Black Lives Matter

T.E. ZeriBy T.E. Zeri      June 26, 2020

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Black Lives Matter
It was 90 degrees in Northridge, June 2, as protesters and organizers of The Northridge Black Lives Matter (BLM), @northridgeblm protest, began gathering around the Oviatt Library at California, State University Northridge (CSUN). They were there to peacefully protest the murder of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own apartment while sleeping, and the countless, but not forgotten lives ended by police brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen exponential support since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, first demanded all arresting officers to be reprimanded and charged in a public post by Tamika D Mallory, an activist known for organizing the Women’s March in 2017.
White Silence Is Violence

“Hands up, Don’t Shoot!” the protestors chanted, as they stood face-to-face with a dozen police officers. “Say Her Name, Breonna Taylor!,” “Say His Name, George Floyd,!”
“What do we want? Justice! When Do We Want it? Now!”

Without speaking to the organizer, no one would have known it took one day for Northridge BLM to organize 1000 protestors and an inspiring sit-in. In a phone interview with Carrolee, Saeed, and Ebony, we discussed the protest that day, why they wanted to form the chapter, how long it took to organize, and their leadership. Carrolee was the first to talk. “It was organized quickly…only one day…{and} was organized to be an official Black Lives Matter chapter.”

The leadership was palpable.

Carrolee said, “We were there for a common goal, we knew it was to be peaceful. When we put in this much positivity, it was going to be peaceful. We were confident.” Days earlier, the organizers forewarned all protestors in an Instagram post, “THIS is a peaceful protest that’s gonna end in a peaceful sit-in, no looting or violence of any sort. All allies welcomed, please respect the movement.”

But it didn’t matter if all protestors were there for peace; the police would be there, too.

The organizers had been in dialogue with the police before the protest, a feature that was different from other protests. I congratulated the organizers on their success and their strong leadership skills but I wrongly assumed they were a CSUN led-group with the protestors being mostly CSUN students (that’s how I heard of the protest, through CSUN back channels). Since I thought they were students I thought the chances the LAPD would fire were low. I was wrong. Ebony corrected me. “The majority of the protesters weren’t students but from all over LA,” she said. “The LAPD told us if we were to take the protest off campus, LAPD would show up, and the National Guard, with rubber bullets.”

“With their zip-ties and bullets out,” Carolee continued, “It was a slap in the face: the fact they came in to intimidate. We asked them to march with us and they showed up with zip-ties and rubber bullets already out.”

Ebony cut in, “We were told when, not if, it goes off campus that it is going to get violent.” “We were confident it wouldn’t get violent,” Carolee said, “but they continued to echo when, to try and keep the march on campus.”

Ebony recalled that “during the protest, an LAPD officer came directly up to me and said, ‘I suggest you make a right on Plummer street to end this protest soon…if the protestors keep straight it’s going to get violent,’ so we kept going straight on Reseda, past Plummer.”

It was at this moment when one white male came out from the sidewalk toward us, voice raised, body lurching. It took seconds for four to five protestors to lock elbows to protect the group. With one common goal, we marched past the instigator.

Not all the cops were trying to escalate. Two Northridge cops were trying to deescalate.

One even told the organizers how proud he was of them. “He carried supplies for us as we marched in the hot sun” said Ebony. “The LAPD kept twisting our words; Officer Murphy from Northridge was the only officer trying to deescalate and the LAPD kept trying to intimidate the organizers. The CSUN police were supporting the protestors and the LAPD told us to expect violence.”

The Northridge BLM is of one mind. With one successful protest, the organizers used this momentum and organized another on Friday, June 5. This is what leadership looks like - continual commitment to the movement.

Support Northridge BLM. The Chapter is selling T-Shirts with the tag line, “TIRED 1610-2020 (Been Tired).” To purchase: @blackcreationsonline via Instagram.
T.E. Zeri
By T.E. Zeri      June 26, 2020

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