(Videos + Pictures of 5 protests below)
In the wake of the Ferguson non-indictment decision, we all saw how protests broke out around the country, but here in Vegas, where protests don’t often attract huge crowds, the reaction was at first predictably quiet. But within a few days, different groups started organizing protests. And they got bigger. And bigger, and my favorite ever, over and over. These are the ones I’ve been to so far, post-decision. I’ll get into a little bit of my take on the “so what now” after these highlights.
On Nov. 25th I attended a “chalking” protest in front of Metro, along with some members of Nevada Cop Block and others, in which we chalked the front sidewalk of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters, the entire length from corner to corner. They hold these kind of anti-police brutality protests often. This group consisted of maybe 10-15 people. Pictures of that are below.
(Pictures by Jason Nellis)
We decided to meet the next day at the Regional Justice Center for more chalking and a march to Fremont, joined by many others. The group grew to about 40 or more people at one point, and one young man was arrested on Fremont St. and Las Vegas Blvd. after he sat in the intersection as a form of protest which we’ve been seeing all over the country lately. Most of the group had walked ahead and lost him, but I was one of the people staying back and catching videos which you can see below. After that, we regrouped and blocked 4th Street at Fremont, and within about 10 seconds a detention van and police car blocked the street ahead of us. After about 10 minutes of chants, we left before they could bring in the goon squad to arrest us. (This day, November 26th, was extra special for me since it was the eve of my birthday, and my mother’s birthday earlier this year happened to be the day of the Bundy Ranch standoff that will be the day its remembered for historically- which I got there right at the end of after a 4-mile walk through traffic- but I digress)
Channel 13: Protesters rally against Ferguson decision in downtown Las Vegas (including arrest)
Blocking 4th & Fremont, facing police, as a group:
Then the next week, the Eric Garner decision came. Emotions were stoked more and a protest was held the next day, Dec. 4th, on the strip marching from Fashion Show Mall to Bellagio, where a die-in was held. This was a true highlight of my life, personally a very spiritual moment, as we chanted and had 6 and a half minutes of silence (some live on the news), as I stared up into the rare Vegas fog and a solitary star or planet, hand in hand with a person laying next to me, thinking about Garner and all those killed by police, and then going along to Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us”, then standing up raising our chants such as “Stand Up Vegas” above the loud music of the Bellagio water Show… and then we marched back to the mall. I’d say at least somewhere around 150-200 people were there at its peak.
Channel 13 LIVE BREAKING NEWS: (hey ma I’m on the ground!)
Group gathers on Las Vegas Strip to protest police brutality
Channel 13 11pm Newscast (same title, but edited):
Las Vegas Strip Police Brutality Protest (video I shot):
The next day was the First Friday protest (Dec. 5th), one we knew would be big, consisting of about 4 groups which merged at various points, culminating on Fremont in the largest group yet of maybe 300 or more people. We held at least 5 die-ins, including one right in one of the busiest intersections in the world, Charleston and Las Vegas Blvd., until police got pretty impatient. Another one was on Fremont East, the block lined with the most popular bars with locals and hipsters of the past several years, now getting dominated by Zappos. The most poignant die-in I’d say was by Casino Center and Charleston in the middle of the First Friday festival, which started with each of us who had a balloon for one of the fallen saying “I am” each name on the balloon (for example, I happened to receive the Eric Garner balloon, so I said “I am Eric Garner”) and then releasing it into the sky, then laying down into the die-in. We kept the police guessing where we’d turn next for hours, walking I’d say at least a good 7+ miles in circuits around downtown. We got several mass threats from the police but it remained peaceful, and two protesters in Anonymous masks were arrested. I’m still trying to find out who they were. (If anyone has a tip, please let me know, at the bottom of this blog) Here are pictures and videos:
“Hands Up Don’t Shoot” Protest Erupts in Family-Friendly Container Park:
Las Vegas First Friday Protesters:
Protest March Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont East):
Kneeling with balloons for the fallen, watching poets and more speak:
Channel 13 Fremont Street Protest (skewed thanks to Rodeo clowns):
After that there was another protest I couldn’t make it to, and I’ve collected myself and my crumbling knee and all the pictures and videos together, until this protest last night, Tuesday the 10th, took place, another history maker. We started at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and made our way up to the Bellagio, then back down to City Center. We staged a die-in on the walkway from Planet Hollywood to Cosmopolitan and about half of us blocked the strip in front of Bellagio. Police were not happy with this and surrounded us, and issued threats for several minutes while we drowned them out with our chants (I honestly couldn’t hear the police). We finished the night with no arrests though. At one point early on, where there was less traffic and minimal lights, when we were marching down the street with no cops around, a very aggressive pickup truck driver sped up and laid continuously on his horn right behind several people right next to me. I got it all on camera, one video below from Facebook and the end on Bambuser (poorer quality), as he is far behind, nowhere in sight, then suddenly he is right behind us honking and pushing as close as possible, as if he is about to run us over, and even gets to following a guy literally about an inch behind him. We clear the way and he speeds off as soon as we’re maybe an inch out of his way. This made me pretty angry but other than that it was a peaceful protest, another success.
Channel 13: Protesters gather on Las Vegas Strip to end police brutality
March from Welcome Sign to Strip – Truck driver acts like he’ll run us over:
When he almost hits guy and speeds off from an inch away, right next to me:
Cops surround us (Vine):
Beverly Yuen Thompson’s strip standoff video from the sidewalk:
Planet Hollywood to Cosmopolitan walkway die-in:
Marching by M&M/Coca-Cola World (“Snap Into Reality, Stop Police Brutality”):
Can’t wait for the next, and new creative forms of protest to be put into play. I guarantee it will get even more interesting. Want to know why I’m involved (or about my choices of signs)? That’s for another post or page, or a discussion for you to start, in which case you can comment or contact me personally using the contact form below; also to find out personally when any upcoming protests will be.
In short, we stand for justice, for the thousands upon thousands (now that we know it’s been over 1,000 just this year) of people killed by police, especially the unarmed, innocent, and discriminated against. We see time and time again how so many are unjustified, but the “justice” system declares them justified. From Eric Garner, to the Ayotzinopa 43, to Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, to so many more, we stand in solidarity, and the point has been reached when the people cannot be silent any longer. What happens from here… needs to be figured out, and not met with violence. Clearly the government wants its guard dogs to attack whenever opportunities arrive, and provoke us so they can “justify” taking us all down. We need to be smart about this. This is chess to them and they think they’ve mastered the game.
#JusticeforEricGarner #LasVegasforFerguson #ICantBreathe #LVStandUp #VegasStandUp #WhoDoYouServe #NoJusticeNoPeace @LVprotests @NVCopBlock @jazoof