There were a few Black Lives Matter protests here in Somerville over the weekend. I didn’t go out much at all myself this weekend, so I was mostly aware of them only from the perspective of seeing them from my apartment window. I was sick on Saturday, so going out then seemed like a bad idea. On Sunday, I was feeling better, and did go out for a couple of walks, but going outside during the protests still seemed like a bad idea, just from the perspective of the possible COVID-19 exposure. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I’m an old man with some health issues, so… maybe I’m not paranoid.
Anyway, judging purely from what I could see from my window, it seemed like there were just a handful of kids, mostly white, protesting on Saturday. I think that might have been just a group of well-meaning local high school students or something. That was a little amusing, but still nice to see.
Early afternoon on Sunday, there was a much larger group, still mostly young, but much more mixed, that marched up and down Main St several times. This group stuck to the sidewalks. I’d estimate 100 to 200 people total. They were probably marching for an hour or so, and I’m guessing they were going back and forth from the courthouse to town hall, based on the timing of when they were passing by outside.
A couple of hours later, a much larger group came by, this time marching right down the middle of the road, stopping traffic. There must have been hundreds of people, but I can’t say how many. They were quite loud and there were a lot of them. The group was definitely mixed: young and old, adults and children, white and black. Everything I saw was entirely peaceful, and I didn’t see any police presence at all.
This article from MyCentralJersey seems to be covering the earlier Sunday protest. It mentions “hundreds” of protestors, and has a bunch of photos, but they only show people on the sidewalks. This one from TapInto seems to be covering both the earlier and later protests. It mentions “1000+” protestors, and has some photos of people marching in the street. And here’s an article from Patch briefly covering protests in Somerville, Manville, and Franklin.
Apparently, there were some organized speeches and activity on the courthouse lawn prior to the marches on Sunday. It would have been cool to have been able to go down and check some of that out. But I didn’t know about any of this prior to seeing it pass by my window. And, if I did, I still would not have felt safe mixing with such a large crowd.
I don’t have anything really useful to add to any of the discussion on these issues, other than to say that it’s inspiring to see how many people seem to be engaged and concerned about this stuff now. I don’t know how many of these folks are going to vote in November. I don’t know how many of them are going to remain engaged, once this stuff fades from the news. I remember the shooting of Amadou Diallo in 1999. We all hoped things would change after that, and, well, that was twenty years ago. But I don’t remember anybody protesting in Somerville in 1999. So maybe there’s finally enough momentum now to change things. We’ll see.