Over the weekend, activists allied with Black Lives Matter Sacramento showed up at a wedding event for Officer Terrence Mercadal, one of the two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark as he stood in the backyard of his grandparents home, holding a cellphone.
The Sacramento Police Department has not released the identity of either officer involved in the shooting, citing concerns for the officers’ safety as their reasoning, but their identities were revealed in March by a representative from the office of Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris.
As Mercadal—who is black—sat at a table eating a meal with friends, an activist burst in and asked him if he planned his wedding before or after he shot Stephon Clark.
They brought it to him where he lives and made him think about his actions. In the unedited version of the video—which can be seen in its entirety on the Black Lives Matter Sacramento Facebook page—Mercadal and his dinner companions are completely caught off guard and presumably stunned into silence. Mercandal then turns his face away from the camera, and as his guests stare on, he asks one of those in attendance to get rid of the activists.
As the gentleman gets up to ask the activists to leave—which they do—the other guests continue to stare and say nothing.
Shock and awe are exactly how protests are supposed to work, yet there are many questioning whether or not these activists “took it too far.”
Here is a newsflash for those of you who seem to be confused about this: protest is not supposed to make you feel comfortable. It is not supposed to be convenient. It is not supposed to occur on a schedule that is pre-approved by those being protested against.
Protest should make you feel uncomfortable so that you are forced to think about the thing being protested against.
How uncomfortable do you think Stephon Clark’s children, fiancee and family are—nearly five months after his death no answers as to whether or not Mercadal and his partner Jared Robinet will be charged?
When the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in December 1955, they didn’t wait until it was convenient for the city, the bus drivers and bus company. They staged a 13-month protest that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling segregation on public buses unconstitutional.
Similarly, when 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., decided to go on strike to protest their working conditions, they didn’t wait to make sure someone else was going to pick up the garbage in their stead; they did what they had to do to make a statement.
The same can be said for the activists who stand regularly outside the office of Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert—activists who have clearly made her so uncomfortable that she had a fence erected around her office to prevent them from getting close to the door of her building.
Activism and protest is not silent. No one has fostered or effected changed by quietly begging their oppressor to work with them.
Activism and protest are meant to get your attention. They are meant to get you to listen. They are meant to make people take notice.
They are not meant to make you feel comfortable.
The next time you find yourself asking whether or not activists are “taking it too far,” ask yourself if the thing they are protesting was a step too far.
Is the shooting of unarmed black people too much?
Is the disenfranchisement of marginalized communities too much?
Are the daily microaggressions faced by black people at the hands of white people too much?
Is living under a presidential administration that seems to enable white nationalism and white supremacy too much?
If your answers to any of those questions was “yes,” then the protests that follow will never be too much.