Like thousands and thousands of my fellow countrymen and women, I took part in a march and rally this week. Here is a collection of thoughts and observations from the experience:
- The march and rally took place Sunday (June 7) in Tacoma, Wash. and were organized by a small group of college students, so it all began on their campus at the University of Puget Sound. (There would be some “truth” told about their school later during the rally.)
- Crowds can be intimidating. Even peaceful ones. I joined the march in progress (because making a sign is hard!) and it took a few minutes to adjust to the energy. Is my sign on point? Am I holding it right? Should I chant with the people in front or behind?
- The unity and common bond of humanity took hold after a few minutes. People on sidewalks cheered and offered free water. A man drifted through the crowd offering to register anyone to vote.
- At one point I stopped to meet up with a friend and found myself next to Mr. Sonic. (If you don’t know who that is, you’re not from the PNW.) Someone walking by cheered for him and said “Bring back the Sonics!” To which he replied: “And justice!”
- Midway through the 2-mile march, the organizers paused the crowd at one of the busiest intersections in town and asked everyone to take a knee or lie on the ground for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. A powerful moment, for sure. If you haven’t had the opportunity to support a rally or “do your part,” go outside and set the timer on your phone for 8:46 and lie face-down on the sidewalk or street. It’s a damn long time. Even without someone’s knee on your neck.
- The Tacoma Police stopped traffic on all sides and cleared the route for the march, allowing the protest to continue without incident. Given the fact that two officers in this department are under review for the death of Manual Ellis in their custody on March 3, the irony was palpable (at least to me).
- “This is my America,” I thought, one where several truths can be held at the same time: 1) the deaths of George Floyd and Manual Ellis (and so many others) were absolutely wrong, 2) the protests this past week are part of our country’s history and integral to justice and 3) the looting and vandalism around the U.S. are not excused and the…