'You Fired Up? Good. Vote!' Says Protester At Racine Black Lives Matter Car Caravan
On the eighth day of protests in Wisconsin over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, demonstrations were held in a number of cities.
In Racine Friday evening, a coalition of community groups, including Voces de la Frontera and the NAACP, organized a car caravan that led to the county courthouse. Cars were decorated in support of Black Lives Matter, painted with words like “no justice, no peace,” sporting signs and even a Mexican flag.
People attending the protest say now is the time for change, including Carl Fields, who understands the fall-out from racial inequality. He’s a leader of EX-incarcerated People Organizing and program manager at The Hospitality Center, a Racine shelter affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.
Fields says the large-scale protests in multiple cities are different than anything he’s experienced before. He participated in the caravan of more than 100 cars driving 2 miles from Racine’s Roosevelt Park to the courthouse. He says the way George Floyd was mistreated and the way the officials in Minnesota are responding is unprecedented.
"There is no corner to hide in," he says. "There is no ‘this guy had a weapon,’ there is no ‘he was a menace, he was violent' ... Everything about this scenario screams a different kind of outcome because of a different kind of approach. We’re tired of this, and everybody around the world clearly tired of this, and they’re with us."
One thing Fields is thrilled about though, is people getting energized during an election year.
"You fired up? Good. Vote," he says. "Vote on it. Go to the polls at every turn. Don’t be scared away from the polls. Don’t be scared away from a candidate, go and find out about that candidate. You got two options, go see which one is the most likely to represent your issue."
Fields says political choices can impact the issue of police brutality. He says most police chiefs are appointed by people who are elected and tax dollars get allocated to them through every city budget in the country.
"And we want to do something about that, reallocate those tax dollars to make sure they go to community programming that is separate and apart from law enforcement altogether. Do that, and I guarantee you they'll start getting their act together."
There was a large contingent of Latino protesters and young people from Youth Empowered in the Struggle, the student affiliate of Voces de la Frontera. Kasandra Arias, 16, was invited by a friend. This was her first protest.
“Well, as a Latino, I feel like it's there. It's present within like our daily lives like being discriminated just for the color of your skin and your background. So I feel like it's very important to speak out for our brothers and sisters," she says.
Black Lives Matter is more than a movement, it’s about millions of peoples’ lives, says Rayven Craft, a local activist and Carthage College student. As a queer, black woman, she says she faces injustices on a daily basis.
"I've been seeing a lot of allies asking what can I do? What can I do to help? And I know I keep saying this, but the most important thing is truly to just educate yourself. You know, you'll never understand where we're coming from, you'll never be in our shoes," says Craft. "But if you can fight alongside us, and if you can say, 'this is wrong, and I'm not going through this, but this is wrong,' that's, that's where change starts."
Craft says change starts with empathy.