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After BHAZ

‘We’re not tearing up our communities, we’re coming to the root of the problem, which is the government’

June 24, 2020

4:43 PM

24 June 2020

4:43 PM

Protesters tried to establish an autonomous zone between the White House and St John’s Episcopal Church on Monday. Law enforcement pushed the demonstrators out of Lafayette Park using pepper spray, quickly shutting down the ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’ and establishing a perimeter much farther away from the White House. The protesters also attempted to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson.

By the next morning, law enforcement had set up a perimeter such that it was impossible to venture within a quarter mile of the White House from any direction.

The police line in the middle of the newly dubbed Black Lives Matter Plaza was rather calm. A handful of protesters were present, with only a few interacting with the police. Several journalists had set up camera equipment and were capturing footage of the police line. Other people were selling apparel featuring popular slogans and images of George Floyd.

A few, however, took turns giving the police a piece of their mind. Most made explicit mention of racist statues. One man drew a comparison between the statues surrounding the White House and statues of Adolf Hitler.


Statues were also on the mind of Mike, who has been protesting nearly every day for the past several weeks: ‘I’ve been here since the beginning. I come and I go home, ’cause I’m older and I have preexisting conditions,’ he told The Spectator.

Mike is old enough to remember the riots following the death of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 1968. He recognizes a handful of noticeable differences between the two movements.

For one, there is more age and racial diversity among today’s protesters: ‘But ’68 was different because it was mostly black people…this is different because it’s intergenerational.’ Today, the protests have been occurring largely at the centers of power: ‘We’re not tearing up our communities, we’re coming to the root of the problem, which is the government.’

Mike also recalls that the 1968 protests were primarily a product of rage; he says that today, protesters have channeled their emotion into advocating for particular policies.

Mike does not appreciate the presence of the statues, but he believes that they are not the problem: ‘I don’t think nobody really gives a damn about these statues. It’s what the statues represent in our lives that we oppose.’ He wants the statues to be taken down today, then he wants to have a national conversation about them at a later point in time.

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In another part of Black Lives Matter Plaza, a man called John was inviting protesters to sign his $100,000 Audi with slogans and other messages. He explained that he runs a construction business, which has donated food and medical supplies to the protesters.

On Monday night, he received an injury during a scuffle with the police: ‘They did hurt me yesterday. They hit me with a baton…they wanted to destroy my knee, they did it on purpose.’

Like the other demonstrators, John believes that ‘It’s time to stop racism. It’s time to stop the abuse. It’s time to take the power of the police away, because they abuse police powers.’


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