Protests have become a daily part of life for downtown Fort Worth and the West 7th corridor over the past nine days. The movement began in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer as three other police officers looked on, but has quickly grown into a sustained call for political, economic, and criminal justice reform throughout Fort Worth and Tarrant County. And the world.
Early on, what appeared as a single movement was in reality a collaboration between several smaller factions and groups, including United My Justice, Black Lives Matter, and Shinobi’s Defenders, among others. Over the past few days, leaders of those factions have united toward a common cause.
Lucid Shinobi, one protest organizer and an active producer/songwriter, met me at Sundance Square Plaza to describe the protesters’ demands and to shed light on the philosophies that shape the movement’s goals.
What Fort Worth saw during the first week of protests, Shinobi said, was Phase 1: unification. By marching together and working together, the various factions of the protests proved that they could trust and rely on one another, Shinobi said.
Nine days into the protests, the movement has moved past Phase 1, but what exactly that means remains a secret. Shinobi said protest organizers are careful to not reveal their cards too openly. There is a playbook, he said, but it’s one that is open to a multitude of possible endings.
Protest organizers are finalizing a list of demands that will be sent to Mayor Betsy Price and city councilmembers soon. Shinobi said topping the list will be a demand that all protesters arrested last Sunday have their charges dropped. He described that day as the “police riots.”
The final list of demands will likely include a call for diverting significant portions of Fort Worth police department funding toward public schools and mental health resources. Some protesters have called for the complete defunding of all local law enforcement agencies.
Also high on the minds of march organizers are reparations. Shinobi was quick to dispel what has been a common misunderstanding of what reparations mean to the black community.
“They think all we want are chains and jewelry,” he said. “Their mindset is so corrupt, they think that is all we want. The United States was made for us to be free and happy. People want to see their friends and family prosper. Our reparations are going to be equality in every dimension.”
Access to free higher education and free or affordable healthcare are forms of reparations that can tilt the economic scales back in favor of minorities, he said.
Shinobi said that he and his comrades have a long-term plan that is currently playing out. The city’s heightened state of security is driving up law enforcement costs as police work to secure protests while maintaining normal police patrols, Shinobi said. The community organizer said part of the aim of the mass protests is to draw attention to the city taxes that are readily available for scaling up law enforcement actions while public schools and infrastructure in poor communities remain underserved.
“The police, the people who don’t believe in this [movement], those people are looking at me as a threat, but they are more dangerous to me than I am to them,” Shinobi said.
For many reasons, Shinobi sees 2020 as the year when America achieves criminal justice reform and significant racial equality progress. COVID-19, and the disproportionate economic hardships endured by minority communities, has made economic inequality plain for all to see, he said. The Black Lives Matter movement is now in its seventh year, and technology has made hate crimes easy to document.
“We don’t have to [wait to] investigate shootings” of unarmed black men, Shinobi said. “I can pull open Twitter and say, ‘Look, this is what is happening. Open your eyes and see that we need help. If you are aren’t going to help, move. Get out of the way because you are expired.’ ”
The music producer-turned-protest organizer said racism may never end, but oppression, especially state-sanctioned oppression and prejudice, can be wiped out within one generation.
“We are going to win,” he said. “We will lose people along the way. My children and their children will [hopefully] have to read history books to know what suppression and prejudice feel like.”