A few photos from the first week of what is now a world-wide anti-racist, Black liberation uprising. These are from Mariachi Square in East LA on Sat May 30th, Long Beach on Sunday May 31, and downtown LA Wednesday, June 3rd.
Mariachi Square felt like an old school Mexican political rally. Long Beach was more like church, sometimes a bit like a funeral march. Downtown LA was ominous, surrounded by cops and National Guard, and after a few days of demonstrations that ended with police brutality against civilians, the police were nervous and scared.
Thousands and thousands of us gathered downtown, a completely peaceful protest as all have been, but this time, a few days after the last protest I attended, we were completely surrounded by cops and by National Guard. The National Guard were dressed as heavily armed bushes, which made them really stand out unless, of course, they were standing next to a bush.
There were cops and Nat Guard above us looking down from the buildings that surrounded us, some of them filming and taking photos. There were helicopters flying really lower and getting lower, moving between buildings, and a bunch of drones even lower still.
Nothing happened except extreme surveillance, and for once, the police refrained from provoking people and from opening fire.
The cops are determined to show us all who is in charge. They forget we pay their salaries.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti just signed the new budget. 53% of went goes to LAPD. That’s more than half the city budget. And we wonder why there’s no funding for housing the homeless, or for the school districts. The next day, he pulled $150 million from that $1.8 billion, which means he just reduced the police budget by 8%. If my math is right, that would make it 49% instead of 53% of the city budget.
The answer is not a small reduction in their budget. The answer, at minimum, is a nearly total defunding of the police, and there are an increasing number of people who think the police should be done away with altogether. That’s not a fringe idea, either: NPR just did a piece on it yesterday.
To my fellow white folks who seem to be keeping an emotional distance from all of this while engaging in pearl clutching and saying “what can we do? How is it that over 25 years since the LA Riots we’ve learned nothing?”
The answer is what have we done? Nothing except maybe urge pragmatism and baby steps. This isn’t the LA Riots anymore. This is across the entire country. If we were watching it unfold in any other country, we would call it a Revolution. Maybe that’s what we need to call it here, too.
And please understand: the cops and the National Guard are not just opening fire on Black people anymore. They marched through Minneapolis the other day shooting at middle class white people who were on their own lawns. Middle class white people just like you.
Understand too that its not up to us white folks to take the lead on this once we finally realize something needs to be done. Us being in charge is what got us to this place.