Still working through the footage from July 31, 2018 at the Please Don’t Shoot Me Rally for Thurman Blevins. Part 1 focused on his family and why I find it advantageous to see things from different perspectives. We Will Not Be Silenced was taken from the energizing speech by Leslie Badue. Those few words seem to express the full intent of the crowd she was prepping for the streets. Similar to Perspective Shifts, we focus on a family in Part 2. Nekima Levy-Armstrong is Leslie’s teacher and Marques Armstrong is her husband. All three spoke at the July rally.
We Are Human Beings features Leslie Badue, President of the Minneapolis NAACP. President Badue is a powerful voice for racial justice in Minnesota and the nation. I will not step on her speech any longer than to call your attention to the background noise around the 1:06 mark. As she lists the recent victims of police violence, the loud crashing noise from the demolition site across the street from Government Plaza works to dramatic effect. I wish I could take editorial credit for the sequence, but all that goes to Leslie and the work crew on top of the parking deck.
Beyond the synchronized noise, Badue’s speech was at once grounding and uplifting. It seemed to expand the space we had created by rallying and make it mobile, so we could carry it with us through the streets. Listen to Leslie, again. See what I mean. The next video features Badue’s teacher and predecessor as President of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Armstrong. Nekima covers a lot of ground in less than 5 minutes. Nekima starts with a shout out to the Blevins family for their tireless work, not only for June, but in support of every other person killed by police in recent years. Over the last few years that I have been making videos featuring activists and advocates for racial justice in the streets or any other place, I’ve seen family and friends of previous victims counsel and support those of the latest victim. I don’t want to harp, but re-read the last sentence again. We live in a city that routinely wins livability awards, yet in the very few years I have been paying attention to police killings, it has become possible talk about them in the same way we might describe traffic jams, or sports championships. Previous and latest person shot down by twitchy, ill-trained cops, looking to Bob Kroll for a clue? I know I have been acculturated expect that everyone will listen to me, but it seems pretty clear that we can do better than to continue to let killer cops continue to patrol the streets in search of “fair game”. Dontcha think? Here is why.
Levy-Armstrong praises the activist community, including many of the family members, for their dedication and work. Listening to that part of Nekima’s speech over and again in the studio and following her social media posts about Billy Hughes were the impetus for Voyeur. A privilege confessional and shout out piece for the activist community that I regularly record. I want to reiterate that none of the videos I post are monetized to my bottom line. The videos are my way of dealing with the situations at hand, the ideas expressed, and the emotions that drive it all. I am honored to be given the opportunity to record the people I have featured. It is my hope that the finished films have done justice to your words and fully reflect to respect I have for every person that appears. Even if I think you are a racist bullshit artist that should be put out of public office immediately. Respect is a proportional measure though, so don’t get all excited that we are in the same human race as Kroll or F.A.T. Donald.
Nekima called Mayor Jacob Frey, County Attorney Mike Freeman, Police Federation President Bob Kroll, the MN BCA, and other public officials to account for their weak or racially biased rhetoric. She reminded us that Mike Freeman is up for re-election in 2018. The primaries are next week and the general election in November. Make them pay a price for associating with Kroll, ask them about it at public events, and share Tim Pawlenty’s response. If Bob wants to get into politics, I guess that makes him fair game for candidate Q&A. And yes, I heard what I said right there, but I’m pretty sure that it is true. You decide if I used “fair game” phrase correctly or should be shamed along with Bob Kroll.
The final speaker was Marques Armstrong. His mixture of prayer and a call to the streets was the blessing we needed to put a step into our boots. I may not believe in the Father God to which Marques prays, but I have faith in his belief that God wants him to march the same path as I and will protect us on our way. It is distinctly unlike when George W, Bush told me that he believed God told him to lay waste to Iraq. I had no faith in that belief, even if it was not a lie. It is most definitely nothing like Franklin Graham or Pat Robertson which, if they are Christian at all, are the work of the Devil. Even I can see that. Armstrong’s prayer has real power, so give it another listen. Have faith in it and take strength from his words.
That’s almost it for the rally. The back ground crashes and rumbles marred some speeches to such an extent that I could not make a coherent piece from what remained. The next episode of Justice for June moves to the march but will include snippets from other speakers. Stay tuned. Stay strong.