Many organizers at the forefront of protests are women, despite men taking center stage
By Caitlin Goldblatt, City Paper Recent Columns
Updated April 27, 2015
The struggle to control the narrative of Saturday’s protests is part of a much longer struggle for control over the narratives of marginalized individuals and communities in the United States. After hours of more than a thousand marching from Gilmor Homes to the Western District police station, to rally at City Hall, with no incident, a seemingly spontaneous march to Camden Yards during a baseball game triggered a series of events whose timeline journalists are still piecing together from video footage.
Many organizers at the forefront of the protests are women, and many members of the Gilmor Homes community with key involvement in the protests are very young people. On Saturday, women marshaled the march along, maintaining energy, leading chants from megaphones, and even ensuring that a female member of Freddie Gray’s family, who joined the march in her wheelchair, was able to stay on the front lines.
However, the visibility, or lack thereof, of black women in the protest narrative has also been problematic; early in the week, religious leaders explicitly called for men to march in front of women, for the purpose of protection, which the women in the crowd largely ignored in favor of a more egalitarian marching formation. Some male organizers made similar suggestions at Friday night’s small demonstration, stating that men should walk in front and on the sides of Saturday’s march to prevent women and children from being grabbed by law enforcement officials or hit by cars whose drivers became agitated during demonstrations that disrupt traffic.