Fort Worth police maintained a low profile throughout Friday evening’s protests. The marches, organizers told me, have grown beyond the recent death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer as three other police officers looked on. Now, protest organizers are finalizing a list of demands (including a call to reallocate Fort Worth police department funds to support public schools and mental health facilities) that the organizers say will be handed over to Mayor Betsy Price and Fort Worth City Council in the near future.
The grassroots marchers organized at three locations: downtown near the Tarrant County Courthouse, Chuy’s in the West 7th corridor, and just north of the nearby Montgomery Plaza. Near Chuy’s, protesters took turns sharing stories about racial injustice.
“My name is Montel,” one early speaker said. “I’m from Ghana. I’m a United States citizen now. As a black man, I felt the heat on me when I saw the police, even though I have done nothing wrong. I’m fearful for my life. We are here for a reason. The reason is for the government to know that we are united. We are made equal by the most high.”
A Fort Worth school district teacher spoke soon after.
“The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t just about police brutality,” the young black man said. “This violence has permeated our schools as well. This is about affordable housing and public school funding. Defunding the police is long overdue. Police departments have had 150 years to get better, and it has only gotten worse. If that money was redirected, if the money to incarcerate black and brown [people] was funneled into our school system, maybe these inequities wouldn’t exist.”
One hour later, a few hundred protesters crossed the West 7th bridge, and the collective group of several hundred marched into the heart of the West 7th corridor. As the protesters stood at the intersection of Currie and Crockett streets, a protest organizer, Nysse Nelson, addressed the crowd through a megaphone.
“Hey, listen up,” she said. “This is their one motherfucking nightmare. They do not want us in the middle of this establishment. But guess what? We here. We gonna be back in this bitch tomorrow and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”
The crowd joined in shouting, “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday!”
Their next destination: Your Mom’s House, the infamous West 7th bar where, last February, a white bartender sported an Afro wig and a Colin Kaepernick jersey with the former NFL quarterback’s name on the back partially blacked out to leave only the letters “P-R-I-C-K.” On the front of his jersey hung a sign that read, “Will stand to play.”
The protesters had not forgotten the gesture (“Kaep Flap at Your Mom’s House,” February 5). I couldn’t make out the exact language that the black protesters were yelling at the handful of white bouncers out front, but their body language suggested outrage. Despite the heated scene, protesters kept their promise of nonviolence. The mass gathering then marched to Montgomery Plaza for one last peaceful rally before protesters returned home to prepare for another day of protests Saturday.