I met with Marcela Mitaynes and Jabari Brisport and looked out into the crowd in awe. There was a constant hum of helicopters above us. A sea of police officers faced off with a crowd of peaceful protestors who were chanting and occasionally playing music. They seemed to have called in every cop in Brooklyn on us.
Eventually everyone walked away from Barclays down along Flatbush Ave. towards Prospect Park. We took over the streets of NYC in that moment. We chanted and occasionally blocked traffic. People peeked out of their windows and shouted out support and banged their pots and pans. Cars drove by, honked their horns, and revved their engines. I for once felt something I had only previously felt in Chicago during the teachers’ strike: The people of the city were with us. You could feel the energy of solidarity every where we went.
As we walked towards Prospect Park, an unsettling question arose: Where are the cops? Once we got to Prospect Park, the vans all rushed in. The protesters had pulled barricades from the park into the street to stop traffic and keep the cops out. The cops rushed out of their vans and pulled for and fought for the barricades. Eventually, we let go of the barricades and ran out of the area.
We all walked in front of a museum nearby and chanted and played music. The cops followed us back and surrounded us. Suddenly, we saw riot police coming in. It is appalling that they called riot police on a crowd of mostly young, Black and brown students who were peacefully protesting. Our safety was clearly less important than museum property. We got split up, and the cops surrounded and trapped a group in front of the museum and pushed everyone else off.
Physically seeing what we are up against, a violent, racist capitalist state, is surreal and horrifying. The feeling of the people of New York City uniting and seeing unions like the Transporation Workers’ Union come out in support of this fight gives me tremendous hope.