More than 500 residents of Cabin John, Bannockburn, Glen Echo, and surrounding communities recently joined with millions around the world to peacefully protest against police brutality and an end to institutional racism.
The local Black Lives Matter event, held June 6, 2020, was organized by Cabin John resident Debra Budiani-Saberi with the support of local mothers Brandy Swayze and Jen Jordan. The concept quickly evolved from Debra’s poster-making gatherings into what materialized as a stunning community based, peaceful, child-family-senior-friendly demonstration with protesters socially distanced over four miles of the bike path along MacArthur Blvd., stretching from the Brookmont neighborhood to Persimmon Tree Rd.
After some 45 minutes of standing in solidarity with BLM protesters elsewhere, many of the demonstrators made their way to the park by the one-lane bridge to observe a moment of silence for black lives lost due to police brutality and to hear from a number of speakers. U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, fired up with the U.S. Constitution in hand, outlined new legislation to hold police accountable that was being drafted in the Maryland House of Representatives.
Two brilliant Bethesda Gen Z-ers, Ian Shayan and Sam Smith, shared their perspectives as did a number of other speakers. “I’m proud to see such a diverse mix of people here today. Your support is indeed inspiring,” noted Sam’s dad, Michael Smith. “But now that we’re all together, we need to have some honest conversations with one another. We can’t ‘get there’ if we’re not willing to ‘go there.’ So let’s all go there together.”
The community showed up to listen to black persons’ experiences of racial targeting and violence, reflections on white privilege and to ally towards making change. The road to ending injustices and narrowing disparities is long and uphill. Yet new and renewed commitments are in the making. May we forge ahead with courageous conversations and actions to deepen our healing and expand privileges. May this indeed be the darkness of the womb and an era of rebirthing.
Taking a collective and public stand, here in our own community with family and neighbors, for an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and systemic racism is a small and important step forward. All ages young and old came together to say— enough is enough. A challenging road still lies ahead, and hashtags and social media posts are not where the work lies. We need each other as a source of strength to walk the talk and hold each other accountable in the long haul. May we continue to act on our convictions.
Thank you to Cabin John residents Susan Shipp, Deborah Duffy, and Burr Grey for your logistical assistance. This spontaneous event would have not been possible without your quick and timely help. Deep appreciation for the Bannockburn PTA Diversity and Inclusion Committee for endorsing this event.
BY JEN JORDAN AND BY DEBRA BUDIANI-SABERI