It’s a Saturday afternoon. It’s hot and I’m inside, pissed off at everything that my Facebook feed is telling me. Headline after headline, more unarmed black people are dying due to injustice and police violence in America. How is it that a country I grew up in – a country built on immigrants and a place I used to call home – could let me down so much?
At 16:00 exactly, I impulsively created “Peaceful Protest for #BlackLivesMatter in Berlin”, Sunday July 11th on Hermannplatz, inviting literally everyone in my friend list whether they were in Berlin or not – I wanted everyone to be aware of this. It’s time for Berlin to stand up. After speaking to friends and family I quickly became insecure over whether or not it was correct what I was doing, and if people were going to show up or if I would end up standing there with a team of 10. That thought quickly left my mind as I remembered what I was really doing this for: for the lives lost and to stand up against the racial injustice happening around the world. Only hours later the number of attendees began to grow, and questions were being asked.
“Has this protest been registered by the police?”
“Where will be marching to?”
All questions that I hadn’t even thought of myself, so with the help of strangers and fellow activists we got the protest registered by the police and our route was made. As discussions began to brew on the event page, it dawned on me that nothing about the events happening around the world was peaceful and that this detail therefore needed to be changed. I quickly altered the name of the protest to “BlackLivesMatter Protest Berlin (No Justice = No Peace)”. It felt right. Over the course of the day I found my eyes glued to the page, refreshing to check the number of attendees. I messaged close friends, asking them to share and share, nagging people all over the world to make them aware. By Saturday night at 8pm we were at a strong 400 attending and over 1K invited, and the word was still continuing to spread.
Sunday July 11th: it’s a high of 28 degrees. I spend the day in front of my laptop checking on the event updates, the numbers continuing to rise. I melted when I saw we had over 50 shares, 1,000 attending, over 8K invited in less that 24 hours. Activist or not, when arriving upon Hermannplatz to a sea of people holding signs and ready to march, it was surreal but no surprise: Berliners have it in them; it’s just a matter of actually gathering together and putting aside our lake days to stand up for what we truly believe in.
Photos: Kocy Mergenc