Saturday, the nation fills the streets. The nation’s capital, the home of the June 1st attack, was one of the epicenters of many protests around the nation. Mainstream media does not highlight the DC protest. The coverage would rather go to areas where people can open carry guns to paint the picture of the civil war brewing in this country. With DC’s complex gun laws, all protesters take to the streets unarmed.

Photography by Andrew Derek

This Saturday was unique; the Billy Graham prayer march added another level of conflict that was already present. Many coming into town to “pray” for this nation as it burns. However, many set on trying to show their support for Trump and his announcement for the Supreme Court. The local residents saw this lining up of events from a mile away. Pro-life advocates, coupling with an announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee to the Supreme Court, created the drama that this president loves. Now he needed the antagonist—those wanting freedom, justice, and equity.

Photography by Andrew Derek

The protest started early, as the Gen Z march began at noon, but many were already there ready to show that faith cannot be the excuse to decide what a woman’s body should do. The unarmed protesters took the streets, using their energy to raise their voices and fist as loud and as high as they could. The weekly march from Malcolm X park took to the most gentrified areas of DC. Making sure that people trying to be normal and brunch could not have peace like Breonna Taylor. Instead of gunshots, the protesters gave them songs, chants, and plenty of middle fingers.

The days of protest are always filled with love, but the police patience fades as the sun wanes. Anyone suffering from drapetomania is liable to be arrested. In 1851, Dr. Samuel Cartwright coined the word drapetomania as the mental illness that caused the enslaved to flee and run for freedom. This type of scientific racism was prevalent at that time, though this theory was debunked. Make no mistake; there is still racism in the science community. I use this word to emphasize the desire to oppress those who are the modern drapetes of the American Society.

The people in the streets march, begin dancing, yelling for their freedom, and justice. Fighting for the desire to live in a country they dream of. Yet, some will paint them as mentally ill. Or even worse, the true antagonist of this country. People will call you radical when your mind desires freedom from the cages that this nation built. The DC protesters understand that until we are all free, no one is. People from out of town could not wait to encounter this group firsthand. They watched the viral videos, the small clips of the protest, and were ready to vilify everyone they came across. If you do not support and uplift this president in today’s America, you are the enemy. These people need prayer, they say.

Photography by Andrew Derek

Instead what they found were beautiful people, beautiful music, passion, and pain that brought many to tears as they spoke.

This group of protesters experiences the full force of the American government suppression power. When they take to the streets, every protester knows they face felony charges for the slightest offense. The looseness of the definition “riot” leads the charge “to incite a riot” easy to apply. You can be a spoken word artist, a dancer, a journalist, and you will be charged the same as if you actually spray-painted a wall or busted a window. This group stands in solidarity on whatever form you choose, knowing the risk is all the same.

By nightfall, three protesters were already arrested. Being arrested on a Saturday means you will not be released until Monday. The Occupy DC protest in front of the White House stayed, took to the street anyway.

Photography by Andrew Derek

As the rain came, the patience of the police faded and faded. Metropolitan police pushed me off the barricade for sitting to get a good camera angle, and the mood of the night changed. Warnings were given, and it was only a matter of time.

Photography by Andrew Derek

Staying and protesting in front of the White House is no longer a fear to anyone. It is the walk home. After the events of last week, where protesters were followed home, and arrested-no one was rushing to go to jail. So everyone stayed, but little by little, the crowd faded. In the end, right when the final group of eight decided to go home, the police swooped in, his hat crossed the police line. They felt justified by using whatever force necessary. Witnessing it, you felt like they were waiting for this moment.

The night was not over; after seeing this, the group had to walk home. It is not a mental illness this group suffers from-it is nightly violence and constant forceful reminders to stay in your place. Those who take to the streets are the modern-day runaways. Refusing to sit inside while this nation burns, while fascism gets uplifted. This group says no, we will not stay enslaved to the mindsight that what we see is ok. The modern-day form of drapetomania can only be described as realizing that freedom is not a run from slavery as it was in the past.

Photography by Andrew Derek

Once you have seen this country’s injustices, you see those choosing to stay in their homes as mentally ill. Since Saturday, we have learned more about the evils of this current administration. Still, many will continue to start this week, trying to find normalcy. What American’s must understand is that normal will never be again. We must take the long road to a new and better home. To take to the streets and demand that this country take the language it was founded seriously and apply to all equitably.

As long as we continue to label those in the streets as the antagonist, the villains of this democracy-we are letting the injustice win. Moving forward, every DC protester has to take extra precaution on the way home, this administration wants to put the resistance down. It is time to stand with those in the streets, even if that means you will label a drapetomaniac. History will say, you stood with those fighting for freedom and justice. For if you choose not to take the long road ahead, and stay on the side, years from now, people will look back at and wonder what illness did you suffer from to be so docile?

May we all have the disease called freedom. I hope we never get cured. I dream we all have it one day.

Photography by Andrew Derek