News Editor, Carlos Holguin recounts his experience at the Breonna Taylor protest in Eureka on Sept. 24.
As I parked a block away from the the Humboldt County Courthouse on Sept. 24, watching community members gather with signs in hand, the name Breonna Taylor emblazoned on so many of them, I wondered just how the night would go.
Over the past months, reports of violence occurring at Black Lives Matter protests from the likes of counter protesters, police and so-called vigilantes have grown, from cities large and small. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as I watched heads turn as I continued to snap photos.
It’s hard to cover a protest, and even harder to cover one when trying to stay objective. When protestors ask you questions about your support and why you are there, it’s hard to create an answer that fits all needs and wants.
No matter how many times the crowd calls for you to say her name, you’re told that replying is compromising to your ethics. God knows I wanted to chant and reply, but I held my tongue.
Some people don’t want you there at all sometimes, afraid that you just pose another risk.
As the march started, taking over street corners and sidewalks before advancing to entire lanes and intersections, the chants grew louder. People peaked out of business doorways, sat on apartment balconies and either silently watched or cheered as the crowd passed. Cars blared their horns behind the procession, only to be met with more cheers and protesters stopping to take in the anger and frustration.
That’s what this was after all, focused and controlled anger at a system that failed not just them, but people like them. Anger at a system that left people in Louisville and around the nation demanding justice.
The tension climbed higher as the sun set, the protestors circling back to the courthouse to pick up any late comers and grow in number, before continuing to take streets and hold traffic. Through it all I stood aside, camera in hand taking photos of the world around me, trying hard to be a fly on the wall. This is not my story, this is not something I needed to be a part of.
When the first car drove through the crowd of protestors, I saw it coming. Both sides stood in a stalemate, with protesters refusing to give an inch to the Mustang as its engine stirred and horn deafened the chants.
Through the lens of the camera I saw bodies get pushed aside and land hard on the concrete, but bounce back just as fast. The anger grew and the few scrapes and bruises
were just fuel and this fire was not ready to die out.
The second car, a large truck who’s black paint blended with the night, was more deliberate. It slowly crawled into and then lulled in the intersection, watching as more and more gathered around it. As I approached the truck, the car shifted into park and the tires turned in place, smoke bellowed from the burnout. It was an arrow notched and aimed.
The car shifted into drive. A few feet in front of me, the car made contact with a protester. There was thud, then a scream.
For a second I froze in place, watching the crowd rapidly part ways.
And then I ran with everything I could for a moment after the truck. I needed a plate, a model, something to help. I watched it after a few minutes disappear on to the highway, before turning back. This was not longer something I could choose to remain objective as a journalist in.
I cannot understand, nor do I want to understand, how hate can grow within a person to the point that they could justify actions like these. A person who willfully chooses to meet progress with aggression is not someone any person should associate with.
Journalistic integrity be damned, I will not stand idly by.
Injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere.
Say her name.