Originally this piece was going to be about the Lower East Side, but going into this month’s walk it would be hard not to talk about George Floyd dying at the hands of a police officer. His death was felt from Minnesota all across the world, especially in New York City, where events such as these are all too common. The energy of the city was charged and ready to burst at the end of May leading into June, so much so, the city put a curfew into effect on June 2nd. Below 96th street all the way to downtown Brooklyn was locked down from 8pm to 5am. But who were we kidding, police were locking down all the neighborhoods in the Bronx & Queens and even uptown manhattan too.
With Covid-19 still in full swing, I take pleasure in my nightly blunt walks, away from the masses that are now so confidently coming out in the summer heat. So when the city tells me to stay inside, I’m gonna have to pass, especially when I’m outside protesting for the voices of people of color (such as myself) to be heard. But before I joined in on protesting, the first night of curfew I decided to bike downtown on a Citibike before the clock struck 8pm. I checked in my bike and walked up the quiet streets of 8th Avenue as I lit up my blunt. It was eerie, the city was just getting warmer, and people were finally outside again, maybe not in full force but still we were making progress. But to see Time Square dead on a Tuesday still was heartbreaking. I walked further south on 8th Avenue, as I passed multiple 7-Elevens broken into and emptied. Police were the only thing driving around, either in motorcades or solo combing the area. With nothing to do in the siren accented empty void that was midtown, I pushed my way down to Soho.
When I got there it was mayhem, groups of people going to protests with banners in hands, crossing paths with the police. While at the same time looters were breaking into all the high end fashion stores. The looters wouldn’t even get a block away before they were being pressed by other looters trying to rob them. As I looked for some space away from the chaos, I walked past Billionaire Boys Club on Mercer Street and I see they’ve barricaded off the street with huge SUVs with an army of security guards inside them to prevent looting. But this didn’t seem to deter any of the people pushing their way through the streets.
By now my blunt was done and I had my fill of risky adventures, so I tried to hop on a Citibike to go home but they were shut off because of the curfew, I was assed out. I jiggle a couple of bikes to find a loose one and I peddle my way home to get ready for the next couple days of protesting.
The following two weeks were full of gatherings like vigils and protests with the community coming out from all neighborhoods. One of the first protests I went to was a group of about 250-300 people walking from 125th street in Harlem all the way to Washington Square park, as we walked downtown the crowd just kept growing as people started tagging along. It felt so good to see people fighting for their community. It was encouraging to see the range of people that came out in support of Black lives. From bikers and skaters halting traffic to ride down to Gracie Mansion, to educators and activists marching on Columbus Circle to confront the highly guarded Trump Towers. It was the best display of hope for a better future, one where people can see each other as just that, People with lives that matter. And until Black Lives Matter, a lot of people will be signing petitions, voting and attending protests to see that what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others never happens again. Till then I’ll be hitting the streets shouting Black Lives Matter and bringing you guys along with me for my next blunt walk.
Until next month, stay safe & stay Black Happy Munkey Fam!