Today was different. There was joy along with the anguish and anger of other marches from the past two weeks. It was more than that, too. I felt connected to everyone else marching today like I’ve never felt at previous marches. As one woman’s simple sign said: “Beauty in Unity.”
No “imminent danger” or emergency declaration necessary.
“We want reform. We want trust. We want transparency. We want truth.”
There were no guns. There were no thugs. There was no violence.
Two days after Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney declared a state of emergency in advance of the JuneTeenth March for Justice organized by Black Lives Matter – Fargo/Moorhead (BLM-FM) because of what he called “imminent danger” for the community, there was only peaceful protest and a march from Island Park to Fargo (N.D.) City Hall and back.
Above all, there was solidarity among the 300-350 people who, in the words of one event organizer, “showed up, showed out” to commemorate Juneteenth, protest police brutality and talk about justice for black people and other people of color in Fargo.
Trump, his cronies and enablers want us to believe “Antifa” has been causing all the damage since George Floyd’s death. Yeah, that’s bullshit.
Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.
If there were Old North Churches in cities across the United States, their steeples would have shone brilliantly over the past fortnight, signaling “One if by land, two if by sea.” But not for British soldiers, as in Paul Revere’s time; this time around, the warnings would have been about an Antifa invasion.
As protests, riots and over-militarized law enforcement responses played out in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a White Minneapolis police officer, alerts flashed out via social media like sparks from a towering oak struck by lightning.
Antifa is bussing in agitators and counter protesters to stir up trouble and start riots, went the fiery bursts from people around the country, including the inept occupant of the Oval Office himself.
Rumor, innuendo and baiting have been ruling social media throughout the ongoing upheaval. People appear to feel they are in the right when decrying violence and property damage by “outside agitators.” They seem to be saying, collectively, “This isn’t anyone from our city. Blame the outside extremists!”
The “outside agitator” narrative seems intended to distract people from the bigger picture, the cause and effect, the true meaning of what’s really going on. It’s not a new tactic. Google “history of outside agitator” and read some of the results from reliable sources, like this one from The New York Times.
Speaking of news media, they, too, have been rife with reports of “Antifa-led” agitation, counter protesting and violence. There are all kinds of problems with that, but here’s the most basic and obvious:
Black men still swing from trees; White men still put them underknee.
Listen, fellow citizens. Listen.
A 1939 song of protest and rage resonates today, in 2020:
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” – Lyrics and music by Abel Meeropol, recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. Listen.
Judgements are being tossed about like tear gas canisters launched into crowds of people.
Peaceful protesters are good. Rioters are bad. Police are good. Police are bad. Police should use whatever force is necessary to clear protesters/rioters, including lethal force. Property damage is counter-productive. Police are instigating violent reactions. Left-wing extremists are agitating protesters. Right-wing extremists are agitating protesters. The extremists want chaos and revolution.
On and on.
As we share thoughts and opinions about the murder of George Floyd and who is doing what, and as we debate the good and bad of peaceful protests, violent riots and all the complex, related issues in the wake of Floyd’s death, I suggest we keep this gruesome pair of visions before our minds’ eyes:
Bloody tree, bloody black body swinging in the breeze.
Black man on the pavement, white police officer kneeling on his neck.
There was a peaceful march in my city, Fargo, N.D., on the morning and afternoon of May 30. Black Lives Matter organized the protest to remember Floyd, a Black man murdered at the hands (knees) of White police officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, and to draw attention to ongoing, systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.