Background: Learning About Government Repression in History Class
Some of the things I learned in class about race includes that race is taken seriously in this nation as long as it’s about white people. This nation is ruled by powerful white men who repress the lower class, such as the Black and Brown communities. This white system fears the Black and Brown communities as shown today and in the past. For instance, in the past, the government tried getting rid of some groups like the Black Panther Party, the Chicano Movement, and other groups. The government feared what these groups could have done, so they did everything in their power to neutralize the groups and make them look bad. Nowadays, with everything the police has been doing (i.e. taking away the lives of Black and Brown people), the two most feared black gangs in America have been making peace. The Bloods and the Crips have joined forces because they noticed they had a common enemy and they know the police are the ones who are supposedly there to “protect the people,” but are killing innocent people and actually getting away with it. Not to mention that the [mainstream] news has not brought this topic up.
April 14th Walkout: Weighing the Consequences
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The national plan for #ShutDownA14 called for walking out of schools and work, and stopping business as usual to protest police murder. This protest was happening all over the nation. Walking out was a big decision to make. I did not just make a decision overnight, but instead, I had to think about my decision for a whole month. I thought about all the good and bad things that would happen to me. I knew if I didn’t go to the protest, it would mean that I was okay with the police murdering innocent Black and Brown people. I did not want to show everyone I was not interested in the events that have been taking place, but there were potential punishments if I walked out. If I walked out and got in trouble, my whole future would be in jeopardy. With this in mind, I thought about how it was going to affect my grades for my second semester, since I had already missed more than 5 days of school (our school has threatened to take away course credit for missing too many classes in a semester). This also led to me thinking about how college was going to see my admission, because this could potentially have a big impact on my grades compared to my transcript from my first semester. Not to mention how my parents’ reaction would have been if I had gone to school and then just left and went to a protest where I could have gotten hurt and in trouble. As a final point, what was going through my head was arrest. I was thinking about the protest really hard, and I was thinking what would happen if I got arrested. That would have been on my record for the rest of my life and I did not want that action to affect any future job or make that kind of an impact to my life.
Fighting to Stop Police Murder
Even with a lot of concerns, I decided to walk out of school for #ShutDownA14, one of the greatest days of my life. On this day, I had a great time. It was fun; it was inspiring; I was being a rebel; and I was seeking to make change. During the day, I observed that there were many different types of people who went to 24th and Mission in San Francisco to stop police murder. We had people who were of different races, and most of the people in the crowd were teenagers who walked out of school in order to attend the protest. At the same time, there were people of all ages and social backgrounds out there. This made me happy to see that many people know that the police are committing a crime and that justice has not been served. Also just knowing that I feel the same frustration as many people about the police is empowering.
The whole event of shutting down business as usual on April 14th was worth it. We gave our message to the nation and the US government that the people have had enough with police murder of Black and Brown lives. The police observed our frustration as they were following the protesters trying to maintain “peace.” They were trying to keep us away from the police station and in city hall.
Even though the police were trying to maintain order ,there was absolutely no reason to be wearing their body armor, having shields and holding their batons in hand. Yes, the police have the right to protect themselves if they feel if their lives are at risk, but most of the protesters that day were teenagers. But how are we the protesters supposed to stay calm and not act out of our anger? We are already furious that the police are murdering innocent people and actually getting away with it. That day, the police were pushing us, cursing at us and threatening us with arrest. This of course made us angry, which led to us taking some action. They witnessed the youth standing up to them. We have had enough, and we the youth are the ones who are going to make a change. After all, we are the future, but the media fails to capture the truth.
On April 14th, a lot of news reporters came to record this important event. That night on the news, all the footage recorded on the protest was all about the negative actions made by the protesters. All it showed was broken glass, graffiti written in chalk; supposedly, the protest was disturbing traffic, and also the news never did talk about the purpose of that day or the things we achieved. It’s really amazing and ridiculous that the news reporters followed us all day and didn’t show the nation the very powerful, inspiring speeches made by the speakers and the students who stepped up to say a few words. Not to mention that a bunch of 16 through 19 year olds got past the police and took over city hall! In city hall this was something to be remembered: a lot of teenagers disrupted the seat of government for the city and county of San Francisco. We were making so much noise that we made it impossible for the people in the building to stay on task with their work. Instead of trying to portray the protesters as violent, the media should have shown how aggressive the officers were being with teenagers who were protesting peacefully.
There is something truly wrong with how this country is working. The police are the ones who should be protecting the people, but are slowly making a genocide for Black and Brown people. The media are not revealing the truth, and instead are just siding with the government since they have similar interests. Finally, there is also the government which supports the 1% and has no intention in helping the 99% of this nation. They will only act when they fear the possibility of a revolution or mass resistance from the youth. I know the protests have not been working to completely stop police murder, but if we continue, the government will see that we will never forget the stolen lives taken away by the police. For instance, police officer Michael T. Slager was charged with murder of the unarmed Walter Scott (after Slager shot Scott in the back while running away). I believe that this officer was charged instead of getting a free ride only because of all the uprisings that have been happening in Ferguson, Baltimore, and all over the nation. The government charged this man to cool down the protesters. We will not rest until there is justice. Also, there is another way for those who are interested in politics to make a change within the system. One day, we will see the United States as a great nation just as it’s supposed to be, and there will be justice.