N.O. holds rally protesting police brutality
21st August 2014 · 0 Comments
New Orleans protesters march into 8th District police station
By Michael Patrick Welch
Lafayette Square Park was tightly roped off when a couple hundred protestors gathered there last Thursday night to express their outrage with out-of-control police violence in Ferguson, Mo., New Orleans, and beyond.
Amid cries of “Justice for Mike Brown!” head speaker, Dillard University student Chanelle Batiste stood at the base of the park’s statue and held forth on police brutality cases, including the recent New Orleans incident where a routine traffic stop ended in an officer shooting a civilian in the head. The offending officer and the police department then failed to report the violence, and in fact, seemed to be covering it up—until the media reported it.
The crowd remained silent for a full 15 minutes while Chanelle Batiste discussed at length how the crowd would proceed with the officially scheduled moment of silence. With heat in the 90s and the sun still bright at 6:30 p.m., candles were passed out and lit among the crowd, who were asked to then raise their hands in the prone “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” position that has become the symbolic meme of the struggle in Ferguson.
“Every 28 hours a [person of color] loses their life to police brutality,” Batiste reminded the crowd. As the moment of silence began, she continued, “This is for everyone who has lost their life to police brutality: Wendell Allen, Henry Glover, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell…”
Batiste told the crowd to keep up with the hashtag #NMOS14 for more information on further rallies.
As the crowd dissipated in all directions, City Councilman Jason Williams showed up to meet and comfort a crying attendee. It was then that protestor Herman Hubbard climbed up the statue and bellowed a voice of dissent at the peaceful protest: “We do not need appeasement from these Black politicians! All that ‘we shall overcome’ sh-t is dead! You gotta be violent with those who are violent with you!”
Forty-two-year-old Shedrick Roy disagreed: “That guy is just taking away from this message. We don’t need that. This was a beautiful event. This group of ladies got people motivated. All it takes is one person to spark a movement.”
Roy added, “It’s very sad what’s happening in Ferguson, but we need some attention here also.” Roy plugged his own “Man-Up March” scheduled for October 25 at 10 a.m. at Congo Square in Armstrong Park. “That will be specifically for African-American males. We understand that to make things better – even to stop some of the police brutality – we shouldn’t put ourselves in certain predicaments. It’s an economic problem for sure, but it’s also a problem with self-love or the lack thereof.”
Nicole Porche carried a two-by-four decorated with roses and photos of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. “I think just the silent vigil gave people a moment to reflect on the situation at hand,” said Porche. “For me personally it’s bigger than just the moment. I am the mother of a 22-year-old son.” As her eyes welled with tears she said, “You have to stand for something or you fall for anything. They think they are above the law. They are making their own rules.”
Like many others at the rally, Porche stressed that this is “not a Black or white issue” – despite that Black folks are faced with police brutality much more frequently than white folks.
As captured by local filmmaker David Bear, some members of the crowd then marched through the streets chanting while lighting smoke bombs. The crowd then marched to Jackson Square, where Mike Brown’s cousin Emily Ewings from New Orleans spoke, telling the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen I am tired! I am tired of my brothers and sisters laying dead in the street! And I don’t want you all to be distracted by the media saying, ‘Mike was about to go to school, Mike was a good guy,’ because this could happen to anyone! This could happen to you!”
The protesters then marched directly into the 8th District Police Department, hands raised above their heads.