Interviews with protesters of the Black Lives Matter movement and in reaction to the murder of George Floyd.
By Michelle Lozano, A-LMFT
Please share your first name, age and any identities you want to share.
My name is JaCobi. I am 29, Jamaican-American and a Nurse.
Q. What should we call it, a protest, riot, or both?
I would call the one I attended, and majority of the ones that are taking place, a protest. We stated our disappointment in the system by unifying and using our voices.
We are angry and tired, and we are saying just that. We are demanding change, NOW! Everyone wants it to be “peaceful,” but I’m not at peace when I see all the murders by police.
So when we are chanting, you will hear and feel the people’s pain. That does not mean we are doing it in a violent manner, but we are pissed.
However, I am aware of the protests that turned into riots. While it is not the way I would partake personally, I understand the frustration that led individuals to participate in more intense ways. In general, there appeared to be more protests than riots.
Q. When and where did you attend protest? What streets did you cover?
My brother, his friend and I participated in the Chicago Public School Community Defund CPD (Chicago Police Department) Now protest on Thursday, 6/4. It started at 5:00pm at Lincoln Park High School, and we walked about 5 miles all the way past Rush Hospital in Illinois Medical District, close to the Juvenile Detention Center.
In the middle, we stopped and sat for 8 mins outside the Chicago Police Academy.
Q. What was the focus of the protesting on the day you went out?
The purpose was to demand justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Gerald Reed, and so many other black individuals.
To Demand release for all jailed protesters, as well as demanding civilian police accountability council.
And, of course, proving that Black Lives Matter.
Q. What stood out to you the most?
First, was the amount of support from all different races coming together fighting for Black lives.
I also remember coming to tears on two accounts. Walking past a black female bus driver in her bus crying cause she was so overwhelmed by the support, and thanking us for using our voice.
Also, when we were sitting for that 8 mins. One of the organizers offered the police to join us by taking a knee with us. Almost all of them refused. And it was one Latinx woman officer who was brave enough to do what the other officers refused to do. She took a knee, and we began clapping, because that’s all the people want. Officers who hears us, see us, and believe us. That’s how change comes about.
At the end of the 8 mins, there was a total of 3 officers who joined in taking a knee.
I was grateful to experience my first protest side by side with my little brother.
Q. There is plenty of footage nationwide of protesters looting and causing destruction, as well as police aggression and violence. Can you comment on either from what you saw?
The protest I attended did not turn into “looting” or violence. There was a point when we were at the Police Academy, and people’s frustration of all the other officers not taking a knee started to get heated. You could sense things getting a little intense.
But one of the organizers noticed it, got our attention, and lead the crowd to our next destination. She executed it smoothly and shifted the focus back to the reason why we are using our voices.
Q. Why did you go out?
I went out, cause I am Black, and I have a black son. I felt like it was my duty to utilize my voice.
I have been posting resources non-stop on my social media platform, signing a million petitions, and donating, yet I still was feeling overwhelmed and useless.
I knew I wanted to be on the front-lines of this. Despite me and my siblings being very well educated, it is a shame that we each have a story about bad encounters with police. And having to hold my breath every time I see flashing lights, being mindful not to move to fast or be “too black” that I don’t “scare” the one of us that has a bullet-proof vest and a gun.
I am taking my fear back. My brother and I are second-generation Jamaican-Americans, and our Grandmother and Mother came to this country so that we would have better, safer opportunities.
We were able to walk side by side together fighting for the dream they have for us. And put simply: our lives matter, ‘Cause Black Lives Matter!
Feel free to leave JaCobi a comment below!