As I mentioned in my earlier post on Saturday, it was an intense morning.
I’m going to forgo the article links tonight so I can share my experience and photos.
This morning at about 9:30, my daughter and I went down to the Ohio Statehouse. Since we live in Columbus, it’s only about 15 minutes from our home to downtown and Capital Square.
The rally was to stand up for justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and so many other black men and women who have been killed by police officers.
My 16 year-old daughter and I – both privileged white people – went to march and speak out against white supremacy. Too many white people have stayed silent in the face of the violence against our fellow human beings.
My sign references a national group with which I am affiliating. This is a growing group of white people of all ages who are getting increasingly engaged in the civil rights struggles of our present moment.
I noticed three important things on Saturday morning.
First, the protesters were over all quite young. It seemed there were more teens and twenty-somethings than the typically older people in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s that I’ve seen at other protests and rallies since the 2016 presidential election.
Second, the vast majority of the protestors were white people. I think this is important visually to show the nation that more and more of us recognize that the racism and violence directed against our black brothers and sisters must stop now.
Finally, as I hope you notice in all of the photos here, that almost 100% of those rallying today were wearing cloth face coverings or masks. And we wore them in ways which would protect others from contagion as we chanted and waved our signs.
We left for home at about 11:30. When we arrived at home a little after twelve, we learned that the Columbus Police, who had been keeping a fairly low profile while my daughter and I were marching, began to use force against protestors – including tear gas and pepper spray.
I felt that the peaceful marchers I saw were set up for conflict with the police by the way we were NOT permitted to gather to express our First Amendment rights.
As I mentioned, I’ve been to a dozen or so rallies at the Ohio Statehouse since 2016. For every one of these, we gathered in the wide square in front of the building and even on the steps leading up to the doors.
Here are two previous rallies to give you an idea of how these typically work at the Statehouse:
But on Saturday, that square was closed, presumably b/c a much smaller group of protestors on Thursday night broke a number of the windows (which were boarded up today)
By not having this large square in which to congregate on Saturday morning, we were forced to be out on the sidewalks. But there were so many protestors that staying on the not particularly wide sidewalks was nearly impossible. So relatively few people had to be a little bit into the street.
Around noon, from what I read and saw in videos, the police didn’t try to calmly direct people to walk close to the curb or on the sidewalk. Rather, they immediately used tear gas and pepper spray on people.
Our U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty was marching and trying to help people stay on the curb and out of the street. And she and the Columbus City Council President both got hit with the pain-inducing spray.
Rep. Beatty is the woman with the silver hair and the backpack in the left of the photo.
Notice the cop who is spraying the woman on the ground to the right. He hits her from maybe a foot away – while she is on the ground and NOT resisting!
There a dramatic GIF of this violence at this Twitter feed – https://twitter.com/KRobPhoto
Plus, there is video and photo documentation of other times since Thursday the Columbus Police used excessive force on protestors.
It’s late and I need to wrap this up. I’m glad I went today as I witnessed much good and many things about which to be hopeful.
I’m glad though that my daughter and I weren’t still there to experience first-hand what excessive force looks like and feels like.
This has to change as violence – when inflicted by citizens and especially when it’s excessively used by the police – only leads to more violence, less peace, and greater oppression.