Tensions flared yesterday evening after Fort Worth police arrested two protest leaders — Lucid Shinobi for interfering with public duties and Nysse Nelson for giving false or fictitious information to a peace officer (“Protest Leaders Arrested Shortly After Meeting Mayor and Police Chief,” June 14).
The arrests came several hours after protest leaders met with Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus, and other city leaders to discuss protester demands that include demilitarizing the police, removing police from Fort Worth and Crowley public schools, and establishing a mental health treatment center as part of a jail diversion program.
“Last night was pathetic,” Enough Is Enough president Rod Smith said. “It was a cowardly move on behalf of Fort Worth PD. They do these things as scare tactics. We are not scared or intimidated.”
The protests started across the globe late last May after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white police officer as three other officers watched nearby. Fort Worth’s protests were headed by several groups, including United My Justice and Enough Is Enough, but now that United My Justice has said they are going to focus on “actively working with community leaders and city officials” to affect legislative and systemic changes, Enough Is Enough, Black Lives Matter, and Black Love FW make up the numbers in the streets now.
Last week, this group began marching into local businesses and chanting. Police did not stop them when they were in the West 7th corridor, but police made the arrests when the protesters started infiltrating downtown establishments.
Last evening, protesters prepared for a silent march as they pinned notes to their shirts that read, “With all due respect officer, I wish to invoke my Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. I do not answer questions from law enforcement without my attorney present nor do I agree to a search of my person or property. I would like to leave now. Am I free to go?”
The crowd of more than 100 then marched silently to nearby Sundance Square Plaza. Nearby restaurants were open but largely empty. As the protesters reached the plaza, they fanned out while holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter” and “White Silence Is Violence.” The crowd stood for several minutes near outdoor customers at Del Frisco’s Grille.
After signing his check, one non-black male restaurant customer told the protesters, “November 3rd. That’s when we make a difference.”
That evening, protesters remained uniformly silent. Enough Is Enough organizers pledged to not give police an excuse to arrest members of the movement. Protest leader Roy Montelongo used periodic stops to discuss the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects poor and minority students.
“The school-to-prison pipeline starts in kindergarten,” he said. “When our brothers and sisters get in trouble, they know they have to speak to police officers. Our kids grow up fearing police officers. The school-to-prison pipeline is set up for our brothers and sisters to fail. That’s why we say to remove police from the schools. Instead of going to see police officers, you need to see someone who will actually help them, guide them, and lead them in the right direction.”
Research by Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit public-interest law center, has shown that suspensions are often the first disciplinary actions in a chain of events that disproportionately target black children and end with incarceration. Texas prisons are disproportionately filled with high school dropouts, the nonprofit shows.
“Give yourself a round of applause,” Montelongo told the crown as they returned to the Tarrant County Courthouse. “I gave you homework. Go home and research the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Montelongo said his group will begin fundraising for the new mental health facility that is at the core of Enough Is Enough’s demands. Community service projects in the Stop Six neighborhood are also planned, he said.