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Eyewitness account from Dallas protest where shooting took place

Olinka Green speaks
By staff |
July 14, 2016
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Fight Back! interviewed Olinka Green, a Dallas area activist who has been very prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement, but who is also known for Palestine solidarity work, support for the struggle of trans people, anti-war work, and activism on many other issues that are important to progressives. We sat down with her to hear what she had to say about recent events in Dallas.

Fight Back!: What happened at the rally? Were you there?

Olinka Green: Yes, I was there. I was one of the organizers of the rally. The news has really focused Next Generation Action Network, Dominique Alexander and Jeff Hood, in putting the rally together. And they were involved, but they weren't the only ones. The group I work with, Dallas Action Coalition, also helped organize it. Changa Higgins was another of the organizers.

What happened... It was at the end of the rally. The different groups of marchers were getting to the end point and starting to break up. And all of a sudden, we heard shots. Rat-tat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat-tat. It sounded military. And I just yelled for everyone to run. Some of the organizers, we were standing in the street, yelling for people to run. And they did. Some of them we had to help, if they had children or something, they couldn't run that fast.

We didn't know who was shooting or whom they were shooting at. Didn't really stop to think about it, but when I did, what I thought was that they were shooting at us, like in Minnesota. [Last November, in Minnesota, four white-supremacists shot at a protest of the killing of Jamar Clark]

At first we got into a DART bus, and I told everyone to crouch down in the aisle, not to sit up in the seats, because the shooter could see us through the windows. I told the bus driver to go, but he said he had instructions from DART and all the buses were supposed to stay where they were. He did turn out all the lights on the bus though. Then, everyone got out their cell phones and they were texting, and it lit up the whole bus, so that wasn't a good situation.

We talked about whether to stay in the bus or to go, and some wanted to stay and some wanted to run into the Omni, so we split up, but everyone that wanted to go, we went together, and we just ran toward the Omni.

We saw some police who were hiding behind a building, and they said to us, “Don't you see us hiding? There's a reason we're hiding.”

We went into the Omni, and there was broken glass. I don't know what happened with that, if a bullet went that far or what. Everyone had to get away from the windows, and then we went into the restaurant. One of the people who worked in the restaurant told us we couldn't use the bathrooms, so I cussed him out, and someone else came out who was more reasonable. Then we actually barricaded ourselves in one of the rooms, and we were putting a mop through the door handles so no one could open it, when the SWAT turned up.

I think there is a rumor that there were shots in the Omni, but I didn't hear any. We ran that way because the shooting was the other way. And we just stayed there until it was safe to leave.

Fight Back!: What is the situation now? Has the city returned to normal?

Green: No, really it hasn't. A big part of downtown is still blocked off. There are police and state troopers and sheriff's cars parked everywhere. There's even a Red Cross truck. It's being treated as an active crime scene.

A lot of people had their cars parked in the blocked off area, and they haven't been able to get them. They're saying now people will be able to get their cars today [Tuesday, July 12], but it's been very bad for people who had to get to work on Friday or Monday.

Even if you had medicine in your car, the police would tell you to go to the emergency room and get some more. They wouldn't let you get it out.

I had my purse with my cell phone and everything in someone's car that is in the blocked off area, so I haven't had that since Thursday. I hope I'm going to get it back today.

Fight Back!: What do you think about what the mayor and the police chief have said about healing and like this?

Green: The whole city has been traumatized. I certainly have, but other people had it worse. So there's no doubt we need healing. And we'd like reconciliation.

But when they talk about Dallas on the BBC and so on they say it's different here, that we have good relations with our police, and it just isn't so. Dallas police are rough. People who live here, Black and Latino people especially, know that. Clinton Allen, Jason Harrison, Tobias Mackey and many, many more. We don't have to go out of state to find people the police have killed.

Chief Brown, he is big on community involvement programs, town hall meetings and all that. I call those lipstick programs. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it will still be a pig. How can we really have healing or reconciliation if the violence against us doesn't stop? We can't.

Fight Back!: What does this mean for the Black Lives Matter movement?

Green: We are very worried about it. We're worried about being called terrorists, and we're worried about people getting more violent against us.

We live in a very violent society. It's violent here at home, and then our government is violent in the rest of the world. And they're connected. I've marched against violence here, police violence against our people, and I've marched against war.

And people say what about Black on Black violence, but I've marched against violence in the community, too. A few months ago we had a big run of shootings in Dallas, and we organized against that, we had a stop the violence rally.

So even if they call us terrorists, we're going to keep marching for peace, keep marching against violence and keep marching for justice.

And it hasn't stopped. Sunday I was at a protest against police brutality in one part of Dallas and another protest was happening on the other side of the city that I didn't even know about. I don't even know the people who organized it. I think they're new to the movement.

Then yesterday some young people shut down 75, which is one of the main highways through North Dallas, and there was a town hall meeting some activists put together. And there is plenty more in the works.

We're not going to stop and we can't stop, and really more and more people are taking to the streets.

We marched for Freddy Gray and we marched for Mike Brown, and now with Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, people see that nothing has really changed. They're frustrated. They really don't even think marches are going to do it. But they're still marching.

Fight Back!: Thank you for your time.