“It is not enough to be quietly non-racist, now is the time to be vocally anti-racist.” – Unknown
The protests brought upon countless emotions for many people this week, since Friday. As a minority, mixed race, I have experienced racism and have been a passionate activist of truth since I was a child. When I watched the televised news about them in Los Angeles something didn’t feel accurate. The focus was primarily on those who were destroying businesses, looting and setting buildings aflame while the purpose of the protests was drowning in the unrelated violence. Thus, I decided to go where the action was, on both the protests and violent aspects, and see it for myself. The experience was powerful and unifying as well as chaotic and disappointing. What was most distinct was the fact that the protestors and the looters were almost always at least a street apart from one another. The police would go after peaceful protestors as though they were the looters, but they were in completely different areas. On the side of the criminal activity and enraged riots it was devastating. I saw people being stabbed, blood spilled on the streets, piles of broken glass sprawled everywhere, fireworks thrown into buildings setting them aflame. More interesting of all was listening to what they were saying as they were stealing. Most complained that this was their way of dealing with the lack of support from the government during this depression and COVID crisis. They would yell “F the Government” and “F the Banks” almost as a completely different protest against the power and corruption of the government. Yes, there were groups/gangs that clearly had a plan in their thievery, lookouts and guidance as to avoid cops. But, there were also just people who were opportunists and took this as a way to obtain things because the opportunity presented itself, almost as if to compensate themselves for their losses in this financial crisis. You could tell there were different groups because of the chaos; people were crawling all over each other, punching one another, trampling, yelling. For the first few protests the cops were completely inept and could not tell the difference between looters and protestors, for some reason. Treating both like criminals. Cops would surround the areas and begin to fill busses (transit busses at first due to the number of arrests) with civilians, looters and protesters alike.
The peaceful protestors somehow got mistaken as the looters in many cases, but they would just walk together holding signs “I can’t breathe” or “Justice in the system” and so forth. Fireworks were occasionally used by protestors, which was confusing because that was the common connection between protestors and looters. It got intense for the protestors. The cops would throw grenades, sound grenades, they shot at protestors with rubber bullets covered in metal as well as bean-bag bullets of which knocked out several protesters. The protestors would say “please don’t shoot! this is a peaceful protest” and did not aggravate officers other than asking to move forward when they were blocked off. At times bottles of water would be thrown, but the protest organizers would not encourage that. Batons were used frequently, police men and women were also enraged. In my opinion, the Army did not need to come through had they police focused just on the criminal acts and left the protestors be. They were a mess when it came to handling the looters. The protestors truly were peaceful, I observed over 5 different protests this week in different parts of LA so that I was able to see and report the truth. Something strange occurred though. The curfew was put into place, Army men swarmed the street along-side the police, and those who were once just peaceful protestors would now be deemed lawbreakers in the eyes of curfew. To most of the peaceful protestors the curfew felt like a direct attack at their mission and the movement itself, because they knew they were not doing anything wrong. So they continued to protest after curfew in order to bring awareness to the movement, not to commit any sort of crime. Let it be known, many peaceful protestors were arrested before curfew for absolutely no reason. Many cops were violent toward peaceful protestors, when they needed to be focusing on the violence of those who were plundering the streets. Cops of course were abrasive to the looters as well, and the force in which they treated people was severe. When peaceful protestors were arrested they did not resist. The organized groups for the protestors constantly told the attendees not to throw anything at the police, to be kind, and to chant different powerful mantras of peace and racial equality. Also, I noticed every time I tried to post anything while in the peaceful protests areas, the signal would be completely gone or at one bar. This is usually due to cell blockers which is something that does exist in the military. Between all this were the civilians and reporters documenting the looting and violence as well, of whom mostly did not get too mixed up with either side or joined peaceful protesting as they documented.
My hope is that this situation brings awareness to the lack of racial equality in society and the clear immoral acts toward minorities. From what I saw, I can say that there was immense misunderstanding and I know that the reason for racial inequality in most cases is a lack of communication. When people feel censored or as though they are not listened to, they feel communication is no longer possible and so physical action is all that is left. Yes, there has been justice for Floyd in that the police involved have been arrested and are facing punishment, but the racial profiling, disrespect, and inequality doesn’t stop there. It stops when we truly support one another and communicate the issues without fear of being ridiculed for stating how we feel. This has touched more than just the US, it has brought awareness to equality issues across the globe among all shades of skin and types of belief systems. Racism, bigotry, prejudice, cultural appropriation, etc. are all a lack of embracing the diversity of humanity. It was never about not seeing color or about realizing we are all human, but rather it is about embracing and respecting our differences to support one another. It’s about a moral compass and following our conscience which would never allow such disrespect.