Solidarity at Yesterday’s Protests

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As our reporters chronicled, protesters in both the Bay Area and New York City violated curfews last night to continue calling for justice and an end to police violence (or maybe just an end to the police, full stop). The photos and videos are heartening. “The scene provided a striking contrast to days of images dominated by police aggression,” we noted of uprisings in New York. (I found particular joy in a dance party that broke out here in Oakland three hours after curfew.)

Combine this with the fact that, in the past few days, the protests have led to change—and things that have long been pushed for—across the country. Confederate statues, as our own Camille Squires wrote, are coming down in the South. Lawmakers are pushing to end qualified immunity.

Former President Obama on a Zoom livestream called for a message of hope when looking at the protesters. “There is a change in mindset that’s taking place,” he said. He spoke to the “broad coalition” we’ve seen in the streets. He cautioned against comparing it to the uprisings in 1968. And perhaps for all of us, even if the former president’s message can feel like it’s coming from a distance, there’s a lesson there.

Look at the dancing. Look at the signs. Look at the togetherness. Do not squeeze your eyes to narrowly view this moment in the way the faux-embattled white intellectuals of the late 1960s saw rebellion. One of the most famous documents of the tumultuous demonstrations in 1968 is Norman Mailer’s bombastic, ambivalent, and hyperbolic Miami and the Siege of Chicago. It has its place. Yet it doesn’t feel like it says enough about what’s happening now. I think the images of last night are a better document about what America—that word Mailer loved to toss around—can be.

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