Culture of a Crowd: Protesters in Kansas City on May 31, 2020

What looks uncontrolled and scary: look closer.  I went to protest in Kansas City, and in Lawrence, Kansas.  In Kansas City, where there is a horrifying history of violence, I was struck by how safe and peaceful the protest felt.  I was literally wearing a sign that said to people: I am against racism.  And so many other white people were, too!

Really I am still deeply in shock about that.

As someone who’s participated in plenty of protests, and thought about how to bring people out, seeing the largest protest in Kansas City’s recent history, I was overwhelmed.

Many of our usual outlets (movies, sports, school, restaurants, bars) are not available for processing, blowing off steam, or supporting each other.

I know I would have been out eating and drinking with friends if I could have been.  Living through the past couple of months, I would have given myself full permission to go full tilt at a martini and some wine and hey, maybe whiskey later?

Why now, white people?

For me, I felt a little like I was back in New York City: a racially diverse crowd, an unstructured crowd, people just doing it for themselves.

And people taking care of each other in a huge way: there were multiple piles of snacks.  Free.  There were so many water bottles being offered!  And people calling out, if you think you’re hydrated, you’re probably not, have one!

And so many people picking up trash.  I brought a couple of trash bags myself, but they were not needed.

The way that I saw several protesters calm each other down to preserve the peace.

I ended up walking around Facebook live-ing what I saw.  I’ve never done that before.  I had so much restless energy, adrenaline from the cause, from suddenly being with so many other humans, and covid fear, I wanted to just walk and walk.  And bear witness, I guess.


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