#SayHerName Protests For Black Women Victims Of Police Violence Spread From The Bay Area To Atlanta
Over the past several months, major U.S. cities have been put to the test when it comes to handling large-scale protest. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf opted to ban nighttime street protests, for example, forcing marchers to stick to the sidewalks. But this new policy was promptly challenged and defied, as the #SayHerName protests for black women victims of police violence went down last week. And they're not over, either — more protests are apparently happening in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday.
The protest itself was essentially addressing the same slate of issues that the Black Lives Matter movement writ large has been about — police brutality, and the uniquely dire ways that it impacts black people and communities. While data-keeping on police-involved fatal incidents isn't perfect, numerous analyses (from Vox, Mother Jones, and ProPublica, among others) have found that black people are at an increased risk of being killed in encounters with officers than white people are.
But the #SayHerName protests are focusing in on a specific part of this issue: violence received by black women. It's an important reminder, especially considering how many recent protests have centered around black men and children, and how many women's names — names like Rekia Boyd, Yvette Smith, and Shelly Frey — may have slipped through the cracks.
Protests are expected to be ongoing, and it's clear that this movement isn't over in the Bay Area — the city of Oakland's prohibition on nighttime street marching has proven controversial with local activists, and they clearly weren't deterred on Saturday, intending to march in defiance of police orders. According to the Los Angeles Times, it culminated with the OPD using teargas, as some protesters attempted to cross their lines.
Oakland wasn't the only part of the Bay Area that saw the #SayHerName protests take hold, either. Some scenes of civil disobedience also unfolded dramatically in San Francisco over the weekend, with women taking to the streets in a very exposed way — activists going topless while blocking traffic in the financial district. The public display sent a pretty clear message: that they were standing up for black women, and refusing to be ignored.
On Monday morning, activists seemed to be keeping the momentum going in Atlanta, enlisting the support of former Georgia state representative Mable Thomas.
If you're curious to know more about this movement, in its own words, you can get more familiar through social media — there's activity both on the #SayHerName and #BlackWomenMatter hashtags. Suffice to say this is a useful reminder to all of us to never overlook the role black women are playing, whether in social justice or in society more broadly.