As we were making our way to the protests Downtown through Ea-Do, we were greeted by black cowboys in George Floyd shirts riding their horses to the protest. Prior to this, the only horses I had encountered at protests were mounted patrol units, so it was beautiful to see protestors with horses. By the time we made it to Discovery Green, the march to City Hall was about to get underway. The atmosphere at the protest was mesmerizing: thousands upon thousands of people—mostly youth—taking to the streets against structural racism and institutionalized police violence. Everywhere I looked, my eyes caught vibrant signs that reflected these sentiments, demanding racial equality and an end to criminalizing black bodies.
Brandishing a Keffiyeh—a black-and-white scarf symbolizing Palestinian nationalism—my partner and I marched alongside a Palestinian contingent protesting the heinous murder of George Floyd. The banner we marched with read “Palestinians for Black Liberation,” which was popularly received throughout the protest. Every few minutes, people would stop to ask for photographs of the banner—or to be photographed alongside it. At one point when our contingent moved to the sidelines to regroup and distribute water and snacks to protesters, scores of protestors shouted, “Free Palestine!” while others cheered loudly in support as they walked past. At one point, an elderly black activist from the march joined us and began engaging with passing protesters on the shared struggles and the rich lineage of Black-Palestinian solidarity, urging those passing by to read up on Palestine and America’s role in supporting and sustaining Israeli colonial rule in Palestine.
The protest in Houston against the structures of white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence that took the life of a Houston soul was by far the largest I had witnessed in my short time living in Houston. An older activist I interacted with informed me that they had not witnessed such mass mobilizations here since the 1970s. Though this protest was coopted from the onset by Mayor Sylvester Turner and HPD chief Art Acevedo, many in attendance made it clear that this movement is also geared toward ending police violence in Houston. As we marched, protestors chanted the names of the six people murdered by the HPD since late April. These chants were a reminder that behind the publicity stunt engineered by Acevedo lie a viciously brutal police force.
As soon as the march dwindled down by the time we returned to Discovery Green, police in riot gear began to descend onto the streets from every single corner to encircle and kettle protestors into tight spaces to charge and arrest them with trespassing on private property. Now that most of the protestors had left and nightfall approached, unit after unit, armed to the teeth, clustered to barricade and harass the remaining protestors. Moments after, protestors began scrambling in all directions after the first canisters of teargas and flashbangs were projected onto the public. I left shortly after to make my night-shift as an online educator, hoping that the massive turn-out that day would expand and grow in Houston into waves of mass resistance that have developed across other major cities in the United States.
By Anonymous. Photo Credit: Local photographer Ashton Cotton | @ashtoox