Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
Hundreds of demonstrators in dozens of cities marched for the memory of Michael Brown and other young black men whose lives were cut short.
In cities all across the nation—from Portland, Maine to Carson City, Nevada—community organizers assembled demonstrations for a National Moment of Silence (#NMOS) Thursday night. An incomplete list put out by Ebony lists nearly 90 participating cities. Some of the events drew hundreds of people, who gathered to chant, sing, pray, march, and most definitely Instagram in solidarity with Michael Brown and other victims of discrimination and injustice.
In my city, Washington, D.C., hundreds of community members met in Malcolm X Park. From there they marched down U Street NW, the historic black cultural corridor that is the face of gentrification in Washington today. Maybe 500 people marched together, carrying signs about the August 9 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. They marched through the intersection of 14th Street and U, the site of the largest spontaneous party I have ever witnessed, the night of President Barack Obama's first election victory. They marched down to 7th, past the cell-phone shop that plays go-go too loud, turning not toward Howard University as I had heard they intended but toward Chinatown, the commercial heart of the city.
Only twice, maybe three times have larger crowds gathered in the residential neighborhoods of D.C. in the last decade or so (and I am discounting anything involving tourists here): President Obama's election and protests over the war in Iraq. This march had parts of both of those events. The air was celebratory, maybe because the fever in Ferguson finally broke last night. Protesters marched with resolve. It was an airing of grievances among a community who seemed to feel a shared loss: of Michael Brown, of Ezell Ford, of John Crawford and many others. Of Emmett Till. This event (and many others around the nation, I'm sure) felt like a milestone for D.C., and it was touching to observe.
Police riding motorcycles, driving squad cars, and walking on foot guided the march, doing normal traffic-cop stuff. Maybe it was just the absence of armored vehicles and tear gas, or maybe because many D.C. cops are actually black, but there seemed to be an easier air between D.C. police and protesters than I might have expected. Whatever it was, police in New York did not get the memo. Late last night, Twitter blazed with warnings about detentions and "kettling" in Union Square and Times Square, where demonstrators may have numbered in the thousands.
I left the marchers before they reached their final destination. Checking in on one livestream (because naturally there are livestreams of marches now) and more than 39,000 others were also watching. What they saw looked like the #NMOS events in many other cities.
In New York:
In San Francisco:
In Los Angeles:
And, of course, in Ferguson: