#CarryTheNames 24 Hour Vigil In Grand Central Station
Above: #CarryTheNames 24 hour vigil, held January 5th and 6th at Grand Central Station in New York City. Source: Twitter @realmelodic
Photos, Tweets and Video Reports Below
Participants called it a “beautiful action” — a 24 hour vigil in Grand Central Station in New York City where people carried the names of those who have been killed in police violence.
“We #CarryTheNames–reading the names and stories of some of the many killed over the years because of racism. Vinie Burrows came and read a Langston Hughes poem. Dragonfly sat in the middle of the signs with all the names and sang. We marched around the information booth singing ‘I can hear my brother crying, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
This series of photos by Ellen Davidson, more photos available here.
The Village Voice reports on Rev. Billy Talen being arrested after 18 hours of the protest:
According to a police spokeswoman, Talen was told to remove signs placed on the floor that could be a hazard to commuters walking by. After an officer tried to take one of the signs, police said, Talen pushed the officer. He was arrested with charges of obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct shortly after 12:30 p.m. Talen was the only person at the protest who was arrested.
Talen didn’t answer calls to his cellphone, but his partner, Savitri D, told the Voice she spoke with a “pretty ticked off” Talen over the phone after the arrest.
“He said he wasn’t resisting,” she said. “They just clearly wanted him not to be there.”
The vigil had gone on peacefully for eighteen hours before the arrest, and Savitri said she’s glad the arrest didn’t stop the protest, which continued until 5 p.m. “This is a First Amendment violation,” she says. “And it’s terrible, because it keeps us from talking about the lives being taken by police.”
Talen is expected to spend the night in “The Tombs” — the Manhattan Detention Complex in Tribeca.
Below are tweets and video from the action.
— #OpICantBreathe (@OpICantBreathe) January 5, 2015
— Hashem Said (@hash_said) January 5, 2015
— Lnonblonde (@Lnonblonde) January 6, 2015
— WEWILLNOTBESILENT (@RECLAIMLANGUAGE) January 6, 2015
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) January 6, 2015
— WEWILLNOTBESILENT (@GREEDKILLS) January 6, 2015
— Pat OBrien (@patob7) January 6, 2015
By Ted Alexandro
“White power.” He murmured it so low that I barely heard it the first time.
“White power,” he said again, slightly louder, assuring me that I had heard him correctly. I was participating in a twenty-four hour vigil at Grand Central Station to #CarrytheNames of the over 150 deceased unarmed victims of police violence over decades. People carried signs with the names of the deceased, most of whom were black and brown males.
A middle aged white man, probably in his early fifties, walked slowly alongside our circle.
“White power,” he murmured a third time. I pulled out my phone/camera, pointed it at him and shouted “Please repeat what you just said and say your name!” He froze momentarily, wide eyed, and then slinked back, disappearing into the oceans of people flowing through the space.
Later, a young black woman was in the center of the circle reciting the names of the victims and the circumstances of the deaths. The crowd repeated her words, doing the human microphone. An older white man, probably in his early sixties, strode deliberately into the middle of the circle and defiantly stood right next to her. He pulled out his cellphone and made a show of talking on his phone to disrupt her reading of the names. Eventually, cops came over and asked the man to leave, ushering him away from the circle.
Several times during the two hours I was at the event tonight, commuters angrily stormed through the circle to disrupt the vigil, rather than going around. Sometimes they shouted “Get a job!” or “Don’t resist arrest!” as they plowed through. This happened maybe eight times. Not once was it a female. Not once was it a person of color. Every single time, it was a white male.
In the final few minutes of the action, a thirty-something white male in a suit and tie, disgusted look on his face, strode with determination right through the middle of the circle. When he got to the other side of the circle a young, slight girl, no more than twenty years old, was directly in his path. She held her sign aloft, didn’t move and he plowed right into her. She began backing up and he put his hands under her arm pits, practically lifting her up and pushing her aside like a rag doll. People shouted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and the cops came over and he dashed away before anyone could ask him any questions.
I was really disturbed by what I witnessed tonight. These white males, though just a small sampling of passersby, represented something very upsetting and significant. They represent that segment of the population who are so intolerant that they are incapable of even hearing another person’s reality expressed, a stark reality of incessant police harassment and abuse that all too often results in death.
Nevermind having to actually live that reality day to day; these belligerent individuals showed that they cannot tolerate encountering that reality for even the briefest of periods as they are walking from one place to another. They could have entered into a conversation. They could have ignored it. They could have dismissed it and kept walking. Instead, they became viscerally angry and combative, to the point of becoming verbally and physically threatening towards a peaceful demonstration. Mind you, there were family members of the deceased in attendance. This was a vigil for their deceased family members.
That is what racism looks like. That is what male privilege looks like. That is what white supremacy looks like.
It shocked me. It made me sad. It made me angry. It made me appreciative of the many people throughout history who have spoken out for justice at great personal risk, some even facing death. It made me realize we still have a very long way to go. And we will.