Monday was hard. I headed down to Union Square anticipating the Darren Wilson verdict. I didn’t have any expectations. I just knew that I had to be there with my people.
I walked from Union Square Park to Times Square. I marched in solidarity with people from all races to protest the grand jury decision in the murder of Michael Brown. Like so many times before, the murder of a young black man by the hands of police goes unpunished. Darren Wilson has indeed got away with murder.
Although I’ve participated in numerous demonstrations in Chicago with little to no effect on the community, I continue to march and organize. When I think of Michael Brown, I think of my own younger brothers. Or the fact that one day, I may have a son will grow up in this environment that perceives all young black men as threats. I am compelled to march.
I walked with what felt like thousands of people with my heavy tote bag filled with what felt like everything I owned: my laptop, notebook, extra pair of shoes and my coat. It was unseasonably warm in Manhattan and I was marching in a North Face coat. I walked about 10 blocks before I was drenching in sweat and my shoulder hurt from my heavy bag. But I kept walking. We were marching with anger but we were hopeful. We’ve watched the police get away with murder for so long that many of us don’t even bother to protest. Despite the fact that the reason we were marching was horrible, the atmosphere was so positive. There were no instances of violence; no confrontations with people on the street and no clashes with the police while I was there. I took pictures and filmed videos of us marching. It was an eerily familiar feeling. It was the exact same feeling I had in 2013 when we marched for Trayvon in Chicago. Except this time we won’t even get a trial.
A part of me knew this was going to be the outcome. The Zimmerman verdict literally sucked the life out of me and I cried on the Chicago lakefront when I heard the news. This time I was ready. There were no tears. There was disappointment but the events of the past year forced me to realize that while justice is the goal, it is highly unlikely that it will happen for Michael Brown’s family and many other families in the criminal justice system. When I got the confirmation, I just said to myself quietly, ‘I’m sorry.’ Not talking to anyone in particular. But just offering anything I could to another brother gunned down. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry that there are people who didn’t see your humanity. I’m sorry that there will not be justice for your family.
Darren Wilson will go home to his new wife and continue to live his life. Michael Brown’s parents have to grieve. But for us? We’ll still be marching. For Tamir Rice. For Akai Gurley. For the next unfortunate victim.
Where do we go from here? There have been activists and people who have been doing this kind of work for decades and I admire them. But I’m still fairly young and I am already TIRED. How do we find the strength to keep pushing on? Is it hope? Hoping that things will get better? Faith? Believing that God has the ultimate judgement? Or with camaraderie? For me it’s the latter. Knowing that we are in this fight together is the only thing that keeps me going.