Sunday, November 30, 2014

#NOLA #Ferguson March and Rally, Sunday Nov. 30 (Pics & Videos)

The picture above was taken at the Circle for Michael Brown rally and march in New Orleans this Sunday. Organized by the Black Youth Project of NOLA, #BYP100NOLA, the rally began at Lee Circle on the city's famous St. Charles Avenue. The circle is named for confederate general Robert E. Lee, and the organizers noted that in New Orleans, black people are surrounded by memorials to confederate heroes, people who wanted to keep black people enslaved. One organizer and activist, poet A Scribe Called Quess, declared that the Lee monument and others need to come down.

The BYP100 organization is run by and focuses on black people between the ages of 18-35, folks considerably younger than I am, but I went with my daughter. She and I attended the first Ferguson-related rally--National Moment of Silence--in August.

Today's group marched from Lee Circle to Congo Square, Louis Armstrong park, stopping at the midway point on Canal Street to perform a #DieIn. A die-in is a variation of the old fashioned 1960s sit-in. During a die-in, however, protesters lie down and mimic being dead to represent all the black people who have been killed by police. The BYP organization has organized DieIns around the country to protest police brutality in the wake of Mike Brown's killing and Darren Wilson's non-indictment.

 The New Orleans organizers also mentioned victims of neighborhood crime, such as young activist George Carter, 15, who was shot to death near his home in October. His body has been described as being "riddled with bullets."

Along with photos, I also captured Vine video at the event.

A little Bob Marley kept the crowd focused while awaiting the beginning of the rally.

Shortly after DieIn, march continues down Canal Street chanting "Black Lives Matter."

End of march rally, Congo Square

Another facet of the protests:

White Allies in the Ferguson Movement 

Black organizers of the rally asked white allies to guard the perimeter to create a buffer between police officers in case an officer became aggressive. According to the speakers (and I have heard of this as a non-violent direct action tactic), white allies played a similar role in some organized protests during the Civil Rights movement. For instance, young white people went down to Mississippi where they had to learn how to take directions from the black people who were being oppressed. Also, they weren't used to being attacked by police officers or white racists themselves either, so there was much to learn.

As the PBS documentary Freedom Summer explains, black activists in the South were tired, and they needed the help of young white activists from the north.

That said, the NOPD, which was not out in high numbers, kept its distance, blocking off streets so the protesters could walk and watching on the sidelines. Nontheless, according to organizers, the police have been highly visible at night when protesters meet at Congo Square/Armstrong Park.

Nearing the End of One Struggle in the Unending Struggle

Promoting inclusion of all members of the African-American community, a number of representatives from various groups spoke to the protesters at Congo Square, such as the director of Women with A Vision, and a young activists representing the LGBTQ community within the black community (young person pictured below). Poets recited their works as well, all part of the drum circle.

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