Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | February 3, 2011

Feelings of Protesters

To hear the stories of protesters in Egypt is to witness the power of people’s voices. This morning, after a dawn filled with automatic weapons and an army tank dispensing smoke to disperse the clashes between anti-Mubarak and pro-Mubarak protesters, Tahrir Square is filling up again, and this time with the likes of a 70-year-old surgeon carrying a bouquet of flowers and a mother carrying her child. They both told the BBC they were there to partake in a peaceful revolution. But is it safe to bring your child? Yes, the mother said, she must be part of this.

Taking to the streets is powerful, and so is social media to gather supporters. In 2008, what was a group of young people expressing their rage at the FARC on Facebook grew into a massive world-wide event within a month, culminating in anti-FARC marches in 133 cities on February 4, 2008.

At mid-day on February 4, 2008, I was at the park across from the United Nations. Hundreds of Colombian-Americans yelled, “No mas FARC! No more FARC!” Buses had been chartered from Queen’s and New Jersey. A surge of hope scintillated up my spine. My homemade banner, taped to a broomstick, had a dove. “No more kidnappings!” The FARC had united Colombian-Americans of all types, the Gucci handbag felt solidarity with the empanada seller. “No more deaths!” “No more kidnappings …”

Two young men wearing black masks stood up on a bench and held their banner—“No more Uribe,” it read. And so Gucci handbag reached to pull the banner down. Empanada seller pushed one of the masks to the floor. I blinked and ten, twelve, maybe twenty people were fisting the masks. A man asked, “why do you need to wear masks and hide who you are?” My friend’s arm yanked me back. We crossed the street and watched as NYPD pulled protesters apart.

The very feelings that evoke us to come out and express our outrage at violence are the same feelings that bubble in us and turn us violent. In a blink.

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