The First Amendment gives Americans the right to assemble peacefully and air their views. And the FBI “respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” as stated in its press release published on the 1st of June.
But in the wake of Mr. George Floyd’s death, on many occasions, peaceful protesters have been met by disproportionately brute force. And when the FBI asked to share digital evidence of violent individuals, people responded with countless examples showing police officers using hostile force.
It’s not the first time that the FBI has put out a nationwide call for pictures and videos that could help to identify people “actively instigating violence.” The strategy has been used during melees that followed Lakers victories in downtown Los Angeles and others cities like Baltimore.
Bored Panda spoke to the front-line protester Kiki who shared the first-person account of what happened during the protests from Friday to Sunday. “I packed up a grandma cart with Gatorade, water, snacks, and hand sanitizer and took it out to the White House/Lafayette square to hand out to protesters.”
Kiki also said that “these protests have been VERY peaceful during the day. What I have witnessed was very diverse groups of protesters (all ages, races, backgrounds) who were passionate, loud, and angry, but peaceful.”
On Monday, she was handing out supplies to a bunch of peaceful protesters. “They were all very appreciative of the support they were getting from the community and I was honestly moved by how many people stopped and said a sincere 'thank you' to me when really I wanted to thank them for continuing to exercise their right to protest.”
About 3 o'clock on Monday, the group of peaceful protesters that were at the police line at the White House/ Lafayette Square made their way on foot to the capitol. “When I got there, I saw only peaceful protesting there too.”
“Between 6:20 or so, skirmishes started to happen where people would start fleeing away from the police line.” Kiki got swept up in a group of running people.
She recounted that “I was standing to avoid 30 feet or so from the police line when all of a sudden, flash grenades started to go off.” It was the first time she had seen or heard “a flash grenade that close to me.” She said: “It’s loud and frightening and totally shocks your heartbeat.”
It was panic and chaos all around. “As I retreated back in the direction of my car, 3 or 4 additional flash-bangs went off while peaceful protesters fled.” When she turned around to see what was happening, the tear gas and rubber bullets started.
As the woman was running back to her car, “police were shouting at all of us over an intercom that we had 10 minutes to get home or we would be immediately arrested.” She made it home by 7:30.“
I didn’t sleep at all because I was so worried all evening and speaking with the protesters on Swann Street trapped inside the house.” At 5 AM, the woman left her house with Gatorade, water, and snacks and headed over to the home on Swann Street to help the sheltered people. Read more about the Swann Street incident right here.
"From there, I witnessed all of the protesters hugging each other and saying goodbye and exchanging info. I have no doubt that many of them will be connected for life because of the harrowing night they experienced together,” the protester said emotionally.