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Tell Your Brother that he's Gotta Rise Up

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She dies on an empty street around four a.m. A cellphone photo that goes viral shows one red high heel on the asphalt, a bare foot thrown at a careless angle. By the morning, the picture is all over social media.

The first Hamilton knows of it is when Hercules Mulligan retweets it, hashtagged #restinpower. Over the next couple of hours, Twitter explodes with retweets, with hashtags, with righteous anger. There is a movement that demands the removal of the photo of her dead body and suggests a clutch of photos of her smiling and beautiful and, more importantly, still alive.

#blacklivesmatter trends worldwide. So does her name.

The air has the damp, electric feeling of the moments before a storm.
In New York, everything is quiet.

For now.

*

You probably don't know her name. Not yet. But you've seen her picture. You've retweeted, reblogged, shared her picture. Liked it, even. Favourited. Her name was Rosa. Her crime was walking home down the wrong street after she got off the subway. Her resistance was chewing gum while talking to the NYPD. Her name was Rosa. Say it with me.

Rosa.
She was twenty-nine. And she deserved better than this.

A.Ham @ momentoramovement.org

*

@amindatwork - Hey! White feminists! Where are you NOW? #sayhername #blacklivesmatter #intersectional
@amindatowork - I'm sure Emma Watson's great and everything but Malala was a feminist before she met her.
@amindatwork - Her name was Rosa #sayhername
@amindatwork - Dr. Angelou knew it. "Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean"
@amindatwork - #staywoke

*

There are ten things you need to know if you're going to engage in civil disobedience.

Write Legal Aid's number on your forearm in permanent marker; if you land in a precinct, that's something you're going to need. Charge your damn phone. If someone's being arrested, film it until they make you stop filming it. You are within your writes to keep filming it. Bring water. Drink it. If you get tear-gassed, use it to flush your eyes, unless you can lay your hands on milk. Do NOT rub your eyes. Wear comfortable shoes in case you need to run. The line might need closing. You might need to stand your ground.

But never resist arrest. Do not resist.

A bandana soaked in vinegar will help you breathe in tear gas. Nothing stops a rubber bullet.

Last thing?

They knock you down? Get the fuck back up again.

*

@knowswherefranceis: but is #blackrightsmatter the problem not the solution??
@aham: why don't you just get your ass back to Monticello? heard everything's just FINE down there
@knowswherefranceis: got to go where the story is. gotta go where I'm sent
@aham: this story's got nothing to do with you, Jefferson
@knowswherefranceis: and yet people listen when I talk. Clicks don't like, Hamilton. Go back to your "blog"

 

*

NEWS: NEW YORK PROTESTS: HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON YOU
After a number of arrest-related deaths, #blackrightsmatter gains traction and New York is rocked by protests. The question is - is it enough?

Thomas Jefferson in NEWS, 30th September, 2013 @ Mic.com

*

This is where the media lets us down. This is where we can't trust them anymore. Who are they serving? What agenda are they passing off as truth? When a man like Thomas Jefferson uses his position to question our democratic right to make our voices heard on the streets of New York, you've got to ask yourself - who's planting these ideas? Jefferson hasn't spent much of the last decade in America. He's been covering European affairs, so what makes him think he can come back here and write about the state of Black America.

Sit down, Jefferson. And listen to what you're being told.

A.Ham @ momentoramovement.com

*

"That was nice."
"What?"
"Calling me out like that. A+, Alex. Real professional."
"You put yourself in the public eye, Tommy. You're gonna draw bullets."
"Aren't we on the same side here?"
"I don't know. You tell me."

*

@herculesmulligan: midday. time square. #shutitdown #blacklivesmatter

*

They lie down. They line in the middle of Time Square, push the metal tables and chairs to the side and lie down, heads pillowed on the wet concrete. Bodies upon bodies upon bodies, their placards painted on cardboard and held against their chests like shields. No-one shouts. No-one screams. There is no violence. Nobody is hurt. Hamilton lies with his head pillowed on Laurens' hip and he looks up at the racing clouds, a pocket of blue sky as clear as a pure heart.

