My neighborhood tonight

The signs appeared about a month ago on a corner near where I live. The work of local artists, each page had the face of someone killed by police, and their name. It was a subtle monument, for a national pain that’s vicious and ongoing. It was a visible monument, to the urgency that we remember these are not just numbers or anonymous names, these are people dying. And it was a quiet monument, to testify that we are the many who think this is not okay and that we need to do better.

My partner and I have been taking covid-walks around the neighborhood for the past weeks, and every time we passed it was a reminder of the coexistence of those things, the problem that is poisoning this nation, the real people suffering most from it, and the health of our shared goodness that seeks to cure the infection.

Monday night somebody vandalized it. No one knows if it was just a random act or a deliberate expression of hatred. It doesn’t matter. That was one small broken glass shard of human folly.

Tonight, an hour ago, members of this community gathered together to dedicate and celebrate this monument anew. It took the action of a few to create this beautiful piece of collective spirit. It took the action of one to wreck it. It was an action of the many to reaffirm which side of the fight we’re on.

(I didn’t want to take pictures while people were talking, but I like this one because it reminds me of the importance and beauty of raising informed kids. Plus that girl was adorable beyond all reason. Laughter of contagious joy. That’s important any time, but especially right now.)

As with the protest marches, it buoyed and fed my heart to be in the presence of other people who stand in opposition to the violence we see in our headlines. It fed my soul to see the proof that I live in a community that cares. And it nourished my optimism to see one of our local council members there taking a knee with the rest of us.

Her presence was a reminder that the mechanisms of power are made up of people. Many good. A few rotten. Most who need to see the spirit and will of the people they represent. And it reminded me that we can go to our local council meetings and stand up to be counted on the side of the world we want to live in.

Oakland City Council meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month. When is yours?