More than just Skittles & Iced Tea

Originally published in July 2013 by We Are Juxt.

Los Angeles

I noticed the first chopper around 6:30. I couldn’t tell if it was a news copter or an LAPD airship and no one else at the corner of Crenshaw and MLK Blvd. seemed all that interested. If it was the cops, it was their only presence at our location. A couple of dozen black-and-whites blew through the intersection at various points in the evening, but otherwise LAPD seemed to be keeping their distance. Which was a blessing as far as I was concerned. There was good energy at Crenshaw/MLK and a heavy police presence could have fouled it.
9363887510_72e5870963_oThere was an open mic and a steady stream of people using it. There were the usual imprecations for calm and the understandable railing against our skewed system of justice. There were calls for peace, calls for prayer and calls for change. There was a general sense of anger shot through with heavy doses of cynicism, but the general vibe was peaceful while I was there.

There were moments of hope. Hope that this will finally be the clarion call, the back-breaking straw. More than a couple of people used the phrase “American Spring.”

There was also a great weariness. Trayvon Martin is not the first black man whose death has been given the imprimatur of the American justice system. His is a story as old as Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, the millions who came before them and all those who will invariably come after. Those names were all spoken during the course of the evening in speeches, freestyle poems and a couple of epic rants. People questioned priorities. About how pop-culture takes precedence over community. How sharing your outrage on Twitter and Facebook isn’t the same as taking action.

9361099641_cb01915b67_oAbout a mile and a half north of us protestors had begun filing on to the eastbound 10, bringing traffic to a halt. Marchers began making their way down the middle of Crenshaw at about the same time. Signs were waved, banners borne and slogans chanted. A group of drummers pounded the beat and drivers honked their support.

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The word is that things got testy later in the evening as the procession moved into Leimert Park and the police decided to make their presence felt. Monday night’s rally became a melee that ended with arrests and injuries. Which is both unfortunate but certainly not a first here in the Southland.

 

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