I’m not going to get preachy or judge-y. Last night got kind of scary.
There were protests over the Alton Sterling shooting that happened here a handful of days ago. This latest protest was along a major thoroughfare in town outside of what is now police HQ. It started late in the afternoon and continued rather late into the night.
This building, the police HQ, is a former women’s hospital. Stella was born there, not 6 years ago. It’s a couple of blocks down the street from my kids’ pediatrician. It’s not even 2 miles from our house.
I had heard about the protest around 4:30, that the highway was being closed due to protests. By 8:45, I was glued to my phone which had a live stream from our local paper available on Facebook.
The heart of the protest was on a gas station property. There were probably 200’ish protestors. There were many children present.
The live stream had comments streaming all the while. Many were concerned for the kids. Many comments were urging peace or prayer. Some were despicable – hatred from and for both sides.
As I watched, I saw another large group of police in riot gear join the first group, forming a formidable wall. Shortly thereafter, SWAT joined. The highway itself was ghostly – a road that is normally one of the busiest in town.
As I watched I almost couldn’t breathe. This was one of those scenarios where all it would have taken was one incredibly poor decision to unleash calamity. I worried for the protestors and their children, who would not be able to avoid at least some kind of injury. I worried for those police, stifling hot in that gear on a stifling hot night. I thought about the Long Hot Summer.
Cameras were everywhere. Who knows? Maybe the ubiquitous presence of social media in this case served as a deterrent rather than an accelerant.
I watched 2 men get escorted off. It was done correctly, not that I am a good judge. I do know both men were clearly warned not to advance beyond a certain point at risk of arrest. They did not comply. The police were not rough.
I just wanted everyone to go home safe. I wanted everyone to be able to sit on their couch, cool off, and have a cold drink.
I’m happy, and I suppose proud, that the folks here in my city stayed peaceful. We did not become the “next Ferguson.” There are more protests today. I hope people -all of them – choose as well today.
I don’t know why I’m writing. Too many people have aired their own opinions. Mine are just more noise. I certainly don’t have the answers. I don’t even know the right questions to ask. I’m just a dumb geologist, wife, and mother.
Some people are assholes. Assholes can be all shapes, sizes, colors, and come from many professions. I try not to be an asshole. I am raising my children to not be assholes to the best of my ability. That is the best answer I have.