After the murder of two unarmed black men by police officers, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations started again throughout America. The mass shooting in Dallas by a former soldier brought nothing but blood, but it has not stopped people from protesting in the streets each night in the major U.S. cities.
In most cases, the protests are held in a peaceful manner, but not in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where police killed Alton Sterling. The images coming from there have been symbolic and are similar to those seen in Ferguson and Baltimore: a peaceful demonstration of African-Americans faced by a police force armored and armed for war. Images of real repression, such as the policewoman who was advancing toward the protesters toting an automatic weapon pointed at head height; or a girl stopped at the corner of a street thrown to the ground and kicked as she was being handcuffed by a police officer while another one held her.
Mica Grimm, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, born in Minnesota where the murder of Philandro Castile took place, says the dynamics of the BLM protests have changed in the last year because those who protest today know it is enough to show themselves in public to be charged. DeRay Mckesson thinks the same. Perhaps the most well-known activist of Black Lives Matter, he was arrested last night in Baton Rouge because while protesting, he stepped off the curb.
“What they are doing now is trying to scare us” said Mckesson after being released from 16 hours in jail. “They want people to be afraid to express themselves and stop protesting in the streets.”
To be visible while taking fewer risks, events often take place by blocking highways, a common practice of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is akin to the Black Lives Matter movement but mainly composed of whites. OWS takes over a ring road to have more political and media visibility; BLM does it to avoid being massacred by the police.
Those who protest with BLM do so for survival and will not stop because they are terrorized by a brutal power that, at least potentially, can affect them every day. Not to detract from the sacrosanct demands of OWS, but the African Americans in the streets of America are asking for nothing less than to stop being senselessly killed by the police; what drives them to protest is staying alive.
In the last few nights, the repression of demonstrations (all peaceful demonstrations) were the most violent in the two states where the two African Americans were killed last week, Louisiana and Minnesota. In Dallas, where the police chief is a person with good human and civil sense, the chain reaction that was feared could happen did not occur after the killing of five policemen.
So it seems this is a problem not of some force of nature but of men, which means it can be solved by changing the leaders. That’s what is happening in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Chief Bill Bratton know they can’t afford another Eric Garner case and gave well-defined and prosaic guidelines.
In a statement from Poland, Obama called on police and demonstrators to respect each other’s lives. He cut his trip short and flew back on Tuesday to attend the funeral of the slain police officers in Dallas.
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