With streets clouded in smoke and gas, the message and intent has never been so clear. This week Los Angeles was set in flames, and the city began to see the silver lining of what change could look like, yet still long strides away from the solution.
Saturday may 30th, was a day meant for peace, unity and progression. Pan Pacific park in the center of Los Angeles was filled with people of all ages, sizes and ethnicities gathered together for the first time in months amid the global pandemic to march for one purpose, that purpose being to bring justice to the unthinkable and inconceivable amount of black lives lost due to police brutality.
The symbol of this march and tipping point of the new revolution is that of George Floyd, a 46 year old man who was killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25th 2020 for allegedly using a counterfeit 20 dollar bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.
For eight minutes and forty six seconds, Floyd begged for his life, for his mother for just another breathe using the words heard around the world “I Can’t Breathe” while an officer used excessive and unnecessary force holding his knee on Floyds neck where he then died on the street.
The entire interaction was filmed and spread like wildfire. George Floyd, a son, a brother, a father, a husband and of all else, a human being quickly became the symbol for a change that has been of desperate need for our deeply rooted systematic racist justice system and history.
Police cruisers burned on the intersection of Fairfax and 3rd. Police cars and armoured vehicles with personnel stormed down the street driving erratically, almost hitting civilians. Thousands of protesters resurrected George Floyds last words, their hands up in the air as they fell to their knees and screamed in unison, ‘Please, I can’t breathe’.
The words rang loud and clear. Smoke drifted between riot police and protesters. Police sirens screamed in the background. The Protesters were feet away from the line of riot shields and the police that moved them steadily closer. As tension reached its breaking point flashbangs, paintballs, tear gas and rubber bullets were shot into the crowd. Young teenagers, kids, parents, residents were hit and injured. Everybody scattered into side alleys and further down the street.
I was personally hit in the back of the head by a rubber bullet and immediately fell to the ground. The pain felt similar to being struck by a baseball. I could clearly see the large rubber bullets bouncing and scattering around me. As the sound of explosives, screaming and fleeing subsided, the protesters once again gained the courage to group together and approach the police, chanting as they walked.
This continually happened, over and over again. The entire scene felt powerful and symbolic. It felt important and significant and it was emotional to be there and hear the chants. To hear the names of unarmed black people that have been killed by the police, cried over and over again”.
This article has been produced by Toby Wallace and Reid Anderson.