Unless you are living off the grid, you must have heard about the recent protests happening all around the United States, where hundreds of thousands are gathering to demand an end to police brutality. In a cruel twist of irony, we’ve seen that these protests against police brutality have been met with……yup, you guessed it, more brutality from the police. I recently experienced this myself, when I joined the #BlackLivesMatter protest in Washington, D.C.
Although I have never experienced the tragic effects of racism personally, I felt compelled to show my support to those who face these injustices everyday and join them in the fight to improve our criminal justice system. After a bit of research, I decided that the best way for me to get involved was to gather useful supplies to share with other protesters, and join them in the fight for reform.
After a trip to the grocery store, I quickly made my way to Washington, D.C. with 40 bottles of water, hundreds of snacks, a few first aid kits, extra face masks, some bottles of milk (for irritated eyes from pepper spray or tear gas), and a growing passion to work alongside my brothers and sisters to create meaningful change.
Once I got to Lafayette Park, I was encapsulated by thousands of people in an energetic crowd. As I walked through the swath of people, I was immediately met by a few groups of helpers who were distributing water bottles, snacks, and protest signs. Surrounding the street lamp on the corner was a medical area, ready with extra water bottles to help keep everyone hydrated and tend to anyone who was injured while protesting.
I started to weave through the crowd distributing the supplies I brought and was met with the utmost appreciation, love, and gratitude by protesters. The atmosphere was truly incredible as there were so many people peacefully protesting in solidarity against an unjust system. The support protesters had for one another was truly astounding. I witnessed complete strangers coming together to show compassion and demonstrate unity.
After about an hour, my supplies had been handed out, so I decided to get a bit closer to the front line of the protests. As I approached the front line, I could see the White House across the lawn. However, there stood hundreds of military and police people in full riot gear, concrete barriers, and an eight foot steel-reinforced fence between us. Despite the attempt to intimidate protesters with this excessive display, we kneeled and chanted to make our voices heard. It was only about a half hour after this when things turned ugly.
It was about 6:20pm ET, and I was planning to head back to Virginia soon so I could make it out of D.C. before curfew hit at 7:00pm ET. The energy of the protests were steadily growing as more people started showing up, however, despite the growing numbers and energy levels, the protesters remained completely peaceful. I noticed a quick shift in the military and police people and all of the sudden a new line of them in full riot gear appeared just inches away from the protesters, with the steel-reinforced fence being the only thing in between them.
It is at this moment, without any clear reason or rationale, that the U.S. government decided to pepper spray and shoot pepper balls indiscriminately at innocent American citizens who were using their constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
As if I was not libertarian enough already, let me tell you that getting pepper sprayed by a government force that my coerced taxes pay for really took me to the next level.
When attempting to move away from the pepper spray, trying not to trample anyone or get trampled myself, I was met by a bunch of other protesters who were farther back in the crowd rushing up to our aid. They were ready with water bottles, milk, and other useful supplies to wash out the burning sensation of pepper spray and treat any wounds that resulted from the chaos.
This is when I realized who really came to these protests to protect and serve the American people. It was not the U.S. National Guard, it was not the DEA agents, it was not the U.S. Marshals, it was not the D.C. Park Police, it was not the D.C. Police Department or any other government agency present – they were present merely to protect their own corrupt institutions.
It was the protesters who came to protect and serve. Not only were they protecting and serving other peaceful protesters, but they came out to protect and serve the individual rights that this very nation was founded upon.
Fortunately, I was still able to get out of D.C. safely and back into the comforts of my home before curfew came into effect. Fuming from my experience just an hour earlier, I turned on live coverage of the protests and watched the chaos unfold. I then witnessed other protesters endure further horror, going beyond what I had experienced myself earlier that day.
My heart breaks for America right now. To see such a beautiful country founded on the ideas of individual liberty be completely torn apart by authoritarian government entities is an absolute tragedy. This will be a defining moment for our nation – I hope that instead of succumbing to tyrannical government pressure, we will all see this as an opportunity to unite and fight for freedom.
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