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solidarity cannot be quarantined


June 2020


George Floyd’s [and Ahmaud Arbery’s] death ripped the scab right off America’s blackness, leaving red, raw pain exposed. Days and weeks passed as discontent raged through American and the world’s streets. The sit-in in front of city hall started on Tuesday 23 June 2020 with about 100 people, but by the next day, it swelled with solidarity a hundred times more.

Protesters occupying City Hall have chosen not to be silent anymore, because silence, as we’ve come to know too well, can choke, like a knee in the neck. They are protesting against police brutality of blacks [and brown] people in America and questioning why the police budget increased to $6 billion per year first to frisk, then stop-and-frisk blacks or shoot and/or arrest them, brutalize peaceful protesters, drive SUVs into protesters, enforce subway fare collection, police schools, pound on doors of the mentally ill, clear homeless encampments etc.  Why so much money to fund these “essential” police duties while other essential services are pared to the bone, including education facing a $640 million reduction by de Blasio and housing including homelessness, health care and other social services, including a lack of PPE for the pandemic that disproportionately takes the life of- guess whom? Demonstrators are willing to occupy City Hall until the city’s deadline to pass next year’s fiscal budget so that some of the cop money can go into making life safer for those who don’t want to die while living black.

But, why would we even want to call the police when they we don’t even feel safe with them?

The following videos and photos portray a solidarity as has never been seen before demographically: people lending their skills, chanting mantra-like instructions from those leading in case of arrest, blockades, pepper spray, detainment etc.

upon arriving, at first, it seemed sparse.
protesters came prepared to not only sit-in but sleep in, too
I stood next to the protester drawing this while a cop looked on, amazed…
all of these are made on site, in the art station
Tamir rice was celebrated
sleeping bags, mats, sleeping protesters, others awake and chanting
Brooklyn bridge subway elevator was covered in protests
there were projections on nearby buildings aiding the cause, too
a well-lit manifesto-like note to de blasio, written on hardy canvas to last
a blue bike with speakers to echo protests
another blue bike, admonishing the shut down of the police

Moving images also depict the organized, peaceful sit-in below, including making music a part of their solidarity with drums, singing, saxing to ‘lean on’ for the sleepy; lively chatter keeping vigil ; ‘saints marching’ and protesters going to find victuals; art station where placards, posters were being made or just dabbling in paint and crayons as much-needed therapy; one protester climbing atop the Brooklyn bridge subway to hang a huge banner and when he was done taller people stepping in to help him down quickly before the police could ride up to arrest him; food for all so no one was starving, with all-night free food stands for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, while pizza, water and trays of cake and muffins kept wading through the crowds;  goggles and other first aid also making their way through the swelling crowds in case of police pepper spraying them; people repeating mantra-like instructions including phone numbers of legal aid and pro bono lawyers in case of arrests:


It was so easy to see the flame of hope of the peaceful protesters burning for many nights, shedding light all the way, like a deya on Diwali, burning all night to eradicate evil. 

1 Comment

  1. Surekha Rao says:

    Thank you for sharing such inspiring pictures. We can hope it will be different this time.

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