(Because I needed a free day on Sunday, this was written early on Saturday so it doesn't reference anything important that may have taken place on the weekend.)
What an extraordinary time of political activism we are living through. Like so many others, I was struck speechless last Monday at the president's ludicrous Bible walk which was preceded by law enforcement firing rubber bullets and pepper-spraying peaceful protesters while also hitting them with shields and batons to clear the path for dear leader and his entourage.
Taking a moment today to re-watch the spectacle of the stone-faced president waving a Bible around to no apparent purpose, I saw a man who looked weak and pathetic.
Nothing he did during the rest of the week changed that impression.
What did make an impression on me are the hundreds of thousands – in total, probably millions - of protesters in dozens of cities and towns marching day after day, transforming themselves into a powerful new movement even in the face of a deadly virus and police in some cities determined to thwart them by force.
In the process, Black Lives Matter has become the anthem that cannot be ignored. Remarkably, too, the crowds of demonstrators against racism are a lovely mixed bag – black and white and brown, young and old.
It was, of course, the asphyxiation death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis that set off the protests which have now become a international phenomenon.
Some of us who hang out at this blog took part in the protests of the 60s – the anti-Vietnam War marches, the civil rights and women's movements. And here we are again – the work has only just begun and the determination in the streets has become a powerful force.
This time, I am too old and too ill to be out in the streets and I am sorry for that. I would like to be there but I think this kind of political action has always been young people's work for the most part. It is their turn this time.
But they have my full and heartfelt support. (If you would like to donate to help the protesters with hotlines, bail funds, legal aid, medical bills for inevitable accidents, etc., Paper magazine has a list of links to donation sites for cities throughout the United States.)
A few changes have already been made. Some municipalities have banned tear gas and choke holds by the police. There is polling, tentative so far, that the protests are having a negative impact on President Trump's approval rating. It's a start.
Meanwhile, apparently believing peaceful protesters present a grave danger to the president in the White House, that new metal fence behind which he cowers has been enlarged to include the entirety of Lafayette Park. DCist reports:
”By Thursday afternoon, construction crews had used additional fencing and concrete barricades to block off all entrances to Lafayette Park, the Ellipse and other open spaces around the White House that have hosted First Amendment protests for more than 100 years.”
That man sure does love his fences.
Meanwhile, the White House and Attorney General William Barr have been squabbling over which of them gave the order to forcefully disburse the peaceful demonstrators in front of the White House for the president's Bible walk.
(I was particularly dismayed at the helicopter with a red cross painted on its belly flying low over the area to help chase away the protesters that Monday evening. The red cross, by Geneva Convention, is used on vehicles, buildings and people to indicate humanitarian and medical workers to protect them from attack in battle situations.)
I'm not the only person who believes something bigger than we have seen in a long while is happening and that Trump's distasteful Bible walk was a turning point. Somehow it was enough to make a whole lot of people believe there is much hard work to be done, the time is now and that we the people can do it.
What do you think?