BY TIGER WORKU
(FROM THE SEWARD NEIGHBORHOOD FORUM)
I want to shed some light on what happened on the highway and in our neighborhood late into the night on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and early into the morning on Thursday, Nov. 5.
Pro-democracy protests took place all across the nation due to signs that every vote might not be fairly counted in this election. While peaceful protestors took to the highway, police under the orders of Commissioner John Harrington kettled and arrested 646 protestors. I was one of them. Many community members were awakened to helicopter noise and police car sirens.
While protestors entered the highway from Cedar Avenue, a massive police force followed from behind. As protesters tried to exit onto Franklin Avenue, police blocked off the exit making it impossible to do so. We were then flanked from both sides and told that we were under arrest. No “unlawful assembly” warnings were given. Protestors were blocked in for five hours with no food, water or bathrooms. Hundreds of citizens showed up along the perimeter to show support and were met by mace and insults from police officers both on the ground and on horses.
I was allowed to take my mug shot on the highway and leave through the exit coming from Cedar Avenue. I was greeted by elected officials who listened and pledged to rectify this wrong. I got home safe and I look forward to fighting my case alongside hundreds of patriots. Please urge Gov. Walz and other elected officials to DROP ALL CHARGES.
As an 18-year-old who proudly cast my ballot for the first time on Nov. 3, I exercised my duty as a citizen knowing that there is so much more to do. Police brutality isn’t a Trump administration issue or a Mayor Frey administration issue, it’s an American issue that requires consistent mass demonstrations that can only be kept peaceful if both sides (police and protestors) agree to keep the peace. Last night that agreement was broken by an unnecessary and disproportionate response by the police.
Young people will continue to exercise their First Amendment rights. Just because we’re the future of this country doesn’t mean that we can’t alter the present moment.
In love, understanding and solidarity …
Tiger Worku is vice president of the Seward Neighborhood Group.