Black Lives Matter activist and Denver school board member Tay Anderson, an instrumental organizer in recent protests against police brutality, appeared Monday evening on PBS NewsHour and CNN to talk about how racial tensions are playing out in Denver since George Floyd was killed May 25.
“As a black man, every day I wake up and wonder, will I be able to go home? I have had my own fair share of interactions of being pulled over and not knowing, what do you reach for first, or do you put your hands up or put them out of the window?” Anderson told PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff.
“And so to see that George Floyd was killed is heartbreaking. But it is not the first time that we have had to gather like this. And I hope that it will be the last,” he said.
Anderson tweeted Monday that he was making the “painful decision” to stay home while protests continue, after a Google search of his name showed that people have searched for “Tay Anderson shot” and “Tay Anderson shot in back of head.” He said he refused to put anyone at risk by continuing to attend protests.
“In Denver, we have explicitly asked what we call allies that are showing up to please not escalate on our behalf,” he told Woodruff. “But those asks have been ignored.
“And, right now, we are seeing our city being destroyed. And it is not in the name of black organizers or Black Lives Matter as a movement. People are taking it on their own volition,” he said. “And it's heartbreaking to see that those who come out to support the cause are using the cause for their own agenda.”
Later Monday evening in an interview with CNN, anchor Don Lemon asked Anderson how he has responded to looters who show up at the protests.
"We said, 'If you are here to loot, if you are here to destroy — go home.' We're not here to play these games with you. You're not going to destroy this city in the name of Black Lives Matter."
Without intervention, Anderson said, you run the risk of having the Black Lives Matter movement discredited and mistaken for brandishing violence.
The activist is hopeful for peace, he told Woodruff, but he remains cautious.
“I think our generation is waking up. But I also think that there are people in this generation that are using this moment and this movement for a trend on Twitter, for a TikTok video, or to go viral on social media, which is disgusting.
“We shouldn't have white kids coming from the suburbs, throwing stuff at police officers on our behalf to be cool for a nice trend,” he continued. “That is not what we have asked for. And it's hurting us more than it is going to help us.”
What he wants for the future, he said, is for people to “actually start understanding that Black Lives Matter is not about asking for special privilege.
“It's just saying, black people just want to be seen as human.”