There were about 30 people — young, old, overwhelmingly White but also Black and Brown. They stood in front of a suburban city hall, on a road unsafe for bike riders (although a family of four did, indeed, show up on bikes*) and held signs. Jews for Justice. Asians for Black Lives Matter. If You Are Silent, You Are on the Wrong Side of History.
They distanced themselves the full length of Dunwoody City Hall and momentarily escaped the glaring mid-day sun by sitting in a bus shelter (where no bus comes anymore due to service cuts during the coronavirus pandemic), next to which stood a U.S. Census sign that said Be Counted. You could count the names of Black Americans killed by cops on the sign a woman held right next to it.
Every time the nearby traffic lights changed and cars and trucks roared by (in this business district that hosts the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the southeastern United States), you heard the honking of support. You saw the waves and fist pumps.
There were no kneeling police chiefs or city leaders when I was there (but information I gained afterwards indicates this protest went on all day as protestors came and went for a total of about 300; and the police chief and mayor did, indeed, participate); there were no tanks or tear gas; there was no use of bikes as weapons** (all of which has been seen elsewhere). But there was a little boy with a scribbled sign that said Black People Should Be Treated Fairly, and a gray-haired lady with one that said A Change Is Gonna Come.
Right here in suburbia.
* in metro Atlanta’s Everything Will Be OK city where temporary safe-access-for-all during the pandemic was requested on March 20 and denied. Note: We shouldn’t have to beg.
** I do know that a large number of police officers of this local police force were trained in bike skills (see my post and photo about that), although I don’t know if using a bike as a weapon was part of that training. Note: I almost never see any of them around the city on bikes (even though this city was recently the first city to adopt a Vulnerable Road User ordinance in the southeastern United States — you can see my video about that here, but warning, it’s super long. In fact, it’s almost as long as the length of time that Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck).
(FYI: During this pandemic, I’m Traveling at the Speed of Bike almost exclusively in the confines of this city on varying routes an average of 5-15 miles per day, and never without BikeNoodle. I normally ride most often in the City of Atlanta up to 5 days a week to do research for my writing. As I’m continuing to shelter-in-place, I haven’t been there for twelve weeks and have not had the opportunity to bear witness as a street photographer at the protests there, as I have during other protests. I hope this small post, and others I have written, serves to shine a small light on stories that need telling.)
If interested, take my bike class via text. Enjoy the Peace Corps essay. See my other blog about growing food, knowledge, and community. Check out my books. And, as always, touch base if I can be of any help.