RED TO BLUE

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced June 29 that the Michelle De La Isla campaign has met the requirements to be one of 24 races it supports with staff and funds. Red to Blue is a highly competitive program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fund-raising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns. Come November, these candidates and others will take on House Republicans across the country — and fight to flip these seats from Red to Blue..

BLACK LIVES MATTER IN LAWRENCE

BY JOE DOUGLAS

On Saturday, June 27, someone put a large poster or banner leaning on a lamp post in South Park. The poster appeared to show George Floyd being lynched by Black Lives Matter (BLM). It was accompanied by a statement equating BLM with a lynch mob and referring to people apparently who were killed by rioters in recent protests. The poster evoked an angry response with demands for investigation of this as a hate crime. Many people gathered at South Park and blocked Massachusetts Street for some time. Tents were set up, and protesters took over this space. I did not hear about this until Monday, and I stopped by then partly out of curiosity and partly with a wish to provide some support, at least by being present.

When I arrived, there were several tents, a table overflowing with food, music playing, and a hundred or so people mostly in the street. Most of the crowd were white, most seemed under 30 or so, and nearly all were wearing masks. People handed out water and offered hand sanitizer. There was some chanting, people speaking. Women were being organized to stand arm in arm across Massachusetts facing north at the north end of the park. Someone asked for others to block the street a little to the south, so I walked down there.

In the middle of the park, just before the pedestrian crosswalk and stoplight, a group was forming in the middle of the street. A small silver colored car appeared heading north. People converged on the car, and the car appeared to push forward at them. A protester opened the passenger door, and then the driver’s door was opened. At one point, a young man appeared to consider tearing off the passenger door. The driver was a woman about sixty. There was a good deal of somewhat disorganized shouting. The protesters were angry. No one was clearly in charge, though some people tried to convince the woman to turn around. Finally, someone urged the group to move away from the car (“Don’t touch the car”) but still blocking it. The driver got out briefly and was screaming, “Let me go.” She seemed mostly frightened and frantic. About then, someone said the police were going to put up official barricades on both ends of the street, and we needed to let cars through until that was done. The car finally moved on to the north.

Some observations. Most of the protesters were white and young, and they played supportive roles. This was a largely Black led event. The mood overall seemed friendly and positive, but the tone of the demonstration was righteous anger at chronic injustice. Anger boiled over readily when there was an immediate provocation. The situation with the car was dangerous to all and could have been much worse with a belligerent driver. The young people seemed much too ready to see this scared woman as the enemy. Many people carried signs supporting BLM, though some were aimed specifically at police. A young woman carried a sign “F*** U Pigs” back and forth at the crosswalk. Was she feeling their pain or just rebelling against authority (or both)? What was I, an old white guy, doing there? Was I ready to be at personal risk or inconvenience to support this cause? Was I just reliving the sense of purpose and the camaraderie of the years of anti-war protests just across the street?

Above all, there was a powerful energy in the group and clearly a belief that the time has come when change can happen—when the people can make it happen. I think they may be right. This and other demonstrations have been rather disorganized, and the goals sometimes vague and not fully thought out. As Democrats, I think we can empathize both with the hopes and the demands and with the chaotic process. We do need to support this crucial movement in whatever ways we can.

“When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.” – Thomas L. Friedman

CHANGE YOURSELF

BY JENA GROTH

I spoke with one of my friends who is a black and Native American activist in town about what resources she would recommend for white allies who are interested in doing our own work on white privilege. She recommends that everyone like BLACK Lawrence on Facebook and to stay tuned through the month of July for daily posts and events about black history, black artists in our neighborhoods, and a reflection on current events.
Our newsletter readers can read here: facebook.com/blacklawrenceartscollective/
also see: facebook.com/BLMLFK

We no longer can afford the luxury of acting without regard to the effect on others. It is not enough to say, “I didn’t mean it that way.” The tattoo of the Confederate flag chosen by a teenager to honor his favorite band clearly will be seen by many as racist, hateful, threatening. And social interactions are just one sort of expression of racism or white privilege. Being aware of our possible effect on others certainly applies to our pandemic behavior as well. Now seems the best opportunity in generations for us to become more self aware and to make substantial changes toward equality for all.

“Voting for a third party is equivalent to staying home on election day and pouting.” – I don’t recall who said it, but whoever it was got it right.