The last week has been one of the most intense in recent memory. I don’t even know where to begin to compartmentalize all my emotions. I have been proud, scared, grateful, annoyed, astounded, incredulous, sad, guilty, maternal, angry. And that’s just on Thanksgiving day spent with my kids and family. This goes down for me as one of the most messed-up Thanksgiving weekends ever spent. Prior to the holiday, we were all playing the “I have it on reliable authority that the Ferguson Grand Jury decision will be today” every day for two weeks. When it appeared that the day had really finally come and we would hear the decision of whether Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted for killing Michael Brown, I was too antsy to wait for the announcement at home. An hour beforehand, I drove to the Legal Hub we’ve established to dispatch Legal Observers. Several attorneys and volunteers huddled around a computer listening to Bob McCullough detail the facts, all knowing what the result would be. The experience reminded me of that photo of the President and his top advisors in the Situation Room the night Osama bin Laden was killed.
One week ago and so many protests I can’t even count. I’ve been legal observing throughout and helping run the legal observer headquarters with a dedicated team of crack volunteers. (as in “ace”, not “heroin’s cousin”). I’ve worked a lot, but not nearly so much as others. I marvel at the many who are seemingly indefatigable. I, on the other hand, don’t function well after four nights of staying up until 4:00 a.m. I just made a list of the events in the last week I’ve attended and each one has made an indelible mark in my psyche. I can, and probably will, write about each one separately, but just to capture the past week for posterity:
- The die-in at the Galleria Shopping Mall in Brentwood, MO
- The daylight march to City Hall in downtown St. Louis the day after the announcement
- Street protests at Grand and Arsenal in the Shaw neighborhood near protester safe spot Mokabe’s coffeehouse
- Street march from the Shaw neighborhood to The Grove area on Manchester in South City, MO
- Nightly protests at the Ferguson Police Department
- The daytime march and die-in along Eager Rd. in Clayton, MO
- Protests at Ground Zero on W. Florissant just off Canfield Dr. in Ferguson, MO
- A car caravan Thanksgiving Eve in the frigid sleet visiting the spots Kajieme, Vonderrit and Michael were gunned down
- The Sunday protest march from Kiener Plaza in downtown STL to the Ram’s studio.
Everything has been happening in such rapid succession I can hardly absorb it all. I realize my participation is voluntary, but it feels like a calling. Once I started, there was no getting off the bus. It feels too important. Each white face I see scowling at protests hardens my resolve to make a stand. Right here. Right now. In this moment.
People are coming from all over the country to join the cause. Volunteers traveled from New York, Cincinnati, Illinois, California, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle. It’s like Field of Dreams. Build it. They will come. Four law students who drove 12 hours from Buffalo, NY the day after the Grand Jury announcement crashed at my house. I’d met so many volunteers at that point I didn’t even try to learn their names. Instead they became Buffalo 1, 2, 3 and 4. (“the Buffalos”). The beginning of the night they observed was pretty tame at the Ferguson Police Dept. I felt terrible they had made such a grand gesture and then didn’t witness anything as dramatic as they’d seen on T.V. Not that anyone wishes for unruly protesters or police brutality, but you know what I mean. It was like I’d promised them we had the Best Little Whore House in Texas and no one ended up getting laid. The last thing The Movement needs is people not getting laid. That sounded better in my head.