He has got his, I got mine, meet the decline.

(cautiously steps on soap box)

Last night was weird.

After a late dinner at a Thai restaurant in downtown Berkeley I am in a car with Ellie heading back to her place. We stop at a stoplight. We are lost in each others company and enjoying being full of some of the better Thai food I have had in a long time. A man with an army helmet strapped to his camera bag and multiple cameras around his neck politely knocks the window while we wait for the light to turn green. I am new to her car so I fumble to for the roll down the window control and unlock the door by mistake. He quickly opens the back door and jumps in.

"TURN AROUND NOW, THE RIOT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU" says the man said pointing at the large crowd right infront of us that we were completely unaware to.

It was about 11pm and the protest turned ugly. Rocks were being thrown, I saw flares and smoke and the photographer told us that he was scared because the police disappeared. He just returned from shooting what was happening in Ferguson and he was scared of what was happening here.

I can't begin to understand what being black in America is like. I have lived a life of privilege and being a middle class white kid from the suburbs means I have no experiential understanding on what it's like to be oppressed. I don't know what it's like to be 21 more times likely to be shot by the police just for my skin color or to be so frustrated with the status quo that I feel obligated to throw rocks at local businesses.

The only thing I can do and what I hope people in power see this as an opportunity to listen and change our viewpoints.

Last night was scary for a lot of people. Is violence the only way for the oppressed to be heard?

NOFX said in the The Decline the following:

"Why go against tradition when we can admit defeat, live in decline, be the victim of our own design, the status quo, built on suspect...Why would anyone stick out their neck?"

I see truth in this. The reason why we see these protests and that they are destructive in nature is that the status quo is to be suspect. There isn't empathy, there's no trying to understand. There's suspicion.

We drop off the photographer at an intersection head back to Ellie's place with the sound of police helicopters circling above us. He tells us to stay safe and we say the same to him.

I am not saying that I am not suspicious or I am not above this, but I am willing to listen, and help and try to understand.

(steps down from soapbox)

David Herbert

Oakland, California