On Saturday morning, we all went into New York City to attend a peaceful protest. We face some obvious problems in society – social, political, and economic inequities. Our criminal justice system is in need of reform. I wanted to show my support for those who champion those issues and for all peaceful protests. I also wanted to introduce my kids to direct political participation.
The sticking point, as always, was Ian. Autism people do not do well in crowds. If things got ugly, he would be very, very vulnerable. So, we spent a lot of time coming up with a plan with contingencies and back up plans.
And it turned out fine. We couldn’t do the whole march down to Washington Square Park, because his feet were hurting and he had reached the end of his endurance for yelling. But we walked enough of it to make everyone happy.
The march itself was inspirational and powerful and inclusive. There was zero tension with cops. Jonah is totally hooked and is planning on going back this week for more. It was also so much fun to have the city to ourselves, to walk down the center of Sixth Avenue on a sunny day.
Later, we walked through Times Square, which was completely empty and boarded up. With the weeks of virus devastation and the destruction from looters, my poor city is so screwed. More on that later.
5 thoughts on “A Day at the March”
Looks like you had a great day. I took S to the March for Women’s Lives in 2017. Maybe I should try to take E to a protest around here.
NYC was screwed long before these protests. It was screwed when 1. the police became too powerful and 2. when it was struck my massive income inequity. That said, I love my screwed city….
My kiddos participated in a peaceful march in our neighborhood on Saturday. It was a difficult permission for me to give because I continue to be worried about viral spread. It was peaceful (though, just as our peaceful march started, the police took action against another group of protesters in another part of the city). Our kids peeled off before the end of the march because we were worried that protesters might get more disruptive, but, they didn’t. It remained peaceful. Everyone was masked and my kids said that there would have been social approbation for not masking. The protesters were also spread out enough that 6 foot distancing was possible (we could watch them on the street on traffic cameras).
My older kiddo has been helping with organizing, delivering and organizing supplies, monitoring police scanners, . . . .But until Saturday, I had voiced discomfort with joining marches.
On Friday, I joined a friend to paint boarded up windows in our city’s International District (outside, uncrowded), which has suffered from racist anti-Asian sentiment (before the pandemic quarantines) and is also located close to a downtown district and had been the target of some early destruction from the earlier BLM protests. About 100 artists came to paint and have created an eclectic temporary outdoor art gallery in the neighborhood. The work was done with consent of the community/owners and varies from the cute (our artwork, cute, informative) to graffiti style works and to directly political works.
Over dinner conversation yesterday, my older kiddo smiled at the radicalization of her family. I’m the kind of person who needs protection (say, for example, Laura’s stories of exploring NYC in the 80’s as a child horrify me). I need social distance in the best of times. I bump into people, go the wrong way, I’m unaware of dangers around me. I need traffic signals to cross streets. I recently encountered some three squirrels in the park, and seriously there was a squirrel stand off, with all of us wanting to avoid each other, but not knowing what to do :-). So, it was comfortable for me to think of the police as the protectors of the people. I rarely encountered them and I hoped that they were doing their best (a courtesy I give most workers). I presumed that when things went wrong as they sometimes did, that I understood why there couldn’t always be prosecution, but that training and education was used to do better the next time.
Watching the videos in the last two weeks (I can’t watch the ones where people are killed), but watching the police knock over people, kneel on them, kick them in the face, pull masks down to spray pepper, drive by peaceful protesters to spray them, I’ve lost all confidence. I’ve said in these conversations that I said we owe a great deal of responsibility to the people we ask to put themselves in harms way to protect us. But the sheer pettiness of the use of power not to keep themselves safe, but to punish has forced me to change my perception. The police are committing the equivalent of a nurse coughing into a patients’ face because they’ve annoyed her. It’s ugly, unacceptable, and doesn’t protect anyone.
The last two weeks have shifted my voting priorities in the local elections. I will vote for candidates that will take concrete actions to reform the police, even when they don’t support my other priorities (which, in this case, is often some form of property rights).
It sounds like a great day. It’s been very moving to see the protests everywhere, and so much – caring and community, I think is what I want to say.
I always the this should have gotten more attention than it did. Right to the root of the problem, overcriminalizing leads to discriminatory treatment. https://wagingnonviolence.org/2015/10/gentrified-park-slope-quality-of-life-summons-broken-windows/
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