Personal experience going to a BLM protest
During the summer of 2020, a 9-minute video turned into one of the biggest civil unrests in history. Television screens displayed images of riots breaking out from all major cities in America. Fires, broken glass, and looting were the primary attributes of each scene.
Before the pandemic, I would walk through Downtown Dallas each day for 20 minutes to get to my job. While I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw videos of these protests going awry through the same streets I walked upon. People were throwing garbage cans through shop windows to break the glass, tear gas was thrown around, and cars were being jumped on. I couldn’t believe the city I walked through daily was being torn apart so relentlessly.
Despite my parents’ worries, I decided to go to a protest in Downtown Dallas with my friends. With all the hate and terror happening in the world, it felt important to take a step in the right direction and learn more about Black Lives Matter. This protest seemed like the perfect time to expand my knowledge and educate myself to see what I could do. Naturally, I got to see what the media wouldn’t show.
When my friends and I arrived at the peaceful protest, it was pretty lively. People milled about, carrying hand-made posters made with thought and care. Volunteers wandered around, passing water and snacks. Speakers bellowed out the lyrics to Where is the Love.
It wasn’t at all like what we saw on TV. People were angry, but there was no destruction of property or violence. Clusters of supporters were chanting say her name in honor of Breonna Taylor and I can’t breathe in honor of George Floyd. Once the main volunteers took to the stage to speak out about the cause, everyone listened and cheered on to what was being said.
Truthfully, I felt safe around everyone. What made me feel unsafe was the heavy police presence that guarded the bank buildings and the helicopters that were looming around. It was a bit unsettling knowing that it would take one person being dumb to shut this entire protest down. My friends and I agreed that if things got crazy, our game plan was to meet at where I parked.
Several booths were set up around the park for various needs. Some were dedicated to distributing out brochures and pamphlets that gave out resources to be proactive. Cards were passed out that showed a list of lawyers that could help in case you’ve been unjustly arrested/ridiculed by the police. Other booths had water and snacks to help us through the hot summer weather as we protested.
Again, no anger here. Everyone who attended or volunteered was there to spread kindness and awareness around. To add to that, when my friend fainted from dehydration, we had a flock of people come to help. Volunteer nurses came to aid her with attention and other protestors waved their posters as a fan to help cool my friend down. Even one of the paramedics waited with her while I grabbed my car to pick her up. Strangers teamed up to ensure my friend was taken care of, it was incredible
A new perspective
Between the acts of benevolence and the petitions I signed, I learned so much about the BLM cause. To those trying to argue that all lives matter, I encourage you to think about the meaning behind Black Lives Matter. Nowhere does it say black lives matter more, it’s simply a straightforward statement of fact that black lives matter too.
The fact is, black lives are in the most danger. Even now as I sit here and type this, I’m hearing about a young teenaged woman being shot dead by the police. That’s the 5th story I’ve heard this week about police brutality towards black people. There’s an evident flaw here in America’s police reform and it’s endangering black lives the most. So why not come together as a unified front to help curtail this from happening so often?
At the end of the day, the protest made me feel more proactive for being a part of a team instead of learning through a computer screen. Everyone was kind, peace was paramount, and hearing other people’s perspectives helped educate me better. I’m no expert, but I’m doing my best to be an advocate and an ally for my friends, to help enlighten those around me.