By Gam Cheinsaw
My entire outlook to protest was forever changed when Fawn Walker Montgomrey posted about Ms. Dannielle Brown on day three of her hunger strike.
Day three, of no food. Chef mind, blown. That sounded like utter torture to me. Food is essential. I had to see her; I needed to help her get justice and get her back to food.
I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see when I got to Freedom Corner. One white rocking chair. One canopy. One yoga mat for sleeping. Which she hadn’t used yet because falling asleep in her chair made her feel safer.
The triggers of once being homeless were sharp. I had to really fight the internalizations and all I saw after that was every idea to help her get back home. Lorenzo Rulli felt the same and leapt into action and a tent city was built for her and around her to protect her. Other local allies came out to sing to her, play board games, spend time with her. Local activists rallying and scrambling to help her fight against COVID became imperative.
All of Pittsburgh was instantly triggered by the presence of this different type of mother’s love that still felt familiar somehow. Her child, almost the same age as mine, an athlete, just like mine, a college student, just like mine.
Marquis Jaylen Brown deserves a thorough investigation into what happened to him, so that his mother can sleep better at night, and eat breakfast in the morning. If she was a white mother, I highly doubt she would have been left outside unprotected and so unnoticed for 18 days.
Ms. Brown terrifies me. She’s a Black Saint who had to fast for 18 days to get the attention of a Catholic institution that holds the answers to her son’s death that she simply wants full access to. All she wants is a file, to take home and read.
Ms. Brown scares me. Her strength to what’s tough is otherworldly. On day nine, she led a march back to the spot where her son died. Unrelenting bravery continued when she asked an artist friend to draw a 3-D sketch of the room her son was in before he died so the community could see why she has so many questions. So it’s hard to understand why an institution that practices police-like tactics in their security guards, wouldn’t arm their “peace officers” with body cams.Ms. Brown is so calm and every day I grow more and more nervous that she might not get what she needs despite Duquesne recently stating they would meet her demands. They say their security and staff are trained in de-escalating in mental health situations yet somehow with so many people in the room her son still died? I can’t imagine a world where I had to contain rage the way she does.Right now, Dannielle Brown is the most unprotected Black woman in the country during a civil unrest and it’s the most tragic thing to not be able to fix immediately. Three very easy demands and not eating now for 20 days seems to be the most drastic and logical decision and solution.
The people of Pittsburgh need to rally behind her. Everyday I’m asked what Ms.Brown needs, and everyday, I’ll say the same thing; head up to Freedom Corner and ask her. Meet her. Listen to her so matter of factly talk about her child’s death over and over again. She does this willingly and without a tremble in her voice. She’s not suicidal; she’s a fighter. She found a new way to move in silence and pushed her plate back to have her demands met.
Black mothers are at the forefront of this revolution and they are the ones that are being ignored the most. I’m dedicated to this modern deity that findsthe time in her cause to have to take care of those around her. I’m not a religious person in the slightest bit. I went to Catholic school; the way love is shown within that institution confuses me too much. The hypocrisies I’m seeing now with Duquesne waiting 18 days to acknowledge Ms. Brown only makes me mistrust religion more. However, I see how the tales of sainthood come about every time I spend time up at Freedom Corner with Ms. Dannielle Brown. She’s inspiring and she teaches us the quickest actions to building a better community.
Ms. Brown sits in the middle of the city of Pittsburgh, one neighborhood away from everyone. I hope everyone from the President of Duquesne University, to the mayor of this city of Pittsburgh has gone up to see her and offer her a helping hand.
Day 20, she shouldn’t have to keep pushing her plate back.
Gam Cheinsaw: Chef alien warrior deity that slays.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 5. July/August, 2020. All rights reserved.