The tension rises.

They were gathered in Washington Square Park on that fateful day after a long march down Broadway. Some were holding signs with witty sayings, others improvised drums made from buckets and sticks.

And many wore masks in the form of bandannas, and all-black clothing, despite the bright sun and mild weather. I wore a bandanna as well, as I had chased these guys around midtown Manhattan all afteroon, filming their exploits and adventures, using my camera's zoom lens to search for police barriers up ahead.

At one point, the rebels linked arms, and someone told me that they were going to burn an american flag. An undercover cop broke through the line and tried to rescue the red, white, and blue cloth, but it was in vain. They lit it, then they raised it. Success.

After that, the cops pulled out their pepper spray. And their billy clubs. And the flex-cuffs. And I saw people get headbutted and sprayed and pushed, and for no good reason. Those kids had a right to be there. Flag-burning is protected under the First Amendment, god dammit.

And as I struggle to focus and look for the closest cop so I can get yet another badge number, I hear the echoes from the crowd.

41 Shots!
41 Shots!
41 Shots!
41 Shots!

And I was confused for a moment. And someone told me what it meant. And I was silent. And the thought crossed my mind that antagonizing the police with a chant that indicates how many bullets it took to end a life wasn't the best of ideas. Then again, shouts of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" weren't working either.

Even after that day, I can still think back and hear the crowd screaming...

41 Shots!
41 Shots!
41 Shots!


I was there, M22 NYC. /msg me if you were too. I'm sure we'll have similar stories to share.

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