The media reports it as MASS DISRUPTION and TRAVEL CHAOS. They speculate about the EFFECT ON THE TOURISM INDUSTRY and TICKET SLUMPS AT BROADWAY SHOWS. They do not mention a girl shot for resisting arrest on a lonely street.

TIME SQUARE GRINDS TO A STANDSTILL.
They still do not say her name.

Jefferson does not lie down. Instead, he stands on the fringes of it all, notepad in hand. He makes a rough count of numbers. He copies down slogans. He actually looks like he's starting to take notice of something,like something is coming together in his head. A cop nudges a protester with the toe of his boot. Ten people have phones in their hands. Camera shutters sound. Video is taken. At least one guy live-streams the whole thing.

Jefferson slides his iPhone back into the pocket of his hoodie and walks away.

 

*

@aburr: hey guys - lets not forget that #allivesmatter okay?
@redefinebravery: get the fuck out of here burr
@redefinebravery: this isn't a conversation about ALL LIVES. We aren't talking about #allives right now. We're talking about #blacklives.
@tellthestory: I bet you're into #notallmen too, aren't you, Aaron?
@fightingfrenchmen: jesus burr you're the worst

*

NEWS: WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT: #BLACKLIVESMATTER REDEFINES WHAT IT IS TO BE BLACK IN AMERICA.
It's not something I'd ever really thought about before. But now I'm thinking. Now? I can't stop thinking.

Thomas Jefferson in NEWS, 19th October, 2013 @ Mic.com

 

*
Bryant Park seethes with people. It's a close, hot day, the humidity high. Tempers fray. Hamilton. moves through the middle of it all, his camera running for a live stream on the blog. He talks to people, hears what he has to say. There are a lot of white faces too. He sees Herc, Laurens, Lafayette, all of the suited and booted and ready to march. He sees Burr hanging around on the edge of things. Jefferson with his hair pulled back tight, his hands in the pocket of a non-descript hoodie.

"Here again," he says, stepping up beside him. They're of a similar height, similar build. Similar stature. Jefferson's been louder, flashier. He's made more of a name for himself.

Hamilton's not sure that that matters.

"Here again," says Jefferson, and there's something about his voice that Hamilton's never heard before. Not far from them, a scuffle breaks out.

Jefferson turns his head, watches it happen, watches the NYPD arrive. Suddenly, both of them have got cameras in their hands.

Hamilton doesn't say anything, but he does feel something in his chest unlock. Just a little.
Something kinder than he's been used to before.

"Hey, man," says Jefferson, stepping in close, getting the cop's attention so he knows he's being filmed as he forces the girl to the floor with her arm twisted around her back. The cop spits something up at him but Jefferson just holds his camera up, keeps filming until he physically can't anymore.

"Am I free to go?" asks Jefferson.
"No," says the Officer, his voice closed like a door.
"Am I being detained?"

After that, Jefferson shuts the fuck up. He does not give consent to a search.
Hamilton live streams the arrests.

Jefferson sits in a cell for three days. His camera got smashed, trodden under a booted foot, but isn't that the beautiful thing about the cloud? Everything lasts forever.

The article he goes on to write is the biggest on Mic.com that year.
Everybody reads it. People talk.

You live. You die. Stories get told anyway and, once they're out there, they last forever.

It's quiet uptown but, downtown, buildings burn. Like so many before it, the movement does not lose momentum. #blacklivesmatter continues to trend. Pictures get retweeted. For the first time in a long time, people start to keep track of the deaths and they start to question them, too.

Hamilton thinks about it a lot - how Manhattan is an island built on bones. Sometimes he thinks he sees them - the rank upon rank of the many, many dead.

How they rest in peace, and power.