Remembering Protests of Black Lives Matter in 2020

Jaycee Grider looks back on the night Reno was engulfed in protest on May 30, 2020, while sharing some of her photos from several demonstrations from throughout the spring and summer.

Reno, May 30, 2020

What’s it like to experience history in the making?

I had just flung myself onto my bed, ready to rest for the evening when an alert sounded from my phone. The message read that a city-wide curfew has been mandated, effective immediately at 7:29 and that all persons should avoid downtown.

I swiftly jumped up — scrambling to find my keys, shoes and cameras, and drove straight to Reno’s downtown city plaza. The scene I found was already in unrest. Protestors had taken over the Virginia St. Bridge and a team of police in riot gear held a line with barriers to defend themselves and City Hall.

A woman’s voice echoed out through the cacophony of the chants. From her megaphone she would repeatedly ask protestors to disperse and go home, reminding everyone of the curfew that we’d been placed under and the now unlawfulness of our gathering.

There was a helicopter zooming above us, sporadically shining its spotlight on the crowd.

The citizens chanted, powerfully charged words aimed at ears that weren’t all in attendance. But it felt like they could be heard from anywhere in the world, that’s how mighty and potent they were.

Flashbangs and tear gas canisters were thrown haphazardly towards us. Screams and moans followed suit as anyone close by endured through the choking, burning sensations. Strangers ran to strangers with water or milk to help alleviate any pain.

At 9:56 p.m.,Nevada’s National Guard and SWAT teams were deployed. This is when everything escalated. They added to their attack with rubber bullets to try and deter those still out on the streets. A guy was hit in the arm with a flashbang and his blood pooled on the ground as others carried him away. The chanting never stopped, “No Justice, No Peace.”

Suddenly, the policing forces swarmed the crowds, marching forward across the bridge. There were scattered shouts and scuffs of running shoes as we were corralled further south onto Virginia St. in the direction of Midtown.

I watched as: two men picked up a newspaper dispenser and used it to smash a truck’s windshield; local business windows shattered on the impact of rocks thrown; a car was lit on fire while some hooted and hollered, others stood still watching it burn.

A suited man with a red-striped fedora, played his accordion amidst the chaos.

It was close to midnight by the time I decided to leave just as the SWAT teams began circling a large parking lot with their K-9 unit advancing towards where I stood dazed beside my friend Arian.

In parting, I asked Arian, “Do you think this was enough?”

“Do you think we affected change?”

Photos and Recollection by Jaycee Grider shared with the Reynolds Sandbox

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