Anaika Forbes decided to shift her volunteer focus from distributing free lunches to needy New Yorkers to giving water and other essential supplies to anti-police brutality protesters.
“I just want to help them so they don’t have to stop doing what they are doing, knowing there are people out here risking their lives for their rights, my rights and the rights of my kids,” Forbes, 36.
Forbes was one of thousands of New Yorkers who have taken to the streets in recent days to call for systemic changes to policing after a Minneapolis officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, killing him.
Some of the demonstrators shared their stories with THE CITY outside Brooklyn Borough Hall Friday, with several asking to just use their first names for fear of retaliation from employers or the NYPD.
“I have a daughter that I need to be out here representing,” said Manny, a 33-year-old construction worker “This has been going on for a long time and will continue to keep going if I’m not out here 24/7. The time to speak up is now.”
“What we are doing here socially is worth it,” said Elizabeth, 30, a speech-language pathologist. “Hopefully the pandemic keeps going down as this movement gains traction.”
“Of course this movement is about all the black people that have been murdered in cold blood, but it’s also about the systemic issues festering at the foundation of his country,” said Asiya Wadud, 38, a writer who teaches poetry to children,
“Finally, I feel there’s this momentum building and people are coming together in ways I’ve never seen before.”
Before posing for a photograph, Cameron used his nursing skills to help a protester who was feeling unwell.
“This is the second war that I’m fighting. I’m fighting in the hospital and out here on the street,” said the 29-year-old registered nurse.
Ngozi, a paralegal, said she couldn’t enter her apartment building across from the Barclays Center during the first three days of the curfew without showing her ID to an NYPD officer.
“I felt targeted ... I felt mentally and physically trapped,” said Ngozi, 25. “I hadn’t been on my feet because of my asthma but that forced me to take control of the situation to empower myself.”
With work for her nonexistent during the pandemic, Jennifer, a prop stylist, decided to use her vehicle to give out supplies.
“It was either help out with a cause you believe in or sit at home watching Netflix,” said Jennifer, 33. “The choice was very clear for me.”
“I felt restless watching people around the United State mobilizing from the comfort of my apartment,” said Mike, a musician and Brooklyn native. “We’re all at risk of contracting coronavirus but there’s importance to putting your body for a cause like this.”
“The numbers don’t lie, for almost every metric that assesses quality of life, you’ll see black people below white people,” said EZ, left, a 25-year-old health care worker who was protesting with friend Ron, 28. “That’s why we are out here getting involved and having our voices heard.”
Ressie said she felt a connection to something bigger than herself.
“I’m out here for the next generation and my unborn kids,” said the 27-year-old medical assistant.