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Ongoing protests demanding police reform and racial justice continue to spread around the world after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month. Isaac Bryan, a civil rights activist and director of public policy at UCLA's Bunche Center, gives his first hand account of what it means for him to be part of this pivotal moment in history. It’s part of KCET's series “I Was There.”
Finally tonight, a first-hand account from Isaac Bryan, a civil rights activist and director of public policy at UCLA's Bunche Center, on what it means for him to be part of this pivotal moment in history. It's part of KCET series, "I Was There."
My name is Isaac Bryan. I'm the director of public policy at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA. I am also the director of the Black Policy Project at UCLA.
2020 may become one of the momentous years of an entire generation. The protest right outside of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's house was not publicized.
We know that law enforcement has been brutal to many organizers in the city. I have been brutalized by law enforcement during these times of protests. And so the idea of marching on the mayor's house and peaceful protest, we were, quite frankly, scared of what could be lethal repercussions.
It was one of the most beautiful and powerful things I've ever been a part of. It was well organized. We spent time organizing it. Thousands of people were in the streets. We chanted. We sang. We did the electric slide. I want to give a special shout out to Garcetti for coming out.
We were met by law enforcement. Clearly, a message of standing off and standing back is starting to resonate with the LAPD. This moment right now is a combination of personal and professional experiences in my life coming together.
My origin begins in Dallas, Texas, in early 90s. On the product of a violent attack on a teenage mother who lived in poverty that ultimately forced me to come to early contact with child welfare system. And when I was in middle school, I was suspended seven or eight times. I was pushed out of school despite being in the gifted and talented program. I didn't graduate middle school. In fact, I struggled so hard that I almost didn't make it to college. I accepted the offer at UCLA and I got my master's in public policy. I graduated top of my class out here and I worked for Mayor Eric Garcetti in the Office of Reentry for a couple of years.
I've been out in the streets. I've been in the halls of power negotiating change. And I've been on the frontlines of organizing. As someone who has moved between different spaces, I can tell you right now is the space for organizing. It is the space for protesting. It is space for exclaiming just how upset we are. We saw a man murdered on camera for the umpteenth time.
And it's not training that's going to fix that. We need our leaders to be inspiring, to be bold and to push for actions that might seem uncomfortable but are very, very necessary.
And that is the end of my rant.
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