“The sun goes down, the batons come up.”
I went to Ferguson, Missouri in a van full of strangers. All of us went as a result of mobilization around Ferguson October but, beyond that, we were all brought by a break. Something—not the same thing for everybody, but something nonetheless—snapped inside all of us when Ferguson’s uprising first began.
For me, it was a broken string located deep inside of my chest, somewhere to the left and behind my heart, so every one of its beats had an awkward, hollow twang. In the car ride down, I stared out the window and reflected on how strange it was to be surrounded by people I don’t know. I’m not a people person, but I would find myself among strangers on the parking lot of the Ferguson Police Department, outside a Quick Trip, inside of two jail cells.
I made the comment about batons that opens this essay while sitting inside of a Hardee’s as police officers stood at the ordering counter. Or maybe I said it while standing on a street whose name I can no longer recall, listening to the low drone of helicopters flying low overhead, metal bellies all that I could see. Maybe I said it while watching the sun set on itself, an awkward observer bowing out of the moment. Maybe I timed each word to the beat of the police’s batons on the sidewalk as their line approached and I gripped the arms of the people around me tighter.