"It's not going to happen overnight. We need to be better and we need to be faster [at addressing systemic injustice and prosecuting guilty cops]." See that statement along with others made by Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson at the Lost Coast Outpost. Last Sunday, 5/31/2020 it seemed as if there was an organized attempt at bringing local police and the community together in solidarity; to protest the murder of George Floyd.
I was there at the protest on Saturday, and admittedly I wasn't there Sunday because I became concerned with an emerging pattern of aggression by some protestors. That night there were also discussions on Facebook about what others saw both online and during the demonstration; described as tactics the organizers were using to push their own agenda effectively whitewashing the protest for their own interest.
I was watching live video feeds on a dedicated browser at home..
The black brown and indigenous communities of Humboldt showed up strong on Sunday, realigning the focus of the protest to address systemic racial oppression as it should be, calling on one another to use their words during a vigil for George Floyd. Protesters had a chance to speak one by one in front of the crowd at the courthouse, and then after going over some safety precautions everyone marched together towards the police station.
You would think what happened next was planned, but after reaching out to Black Humboldt and Chief Steve Watson I learned that what happened outside of the police station evolved completely in the moment. The fact of the matter is that a majority of people there wanted the demonstration to be peaceful. That in no way means that protesters are not fed up and angry, they're tired of dealing with a system that consistently takes more than it gives.
What happened between demonstrators and police outside the police department was nothing short of amazing. Humboldt Grassroots, Black Humboldt, and the Eureka Police Department all deny organizing the meeting. According to Steve Watson, police were monitoring the protest when they saw the crowd marching towards the station. They decided to "take the risk" by meeting protesters with their words, instead of full defense posture.
I don't know if I've ever seen such strong dialogue with authority figures go this well. Everyone involved rose to the challenge that is remaining somewhat composed during a very tense and necessary protest. We witnessed multiple protesters yelling directly at police sharing their thoughts, respectfully both to keeping the peace and more importantly to their feelings being honest enough to say what's really on their mind.
Outside the police station people were outraged, yelling over the police who were trying to express their solidarity. Some of the protesters tried to get the others to listen, eventually succeeding by chanting LET THEM USE THEIR WORDS. When the police were allowed to speak, you can hear sheriff Honsal saying "Thank you for coming to our door, we hear you, we appreciate... NO JUSTICE NO PEACE, NO RACIST POLICE!" For a moment everybody began chanting together, it honestly made me cry.
Though the energies would sway back and fourth through out the experience, attendees were able to maintain a mostly peaceful equilibrium. It seems everyone wants to build trust between our community and police officers. Opening the lines of communication is just a start. We want to work together to verify that our local police are not going to subject minority community members to segregation, injustice, and oppression.
I believe the EPD support for the protest is genuine. Chief Watson even liked my Facebook status which called for the demonstrations to persist until all four officers are prosecuted, and until we see meaningful changes. It doesn't fix anything, all he did was signal agreement, but it's a good sign - and persist they have. I believe we should keep organizing until we reach maximum transparency regarding everyone's feelings about current events, as they occur.
Today people received the opportunity to say things like, "The reason we became violent is because we tried being peaceful, and IT DIDN'T WORK!" They discussed the broken criminal justice system and how it is built to profit off of oppression. The police chief can be heard saying that he recognizes how so many police have lost their way, and that we need to hire according to the values our community shares.
All of our officers who spoke, firmly wanted people to know that they see themselves as tasked with keeping the peace. But protesters need all of us to listen more than anything,. Especially right now as we stand in solidarity for yet another person who's life ended in a conflict involving abuse of power. Truly we all need to take a step back and reconnect with our communities; we all need to reconnect with respecting one another.
One of the protesters brought up the conflicts of the night before. Someone was hit by a Jeep, and there were some clashes with police. Chief Watson responded, "I have so much respect for that. We desperately did not want that to happen, we seriously genuinely did everything we could to not let that happen last night." The police wanted to be in solidarity with the protesters, but have a duty to protect our towns peace and property.
