Protest fears

February 22, 2021

But then the police showed up, and everyone, the energy obviously shifted. And most of it was fear.

I remember when the summer of 2020, when protests first started in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, I know that I went to this one that was on the corner of like Northwest class and 23rd Street or something like that. And lots of people, very organized and you know they were doing everything right being safe. It's actually wild how much behind the scenes organizing goes into these things because like the number one priority of organizers is to keep those that attend safe from harm. And that's something that I've learned that's really important. But I think, especially police unions like can really try and spin it as otherwise. And I definitely saw that when I was at this first protest that first weekend, and it was like I said, totally safe, very organized. And just like a beautiful collection of people that were there to express the pain they were feeling and all of that, especially when it came to George Floyd but also everyone that we've lost in our own community to police violence. But then the police showed up, and everyone, the energy obviously shifted. And most of it was fear. And when the police did show up, automatic aggression to everyone.

I just remember hearing screams of people's arms being like twisted by police while they're facedown in the concrete. Or I was standing on a street corner and this police officer was telling people to get off of the street and stand on the sidewalk, and this guy was crossing the street.

And just out of nowhere, this like burst of like aggression, where, you know what I mean, and I just like as I'm talking about it, I see it in my head. But what came after that, which was really like, almost worse was that the FOP, the fraternity of police, the police union in Oklahoma. As people were calling for the chief of police to resign or be fired, or whatever, the fraternity of police gathered outside city council while they were having their meeting to stand in solidarity for the police chief, and they had this whole press conference. And I think it was the vice president of the FOP stood there and said that there's nothing the chief needs to apologize for, like ‘our officers acted with extreme restraint,’ like all of all these things that were obviously not true and can be shown with video evidence. So, I know, like some organizers that I know, got together, they put together all this footage that they had of the protests and all of the footage of the violence that the police perpetrated. And they stitched together the video with whatever the FOP guy was saying, and with actual video evidence of what actually happened and stitched it together and made this really powerful video, where after whatever he said, they showed a video of exactly the opposite. That was clear and couldn't be contradicted in any other way. And then I think recently, they tried to do the same thing. And I think police unions are kind of a really big problem. And I know that that’s the target of a lot of organizing efforts is just like getting a handle on that.

Erica Browne

Erica Browne is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior.