And that’s just not the experience of so many other New Yorkers, so many other Americans. I think that being in the streets with so many people from so many different walks of life, all mobilizing for this cause, it’s really brought it all home for me. I understand anger, I understand rioting, I understand the reasons for looting because I was in an altercation with the police and felt unsafe, and heard of my mother being assaulted by a police officer. I’ll never forget that moment of seeing her and just seeing the total fear on her face. It was horrifying. The experience protesting, the experience of being involved, it broadened my—it gave me experience to back up sort of what I already believed, if that makes sense.
NEKIMA LEVY ARMSTRONG, 44
The way that I look at this is: How do the frontline activists who have consistently been in this movement, who have consistently been out on the front lines, view this issue? And all of us are pushing for systemic change and reforms. One of the groups that we organize with is Communities United Against Police Brutality. They developed a list of 44 reforms in Minneapolis and across the state that would help to shift the culture of policing and the dynamics—we signed on to that through the Racial Justice Network, along with several of the other organizations that we organized with, including BLM Minnesota and BLM Twin Cities. So we’re all in agreement about those 44 reforms that we want to see happen.
So there’s that activist community. There’s also some organizers who have been working with city council, who are not necessarily a part of these groups that I mentioned, and that’s who the city council has aligned themselves with. And then there is the traditional Black community, who are not typically activists out on the front lines, who may join a protest every now and then, but who are focused on: How do we keep our community safe? Because they understand the realities of police violence, as well as community violence. And just to give an example, in the weeks following the city council statement in Powderhorn Park [where, on June 7th, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council took a pledge to abolish the police], we’ve seen a significant surge in shootings in the community—at least a hundred shootings