Though a majority agreed they prefer the peaceful demonstration as opposed to violent uprising, that didn't stop people from calling on each other. "We're here today united as one people, as one people we're here we have the power of that unity, and nothing could break that if we say we're not going to let them break that!" The words are strong, and appropriate in the big picture of things I genuinely agree with what this person is saying.
They go on..
"We have to be critical, now more than ever we have to be critical we need to be thinking about our actions, because we are facing a systematic destruction of our way of life. We need to be critical about how we are speaking to these people because we know that they have never been on our side, they have never. We see them saying they're proud of us, WHY? How? Why would theses people be proud of us when they're out here killing us?"
The live video reporter yells "They're liars! Professional liars!" The speaker responds, "They're liars! They're all liars. They work for the system that gets paid to destroy us, and we need to remember that. We need to remember that they're criminals, they're criminals! They're locking us up in cages and they're killing us for profit. So what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do, we got all of this energy here today, what are we gonna do?"
"We must be critical, before anything else we need to think.. I don't have any answers, if we had the answers it'd already be done. Right? but We need to think, we need to question what people are saying, 'doesn't matter?' We need to question our words. I'm up on this stage as another human being, I'm no higher or lower than any of you here. There's a movement that has spanned across this country, across this nation. It's across the globe.."
"This moment may never come again so please be careful with how we act, think critically. As though I stand with y'all, I love each and every one of you. You're my brothers, my sisters, my siblings, my cousins, my aunties, my uncles, you are my people. We are people who stand here as one, don't let them take that from us. Don't let them take that from us no matter what the media says, don't let them take that from us. Black Lives Matter!"
The police were listening, and I want to believe that here in our community they really do want to not only keep the peace but protect the Humboldt County way of life. I'm not going to name the speaker out of respect though I'd like to meet them. I believe they did really great at speaking for the collective human tribe in that everything which was said is justifiable. Many people still feel as another protestor stated, "We will not stop fighting, we will not be silenced, but we really do want everybody to make it home safe and sound." I couldn't say enough as a writer to really highlight the power of this moment, I believe everyone who showed up on Sunday made history. It wouldn't be honest if I didn't mention the clashes between protesters and police later on that evening. What I heard is that a small amount of people were throwing over trash cans while others were picking them up. Police ended up stepping in to arrest someone who broke a window, before other protesters intervened and pepper balls were administered into the crowd...
Police responded by shooting pepper balls, injuring one persons ear and hitting two officers. The 101 North was then blocked for quite some time, obviously this situation was never over anyway since we still have a lot of work to do. Please recognize that I wasn't there at that time either. I watched the live video from home and felt called to share with you here. But more importantly I want to attempt to get anyone reading this to focus on what protesters are actually saying.
AIN'T NO POWER LIKE THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE CAUSE THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE DON'T STOP. I sincerely think everyone needs to take an hour or so out of their day to carefully watch and listen to this live stream below. Our community is setting a great example of a peaceful, brutally honest demonstration of the uprising! I haven't been sleeping very well since, I know I need to find a way to help support the developing dialogue between our local law enforcement and minority communities, all people of Humboldt.
Thanks to Real News Network for the Live Feed
No Thanks to Facebook for eventually deleting the video..
Communication is likely the key to healthy relationships. I've realized since writing this that to help boost the voices of the black brown and indigenous communities, it will require mostly listening. Moe Factz runs a great podcast about the race conversation in the United States for anyone ready to listen. He's always reminding us one of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
I am honored to promote some resources for our community at the bottom of this post.
I'm thankful to have spent all week writing this because today I saw that the North Coast Journal published a speech transcript spoken by Black Humboldt crew member, Mo Desir. I've decided to wrap this blog up with a few quotes from Mo's speech on June 1st, and an attempt at using my place of privilege to echo some of her statements that make sense to me. I think it is really important for me to learn something from this post and experience.
The main thing I'm learning is to listen to people's frustrations, and think critically about what they're saying so that I can learn from their perspective. I don't think it's time for me to relay the messages just yet, but I will say that I deeply support the dialogue forming, and wish programs that allow people to safely speak and act will keep developing in our community and across the nation.
