“Black Lives Matter!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”
“Say his name: George Floyd”
“No Justice, No Peace”
These were some of the chants called out over the past few days of protests in Seattle and across the nation. Quickly, the nation has mobilized in response to police brutality and the racialized murders that have happened for much too long. Thousands of people have shown up on the streets and those who can’t join are educating themselves, having hard discussions and donating money.
I was at a couple of the protests that have unfolded over the last few days. On Saturday, some friends and I walked downtown in Seattle, we passed out clementines and cliff bars to the angry and soaked (it was pouring rain) protestors. I felt a call in my heart to go, it was after five and curfew had already been set, but we decided to join anyway. The thought of staying home while this big event was unfolding felt wrong.
The air was filled with tension, fury and teargas. We stayed for a while, feeling the deep emotions of the crowd, the deep sadness and anger for those who have been murdered for existing and being Black. The police turned violent, throwing flash bangs and tear gassing the crowd. I held my friend’s hand as we shielded our eyes and ran.
A couple days later, we went again. The crowd was massive and peaceful. Protestors were passing out water, snacks and medical aid. There was a feeling of community and support among protesters. At around 10 pm, police began pepper spraying and flashing bombing the protesters, which is infuriating but unsurprising. The footage shows a cop grabbing a protesters umbrella and the protester trying to take it back, this led to a rain of pepper spray upon the crowd.
While I was at the protest I ran into Quhaar, 15 years old and a Mike Yarrow Peace Fellow. I asked him for his thoughts on the protests and here is what he said:
“This all makes me infuriated, it was peaceful until the end, until the cops declared it was a riot, it was kind of scary. I realize that when we speak they don’t listen, and when we take action, a protest for example, they fight back. The way I see it as a teenager in these times is ACAB, FDP!
It’s sad that I have to fear for my life and the life of my people, how the slightest misstep can lead to the end of a precious life.
Change needs to happen. The only language our government knows is violence and control.”
Not everybody can protest on the street. For those immunocompromised, older or concerned about their health, this is not an option, but there are plenty of other ways to get involved.
If you are white like me, then you need to be doing something, us white folks can not stand on the sidelines while this is happening. Not only right now, but for a long time, this work is going to take a while.
If you are a WWFOR member, someone who is already committed to peace and justice, then you probably already know this, perhaps you have already been doing this work for a long time, if so, thank you! May this serve as a reminder, or maybe there is some information here that is new to you.
If you are white and have the financial resources, please consider making a donation to one or more or all of these organizations that are on the ground doing work right now.
Places to donate to:
Northwest Community Bail Fund -supports marginalized people in jail who cannot afford bail.
The Black Lives Matter Seattle Freedom Fund -fully funded at the moment, but they are still accepted general donations
Support Black Artists– GoFundMe to support marginalized artists struggling during COVID-19
Reclaim the Block -a movement to defund the Minneapolis police
Black Visions Collective -Healing and transformative justice for Black people in Minneapolis
Campaign Zero -policy solutions to end police violence
Black Lives Matter– National organization with chapters around the country
Think about becoming a sustainer as well, so that these organizations know that a consistent amount of money is coming to them each month.
Sign petitions. Write and call elected officials to demand justice for those murdered by police and let them know that police violence against protesters is unacceptable.
Petition to defund the Seattle Police Department
You can also educate yourself and others. There is always more to learn. Read, watch, listen and discuss with other white people. Here are some books that you can read on the subject:
How to Be an Antiracist- by Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijemoa Oluo
A whole list of anti-racist educational resources can be found here
Do not ask Black people to educate you, that is not their job. In fact, check in on your Black friends and offer them your support, buy them a coffee, cook them a meal.
These are only a few of the ways you can help. There are so many more ways out there. There is so much more information out there. Many different organizations are planning and preparing different actions that people can do while social distancing. Things are happening quickly, but I encourage you to research and look for different organizations that interest you. We all have our own skills, expertise and interests that we bring, use them!
23 years old, Mike Yarrow Peace Fellowship Coordinator