Posted on September 4, 2020

I Was the Woman Surrounded by BLM Protesters at a D.C. Restaurant. Here’s Why I Didn’t Raise My Fist.

Lauren Victor, Washington Post, September 3, 2020

Why didn’t I just raise my fist?

Last week, I went out to dinner in D.C. with a friend. As we sat outside at a neighborhood restaurant, a group of protesters surrounded our table and demanded that I raise my fist in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I had marched repeatedly in the past several months in support of their cause, but I refused their demands. That interaction wound up in a viral video that within 48 hours had been viewed more than 12 million times.

{snip} I have a few thoughts to share.


As the marchers closed in on our table, I could not see any protest signs. I asked who they were and why they were marching. No one would answer me. Why march and hold back your message? This was not your usual Black Lives Matter protest, or really, any other protest I have attended. Marchers are usually delighted to tell you about their mission.

When they crowded around my table and started demanding that I raise my fist, it was their insistence that I participate in something that I did not understand that led me to withhold my hand. {snip}

{snip} My instincts kept telling me this was not a crowd inclined to perpetuate violence with more violence. In the end, someone said “let’s go,” and the protesters moved on. They were not pleased with me, but I was not hurt in any way. No one ever tried to raise my hand for me or threw so much as a paper straw in my direction.


I have actively participated in protests since this event. I have experienced nothing coercive from my fellow protesters, nor toward bystanders. I wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement; however, I also support an individual’s choice to participate in a protest, or not.

The video looks scary, and, in fact, I felt fear at that moment. But as I scanned the crowd, I also felt great hope and appreciation. This was a group of mostly young people of many racial backgrounds working together to sustain a movement to uphold Black people’s civil rights. There are worse ways to spend a Monday night.