I've long believed in the example set by Humboldt County, CA!
It may just be that many of us are more concerned about the current state of our socio-economic political systems than we are willing to admit, because many of us don't know what to do. I sincerely believe that deep down, we all have good ideas and a story worth sharing. I support what Mo Desir is saying, and will gladly promote the resources I've found for events being organized by Black Humboldt. If we can create a safe space for other perspectives to be heard, maybe we can inspire the changes that are long overdue.
You can see the websites of all who helped make this happen here below:
Black Humboldt will be hosting a series of self care workshops and virtual events to give black voices somewhere to discuss their experiences together, as well has learn health and wealth tips to implement in their daily lives. https://www.blackhumboldt.com/
See Black Humboldt's event flyer to get a sense for their events of the future, click to see their event page..
Humboldt Mutual Aid brought medical supplies, food water and tea, pop up tents, and deescalation specialist to Sunday's protest.
Steve Watson has been speaking about a lot of good, and the community hears him though it is still his turn to listen to the community. I hope to help get the message across, and will be suggesting ideas to him and his department such as a town hall style; asking community members to record themselves talking to him for 60 seconds each so that he can listen to each of us and respond considerately with words or actions.
Sheriff Honsal came to the scene Sunday after Steve Watson called on him to stand in unity, ready to talk, perhaps it is the Sheriffs duty to relay and organize other police units in our county to follow suit. We look to our leaders in all communities to be an example by really doing the work to show their support and willingness to reform, as well as we must take up our part in leadership.
A friend of mine is going to be helping the NAACP, and Black Unions here locally, he's requested that I ask people to sign up for the NAACP Eureka chapter. I will provide the link to the form, and the website in case there's trouble with downloading the pdf.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped Sunday evolve into what it did, you've inspired me to really dive in and learn as much as I can about racial tension in the US. I think the catalyst for me was to see what I feel is a possibility for coming together and reforming the system. I know that actions bring results, and I believe that when we live by our word the truth will set us free.
I hope documenting the experience will help hold the police accountable, as they've asked us to do, and also show others around the world that it is possible to bring about real change. One of my friends I consulted with over writing this blog mentioned to me that his "one buddy always says to [him, [about Vietnam protest]] 'Why did we all go home?'" I think that resonates with many of our feelings about current protests.
Does anyone really have the answers? (Please comment if you do)
Keep demonstrating, developing ways to create a dialogue peacefully, and leave only space for action. Hope that we get transparency during the investigation of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyds death. Keep demonstrating until we see all four officers prosecuted along with meaningful changes in society. Keep speaking up about your feelings. Do Not let collective amnesia smooth this over, we stand united, please help share this story to get the word out.
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Here is an outline of some follow up blogs I'd like to write next, any help is appreciated:
What measures have been taken by the police department, how are those measures standing the test of time and what's their plan to move forward?
What kinds of practices were developed at Standing Rock during DAPL protest, was it a success, how can we learn from the situation?
The Melting Pot, how our US mono-culture waivers between being a beacon of hope for the world and a trap for those effected by wealth inequality and systemic racism.
Events and interviews featuring people of color as they organize empowering programs in the community, also would love to connect with someone who is interested in helping me share their voice on this platform as a Connector.
We'll see what I can learn, because as much as I know my job is to promote the productive interest of others, I sincerely believe Rhapsodic Global can bring about change by supporting people in their passions and productive interest. I want this platform to inspire positive changes in society. I invite others to join me no matter who they are, I just ask to get to know them a little and assure we are aligned with our site mission to create a common interest in each others' success.
Thanks again for inspiring me to be the best person I can be, I am not perfect but will do my best to support the best person we can be in all of us, each unique and beautiful as we are.
This blog is about Humboldt County's Peaceful Protest response to the the murder of George Floyd, live video is by Jesse with Real News Network, written by Anthony DeLuca of AnthonyJosephDeLuca.com, and donated to be promoted on RhapsodicGlobal.org!