To Dream of Justice

Silence. Terrible, unceasing silence. That is what’s left after watching George Floyd plead for his life, crying “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Horrifying, deafening silence. It’s the calm before the raging storm.

Toss.

I close my laptop, unable to stare at the screen any longer. I pace back and forth in my room. Posters stare at me. The eyes in pictures follow my every movement. Something inside me is reaching the surface, demanding to be heard. Previously, I could ignore this feeling. Previously, I could tell myself that there is nothing I can do. I stayed silent. But no more.

I decide to create a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I contact friends and family members. I ask them to spread the word. Then, I make posters, each with a different message, yet equally important. I spread the word on social media, declaring the protest to my 34 followers.

Stretch.

After three days, everything is prepared. I stand on the corner of Johnson and Main and wait for others to show up. It feels like an eternity. Then, I see them. They are clad in hazmat gear and Black Lives Matter T-shirts, running shoes and signs. Four hundred of my friends, family, classmates, and strangers have come to help me and help our community. It brings tears to my eyes. I stand on the hood of my car, hoping everyone can see me. I take a deep breath, calm my nerves. I bring a megaphone to my lips and say, “What’s his name?” They respond, “George Floyd!”

“What did he say?”

“I can’t breathe!”

“What did he say?”

“I can’t breathe!”

Inhale. Exhale.

I smile, feeling empowered. I get down from on top of my car and march towards the nearest police station. As we walk, we chant, “No justice, no peace!” over and over again, feeling that no one can stop us.

When we get to the police station, my heart stops. I can’t breathe. What stands before us is my worst nightmare. A blockade of police surrounds the station, holding guns and shields. I lock eyes with an officer and I see no emotion. I step forward, shaking. I turn on the megaphone and say, “No justice!”

Those behind me scream, “No peace!”

The officers look at each other, as if they are confirming what they’re about to do. They begin to walk towards us in a slow and orderly fashion. We stand our ground. They stop just a few feet away from us. Then, a miracle happens. They kneel. One by one, they put down their weapons and kneel. It is an incredible, almost magical moment. I turn to face the crowd behind me. I raise a fist. They raise theirs. I say, “What do we want?”

Protesters and police alike answer, “Justice!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

“I said what do we want?”

“Justice!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

I turn to face the police officers who I ask to stand. I then ask if they would like to walk back with us. They agree. And without another word, we march back to the corner of Johnson and Main, knowing we’ve made a difference.

Wake.

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