Alright y'all, the decade is coming to an end and I've been busy thinking up cool ideas to bring it to a close in the blogosphere. So I've decided to share my best of the decade with you. You should check in every day and you will find a new entry from now until the end of the decade. (10 in total) What are the topics? You will have to tune it to find out. So here goes the first one:
Best Demonstration attended by Me: Impromptu March in response to the acquittal of the four police officers that shot Amadou Diallo -Albany, NY 2000
I want to make clear that when I use the word "best" here I am referring to the energy of the people during the demonstration. It's hard to use the word "best" to describe anything to do with the trial of those police officers. I have lived in Albany for years and it's not often that we have major national news stories here. At the time of the trial, there were news trucks lining Washington Ave. The only other time I've seen anything like it was the Elliot Spitzer Sex Scandal. To get an idea of how big a story this trial was, I've provided a link to the transcript from Larry King Live on the day of the acquittal.
If you don't know who Amadou Diallo is, well that is a shame (not shame on you, shame on our society for not keeping his name in the forefront of everybody's mind). He was killed in 1999 by four police officers. They fired forty-one bullets at him; nineteen struck his body, killing him. He committed no crime; he was merely on his way home from work. They asked him who he was and he responded by pulling out his wallet, and they "mistook" it for a gun and fired 41 times. The defense attorney for the officers applied for a change of venue, claiming that the cops couldn't receive a fair trial in the Bronx. The trial was moved to Albany.
Thousands of people demonstrated across the street from the courthouse during the trial. I was one of them. Some days there were only a few heads and other days there were hundreds. Al Sharpton came on more than one occasion. Rosa Clemente, recent Green Party Vice-Presidential Nominee, was one of the chairs of the local organizing group, the Justice for Diallo Committee (J4D). Most of us were well aware that the cops may be acquitted, but I can say I was shocked when it actually happened.
The mood outside the courtroom was anger and disbelief. Our numbers grew. Eventually there was a large group and we needed something to do. We marched up Washington Ave. and the numbers kept on growing. We marched down Lark St towards Clinton Ave, and decided to take over the street. The police, trailing behind, didn't do a thing. I remember feeling like it was our city. Eventually some of us were arrested voluntarily and we had a brief encounter with the Albany Courts before our charges were dismissed. After some time, people moved on.
I learned a lot from that time period. I've learned how there can be an ebb and flow to things. How there can be tremendous amounts of energy one day and none at all the next day. I've been apart of powerful movements for social change. I've witnessed some intense demonstrations but I've never felt the power of my community and the possibilities of our strength, the way I did that day. I hope I will again soon and I hope it doesn't take someone to get killed for it to happen.
Honorable mention: A16 IMF/World Bank Demonstration -Washington D.C. 2000; Millions for Mumia -Philadelphia 1999 (It didn't actually happen this decade but it's my list)