HOUSTON, Texas – An event billed as “Solidarity Protest: Freddie Gray, Baltimore, BlackLivesMatter” was held at the upscale Houston Galleria on Saturday. The protest was mostly attended by those wanting to bring (in their words) “social awareness” to the issues facing Blacks in America. They had very serious things to say but the atmosphere was calm, peaceful, and at times, even festive.
A few brave souls with signs supporting the men and women “In Blue” were there, but they were very much outnumbered.
Cars driving by the protesters honked in support of the protest. An employee of a nearby store owner was not so supportive.
The event has been largely unreported by the media but Breitbart Texas was there.
A common complaint of the protesters is there is a tendency of the media to report about Blacks only when there is something negative to say.
These peaceful protesters had very serious things to say, and they wanted others to listen.
The atmosphere was friendly and it was safe for children to be there.
These little ones seemed to understand the problem, and they weren’t merely political pawns for an issue.
Musicians made the event more like the streets of New Orleans on a festive evening. Saxophones, drums, and cymbals helped to create a calm atmosphere.
People of all colors were there, and Hispanics stood next to Blacks and Whites and Asians. One carried a sign – “#Asians4BlackLives” and “End The War On P.O.C.” (People of Color).
Ministers were there, both in, and out of, clerical clothing.
Although the atmosphere was non-threatening, and protesters were even friendly, they had very damning things to say.
Protesters shouted “Indict. Convict. Send killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
They also chanted “No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police,” and “Out of your car, into the streets, if you are sick of killer police.”
The protest lasted about four hours.
The only confrontation witnessed was when an employee of a Galleria merchant walked up to the protesters and told them “You guys GO HOME! I can’t make any money when you are here!”
White, Hispanic and Black Protesters countered her with the question – “Would you be upset if your child got shot?”
Another protester wore a vest that said “F—K YOU POLICE.” He also made a “PEACE sign” with his hands for the camera. He was one of the quietest protesters there.
Although the signs and chants conveyed a strong message, Houston Police officers and protesters walked peacefully together. They even joked among one another.
One officer good-naturedly “photobombed” for the camera.
Protesters rarely yelled directly at the police.
Once protesters began marching up Westheimer Boulevard and through the Galleria shopping area, officers of the Houston Police Mounted Patrol seemingly emerged from nowhere. Officers said they followed protesters in case there was any attempt to block traffic, or become disruptive. No incidents of this nature occurred.
The Houston Police Department has a solid reputation for keeping protests peaceful. They are skillful at separating opposing sides so conflicts do not flare-up.
Breitbart Texas talked to Sarah Portugal of Houston who was holding a sign that said “WE ARE THE MEDIA. #BLACKLIVESMATTER.” She told Breitbart Texas “We the people are the ones that have the voices.” She said she was upset that “the media portrays black people as inherently violent, and that’s just wrong because it’s not true.” She was angry that the media did not report Blacks in Baltimore protesting peacefully.
Carol Dright of Houston said “there is a national crisis and we cannot just pay attention when they loot and burn down. The anger comes when there is no recourse, when there is hopelessness.” She said “justice should be applied equally.”
When asked if she thought the Baltimore cops were guilty, Dright said “It’s hard to look at the tape and not think something happened, but let the court run its trial. In so many cases there are no charges. At least the process will move forward.”
A protester who rarely spoke, and never gestured, carried a sign “COPS: THE REAL DOMESTIC TERRORIST.”
An unidentified man told another journalist “Do not prejudge us. They are killing Black men and women, and they are shooting first and asking questions later.”
Shere Dore said she “wanted to make it clear that she was protesting police violence.” Dore said “there are some good cops, it’s not the whole police force. We don’t hate them. We just want the violence to stop.” We need a change in the police culture in Baltimore, and this needs to extend everywhere.”
Cherece Alton who is from Ferguson, Mo., but is now living in Houston told Breitbart Texas “It’s unsurprising. This has been happening. It is unfortunate for it to become mainstream news for it to get attention.” She said “It’s an issue. It’s a systemic issue.” She said she was “here because I want to bring attention to it so it does not perpetuate the cycle.” Alton was holding a sign that said “LET’S BRING JUSTICE TO THE REST OF AMERICA.”
Rev. Hannah Bonner, a Methodist clergy member who received her Masters of Divinity from Duke University told Breibart Texas “We built an economy on making people of African descent property. Now that they are no longer property, we value property more which is why we are giving more attention to riots and property destruction.” She was there to bring attention to “the killing of unarmed black men.” She said “We want people to understand why this is happening.”
The young minister said “if a young Black man jogs at night, he is seen as a criminal instead of jogging. If I do it, I am seen as a young woman who is working out.” She said it is unfortunate that “Black men are afraid to go out at night.”
Vanessa, a Black woman from Southeast Texas told Breitbart Texas “Our kids are afraid of police because they watch TV just like we do. I am here to support people who are losing their children. This is not a game, our brothers and sisters are losing their lives every day.” She emphasized – “It’s 2015!”
Some of the protesters carried signs mentioning Jordan Baker, a twenty-six year old unarmed black man who was killed in January of 2014. A Houston Police Department officer was cleared of wrongdoing by a Harris County, Texas grand jury.
Derrick Cavaco was one of the individuals who came out to support the men and women “In Blue”. He carried a sign “#BLUELIVESMATTER.” Cavaco told Breitbart Texas “I guess I just came out here because people are ripping on our Houston Cops. I came out here to support them.”
Directing his head in the area of the protesters, he asked, “What would they do if someone broke into their car, or if one of them were shot?”
“These officers risk their lives everyday,” he said.
Cavaco continued, “Some think that cops are just driving around looking for black people to kill. Let’s just be honest. Where is the case where a cop just shot a Black kid on a bike?”
Jennifer Bates, the wife of a Houston Police Department officer said she “was out here to show her support so they know we support them. We see and hear from those who are anti-police, but I am here to support them.”
The protesters who seem very focused and on a mission were wearing t-shirts from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
One of these individuals, a woman who identified herself as “Sonia,” shouted into a microphone – “Slavery. Jim Crow. Now new Jim Crow. That’s right for the system.” She said “Three strikes and you’re out!”
Sonia urged protesters to join the “Movement for Revolution” and said they needed to do so “in greater numbers”.
She yelled – “Revolution and nothing else,” and “Transform the people for revolution.” She carried a clip board as she walked with the protesters.
Protesters urged “White, Hispanic, and Black Moms” to attend the Million Mom March In Washington, D.C. on May 9th, the day before Mother’s Day.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2