On the afternoon of June 3, the sixth day of the national protests over the murder of George Floyd, four neighborhood residents were relaxing in Lincoln Park eating snacks they had retrieved from their backpacks. Two of them wore Black Lives Matter t-shirts. A white stranger pushing a stroller approached and accused them of plotting to vandalize the park.
The incident was captured on a video that was provided anonymously to The Hill Rag.
“I know what you’re planning to do now. I already know what you’re planning to do. I’ve got 14 people with eyes on the park with air rifles waiting to take care of this if someone…” the accuser said in the video. He asked whether the four were planning to deface the park. He then demanded to know what they had in their bags.
One of the four denied any plans for vandalism. “You came at me because we are wearing Black Lives Matter T-Shirts,” she retorted.
“Yes, of course,” the accuser replied. “That is who is doing the violence.”
“I don’t want it (Lincoln Park) torn up like the rest of DC. And by the way, everyone who lives on the park feels the same way,” he told the camera.
The man identified himself on the video as a nearby resident.
According to Jeni Schoemaker, a founding member of the Friends of Lincoln Park, the views of the man captured on the video are not representative of nearby residents. Nor was she aware of any persons guarding the park with air rifles.
“I don’t believe anyone in my community wants to see parts of their neighborhood destroyed but vigilante justice isn’t a solution,” Schoemaker said. “Overwhelmingly the protests for black lives matter have been peaceful, and I have not witnessed any destruction in the park.”
US Park Police received no reports of vandalism or damage at Lincoln Park over the past two months, a spokesperson stated. In addition, according to Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) DC, an organization moving white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability, those who participate in the rare cases of violence rarely overlap with those who march peacefully as protestors.
“Supporters of Black Lives Matter are demanding an end to police killings, brutality, and racial profiling that we know DC police perpetuate through stop-and-frisk,” a SURJ representative stated. The organization encourages white people to examine their unconscious biases about what they think the Black Lives Matter represents.
SURJ-DC suggests white community members ask themselves:
- Why is this man more concerned with park property than he is outraged by police taking black lives?
- Why he assumes to know someone’s motivations without asking them their intentions first?
- Why does he think he has the right to search their bags?
- Why associate all Black Lives Matter supporters with violence, but not associate all police with the violence committed by “a few bad apples”?
- Do you want to be on the right side of history in the fight against racial injustice?
“Empathy and open-mindedness are what is needed right now, but this man rushed to judge the motivations of people who simply wore shirts that expressed the view that black lives are systemically shortened by police brutality, racism and the lack of justice in the criminal justice system,” the representative said commenting on the Lincoln Park incident.
Note: the Hill Rag chose to blur the image of the man in green because we were unable to identify and contact him for comment. The video was submitted with faces of the other parties, who asked for anonymity, already blurred.
Learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement by visiting Black Lives Matter DC on www.blacklivesmatterdmv.org or follow them on Twitter at @DMVBlackLives.
Learn more about SURJ-DC by visiting surjdc.com