I am continually more and more scared for this country, but I feel lucky that I can continue to show up and protest for what I believe is right. Last night I attended the Trump protest in downtown Phoenix. I wrote this blog post in three parts, the first is about how I felt before the protest in dtphx, the 2nd is what happened during, and the 3rd is reflecting on after.
I am so nervous. I’m worried about things getting violent. I’m worried about someone driving a car into the crowd. I’m worried about getting shot or maced or separated from my family. I feel so scared in a way that I haven’t before, yet I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’ve attended so many protests, and never once have I worried this much. Yet here I am. I’m so worried about showing up. I’m so terrified of showing up.
But I’m more terrified of not. I’m more afraid of what will happen if I don’t go. I’m afraid of what would happen to this country, this state, my friends. Because that’s not me. That’s not an option. I show up. I do it. And right now, I have to. I have to stand up to hate and bigotry. I have to show up. This issue isn’t about me. It never was. This issue is bigger than me.
My Experience During:
I attended the protest with my parents, sister, boyfriend, and 5 others. We made signs, we chanted, we showed up. And looking around in the crowd, I found at least a dozen other people I knew. I felt safe, which I wasn’t expecting. The people entering the Trump rally (why is he still rallying? He’s the President…), flipped us off, took photo and video, and were overall just as I expected. There were Phoenix Police officers in full riot gear, some with guns drawn, standing in the middle of the road facing us.
It was a peaceful protest.
I cannot stress that fact enough. While I was there, I saw no violence. It was a peaceful protest on our end.
My group and I stayed until Trump’s speech ended and we saw the police moving out. We decided to head out too. Less than 15 minutes later, I saw people running in my direction, away from the protest. They were coughing, eyes burning, terrified. They had been tear gassed. Many of my friends who had stayed were tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and had flash bangs thrown at them.
Well, there’s mixed stories about that. From people I know who were there when it happened, as well as reliable journalists (some of whom were also caught in the gas), it was uncalled for. There was still no violence on the protesters side, no need for such aggression from police. Some people claim that someone threw rocks and water bottles, but everything I can find only claims that at most, a single empty plastic water bottle may of been thrown. May have been, it’s not clear.
My mom had prepped us for what to do if we were tear gassed or pepper sprayed, even carrying extra water and bandanas to shield our eyes. When we left, I mentioned to her that I was thankful we hadn’t needed to use her tactics. Unfortunately others had.
The truth is I don’t feel much better. I attend so many large demonstrations, and most of the time I walk away from them feeling like I made a positive difference, but if I’m being honest, all I feel today is sick. I don’t feel like I made enough of a difference. Our country is falling apart and some days, like today, I struggle to see what the point is.
I struggle because this protest did not need to get violent, and yet it ended in tear gas. Shame on the Phoenix Police force for jumping to that without reasonable cause. Shame on their chief for covering it up. Shame on the Arizona Republic for their front page headline reading “VIOLENCE ERUPTS” implying that the protesters were the ones getting violent.
I am such a huge Phoenix supporter. I defend this city with everything I am, but today I am so disappointed. We can, and should, and will, do better.
If you’d like to learn more about good Protest Ettiquette and how to prep for your first protest, check out Almost Inexplicable podcast! I’m featured on this week’s episode