Through My Optics: Black Lives Matter (BLM) Chicago Protest Up Close Through Photos and Poetry
Poem Published Courtesy of Romel Bryant: Educator, Head Basketball Coach, Mentor & Founder of ICan2 Youth Programs, and Artist.
In June 2020, Romel Bryant was running an errand and little did he know that he would find himself in the middle of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, with little to no Black people. He uses poetry and photos to share his first hand experience. While the news media isn’t focusing on BLM protests as they did in June and early July; They continue. This post complements my earlier blogs on Resistance and Resilience to continue the dialogue that the Black Lives Matter movement is impacting so many of us, Black and non-Black.
Through My Optics (Part 1)
The car pulls up behind me and I start to feel anxiety.
I know all my paperwork is legit, but I am uneased.
The lights start to flash and my heart drops.
I begin to wonder if I am going to die today.
From slave catcher to policemen, the job descriptions are nearly the same.
Protect the haves from the have nots with potential threats being cuffed and detained.
The 13th amendment’s invocation of involuntary servitude and slavery can now be proclaimed.
From a citizen to a modern-day slave in chains with a set of numbers taking place of a name.
As in any profession, you have those that abuse power praying on the less fortunate and weak.
The murder of George Floyd exemplifies the abuse of power from those that protect the “elite”.
I walked out of the store disappointed because the item I desired was sold out.
I had no idea what I would witness as I disappointedly strolled out.
People with signs marching while chanting “Black Lives Matter”.
I felt rejuvenated and somewhat vindicated that this plight began to matter.
Joining a crowd of people I never knew, seeking a demand of humanity that is long overdue.
We walked about a mile with all ethnicities involved.
For once, everyone’s optical windows were open to the same problem that needs resolve.
After a few blocks I noticed not everyone’s dialect was the same.
I started to ponder the origin of which this derivative came.
One person told another their shift ends at 6 o’clock.
That was about 1 and a half hours from the time on my broken watch.
This declaration rattled my mind, so I started to be a little more analytical.
Was the birth of this vision for equal rights or something more devious and political?
We have reached the courthouse and its surrounded by the men in blue.
10 feet away they stood as I stepped away to get a better ocular view.
Very strange I thought as I looked at both sides of the equation.
Everyone there from the police to the protesters were all Caucasian.
This demonstration was aggressive in tone yet peaceful in physical nature.
Then 6pm arrived with a new wave of protesters and antagonistic behaviors.
Those accustomed to abusing power felt powerless and didn’t like this new disposition
They put up their middle fingers, yelled profanities, and sprayed chemicals at their opposition.
The March continued down State Street towards Wacker Drive.
You could tell this was somewhat a military operation from both sides.
Protesters ready to clash, Police waiting for the word.
My Spidey senses started tingling from these things that I observed.
The protesters gathered at Wacker Drive, on the North side of the bridge.
Protesters verbally demeaned Police for some of the heinous acts they have did.
Chanting names from George Floyd, Eric Gardner, Atatiana Jefferson, and so many others.
It seemed to strike a chord to the more militant of them.
The military strategy of the police was easily compromised.
As they were instructed to get all the protesters North of Wacker Drive.
They raised all but one bridge hoping to contain and trap the protesters.
It was heard over the radio waves; we will take them down when we get them to this section.
Protesters heard the Police commands on the radio; force will be used.
That was all this wave of protesters needed to hear to become unglued.
A water bottle full of urine came flying across the crowd striking Policemen.
A police officer then pushed a protester, this was the beginning of the end.
I walked over to Wabash to find a way back home.
Yet I discovered the police strategically mapping out the plan they formed.
When protesters arrived at Michigan and Wacker the tension had hit its apex.
It started getting physical with neither side showing respect.
It transitioned from a peaceful to a violent protest.
Then to looting, rioting, and civil unrest.
It felt like a movie I had once seen entitled “The Purge”.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing every way I turned.
After antagonistic behaviors from both sides escalated the situation,
The police were instructed to stand down from what they helped to create.
Stores were looted, police were beaten, protesters were beaten by protesters.
People were robbed and some were murdered with and without weapons.
Seeing dead bodies just lay on the ground,
In disbelief this was happening in “The Loop”, Chicago’s Prominent Downtown.
I received a call from a friend that drove in from a suburban town.
He said, you wouldn’t believe some guys are carrying an ATM around.
Before the protesters all left, word got back around.
They were coming back tomorrow to burn this city down.