of the others, like this one of a haunting series of posters of Eric Garner’s eyes.

Eric Garner's Eyes on protest signs

 (Image source: Joel Franco)

While estimates of the crowd in NYC varied widely (from 12,000 to 50,000), this amazing time-lapsed video taken at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 29th Street of the march in NYC gives you some idea of the scale of the protests:

The rallying cry for the march and the movement, is #BlackLivesMatter, which was created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, as a call to action following the murder of Trayvon Martin. Garza has authored a compelling piece at The Feminist Wire about the attempts at theft and co-opting a movement started by queer, women of color. Garza explains the deeply intersectional vision behind #BlackLivesMatter:

“Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all. Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”

This is a movement, not a moment, and on Saturday I was humbled to be able to walk as part of it. Today, I’m grateful that I’ve lived long enough to see the start of this movement.