Two years ago today, I disrupted Rudy Giuliani's hate-filled Islamophobic speech at the Republican National Convention.
These photos capture the moments during the action when my shouts deafened the arena and captured media attention as cameras shifted from the stage to where I stood with my banner, when an agitated Rudy Giuliani noticed me in the upper deck, when my friends greeted me after the action.
The photos don't capture the moments between when I was navigating my way into the arena, negotiating with police about my removal from the arena, or when police let me out of their custody into a street flooded with delegates who shouted me down and threatened me. As the "Did I just see you on CNN/MSNBC?" texts rolled in from loved ones across the country, a Republican delegate standing with his wife told me that I should be raped by the refugees I love so much. I asked the police to escort back to my group that waited outside the convention gates but my need was ignored, despite the threats I was receiving. Like civil disobedience begets violence.
I've been training in the art and practice of nonviolent direct action and strategic nonviolence for nearly a decade and I've employed these skills on countless occasions. Some occasions have garnered stellar press and communicated a story or a message with great effectiveness - all actions contain multitudes of stories to learn from. Some of those stories become clearer over time. Because social justice isn't stagnant and because we are often looking to the past to move us forward, I find myself revisiting these actions often.
I think about the actions I've taken over the years and what it has taught me about myself and others. These actions have shaped my insights and sharpened my instincts - though, admittedly I don't always trust those instincts. I should have trusted my sense about Trump's supporters after I was pummeled and kicked and violated in the crowd at his Las Vegas Rally just months earlier. I had unfurled a banner just feet from the podium where he stumped and shouted "Stop the Hate" - Trump told his crowd that I didn't need my jacket that had been taken and that I was "a young woman who was lost... to hell with her." In that moment, he demonstrated a lack of care about me and my physical well-being that was immediately echoed by his supporters. I was aggressively swarmed, attacked, buried with signs, and called all sorts of horrific things by a choir of people whose conductor just issued a free for all notice before being whisked away from the stage by police.
A young man at the RNC walked right up to me and told me women won't be needed for reproduction soon so we will be locked in gas chambers -- before he waved his badge to security and walked inside the convention to nominate the next President of the United States.
The pictures are epic and tell an incredible story, but not the full story of what these actions elicit. I constantly want to see and believe the best in people - this is what motivates me to take these actions. But the darkness I see is too hard to ignore and I am doing a disservice to myself and others not to talk about it.