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In Dallas, Monday night, about 500 protesters marched onto Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The rally had been planned for 6:30 at the Dallas police headquarters, but the new 7 p.m. curfew made that difficult. They moved to the Frank Crowley Courthouse, where participants shared their stories, their pain, and their need for accountability from the leadership. A little before 9 p.m., the rally, organized by activist Dominique Alexander’s Next Generation Action Network, began to march north.
It was the fourth night of protests in Dallas, following the death of George Floyd. On Saturday night, the protest devolved into rioting. Stores like Forty Five Ten were looted, a Dallas man who sought to defend his favorite bar with a machete was beaten, and tear gas filled the streets of Downtown. The mayor implemented a curfew, and protesters had taken to the streets two more nights without rioting.
But Monday night was different. When the 500 marchers were on the bridge, they were blocked by a thick blue line of police officers in full riot gear. As recounted in a D Magazine article, protesters knelt, chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Dallas police didn’t listen and fired tear gas and pepper balls.
When they tried to turn, they realized they were trapped. Police had blocked the other end of the bridge. What followed was a mass arrest.
“The eerie scene was chaotic and poorly organized,” Trace Miller, whose sister was among the protesters, wrote for D Magazine. “Groups of men, women, and juvenile detainees lined the highway. One line had their backs to the wall while another line faced them. Nobody, not even the police, appeared to comprehend the situation.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the world has responded with resounding outrage and grief. With the protests, have come violence, in the form of property damage and looting by some protesters and the use of tear gas, night sticks, and rubber bullets on protesters by law enforcement.
During this time of civil unrest, across the US, bystanders have captured stunning images of police officers using excessive force on protesters, many of whom were not rioting but assembled peacefully. Some were even kneeling when they were shot.
A protest march in Plano, predominantly made up of students, was attended by Plano Police Chief Ed Drain. He walked with them. His officers handed out water. Before the march, he was there, answering questions from concerned citizens. But it has become clear that in this regard, Plano is the exception, not the rule.
Here are just some examples of violent police responses being shared on social media:
Attacks on journalists
These teenagers being dragged out of their car
Protesters in Dallas, kneeling peacefully, then gassed
In Philadelphia, protesters are cornered and gassed
This entire thread
In the 1967 version of his The Other America speech, given at Stanford, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.”
People are protesting excessive force used upon a Black man by a man with a badge, but videos are circulating of people bleeding after being shot with rubber bullets, of kneeling protesters being teargassed, and members of the media being arrested.
What are we failing to hear now?