the police was trying not to tell the Jacob Blake family where he was. A cop ended up getting hit with a brick, and their car got on fire. It was just crazy that night, but people was mad, frustrated, you know?
The first time when we did the George Floyd protest, it was too wild. People were pulling out guns on us. We were running up on them, throwing bricks. So this time, I’m like, “Man, we can’t get nobody else hurt.” Because we needed them to hear us. That’s what made it different for me, and made me step up instead of me just indulging in the same activities that some people were indulging in—the negative.
DJUAN WASH, 36 WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS
That first night, as they were marching and protesting, I saw the videos online, since I was in Waukegan, and fairly close—I knew one of the people that was livestreaming it. And so I traveled up to Kenosha. I sent the video to Ben Crump,* and my friend, Adner [Marcelin], who works for him, and called and let them know that I was headed up there and would be on the ground. After arriving, you know, things had kind of already died down. And I returned home to Waukegan. I was told that folks would be meeting up the next day at noon. And so I returned to Kenosha and joined up with Jerrell, Jesse, Nick and a guy named Jeremy, to lead a march. And we marched on that Monday, to the point to where crowds grew into the thousands. I introduced myself to them as a national community organizer. I kind of explained that this is all going to happen very fast, and it’s gonna be very heavy. So I’m here to help. I’m not here to lead you. I’m not here to be in front of your cameras and to take interviews. I’m here to support your leadership and help develop it. Over that first week, I assisted them with some organizing trainings. I helped them to do some issue cutting, power mapping, those sorts of things, to help understand who are the decision-makers: Who can actually give us what it is that we want? We’ve been up and running ever since.
* Ben Crump is a prominent civil rights attorney who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others.