Micheal got to the Black Lives Matter protest in Broward at 3:30 on Sunday, May 31st, with his boss and coworkers from his organization New Florida Majority. Everything was “relatively peaceful,” said Micheal. They had a pep rally, which started in the park, with representatives from Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and many more. There were speakers giving speeches to the crowd, and giving them instructions on how to start marching. So they started marching and chanting peacefully.
They walked towards the Ft. Lauderdale police department, where more speeches were given. There were police officers on the roof, and one person said they saw a sniper on the roof. When they started walking back they stopped at the jail. After they marched they came back to the park they were started, Michael met up with more people that he knew. The official Black Lives Matter march was over.
“We were sitting in the park, talking, we weren’t doing anything, we weren’t disturbing anyone we were literally just sitting in the park.”
Then they saw a large group of people walking towards a direction, they heard more chanting so they thought it was just a second group continuing to protest. So Michael and his friends started walking in that direction.
“Again everything was peaceful” “no one was doing anything that was provocative in any shape or form.”
“And all of a sudden everyone starts running in the opposite direction” and Michael is not really sure why, so he keeps walking forward, then he hears an explosion but he is not sure where its coming from. Still not sure what is happening, Micheal keeps walking, “everybody is scattered at this point.” Micheal had lost his friends, then he began to feel everything starting to burn.
“My lungs are starting to burn, and I really wasn’t sure what that was, and then my face started to burn, then my eyes started to burn, and I couldn’t open my eyes, and I was discombobulated. I didn’t think I was close to the tear gas, that’s why I didn’t identify it as tear gas, I wasn’t sure what it was.”
Discombobulated, tears coming out of his eyes, yet he can’t open them. This random girl from the crowd asked if he was ok and offered to help him.
“I can help you, I have saline. I have water.” she said.
She takes his hand and walks him away from the tear gas, she gives him water, but his face and eyes are still burning, so she puts saline in his eyes. And while this is happening, they are still hearing explosions happening around them.
“People we’re yelling and going back and forth. It was very chaotic”
The girl helped Michael for ten minutes or so, once he started feeling a little better she disappeared into the crowd. Micheal starts walking away from the crowd, “I was still discombobulated, I was disoriented.” But he managed to call an uber and safetly gets in the car.
Thankfully his friends were relatively safe, “even though one of them got hit by a rubber bullet twice” on his upper body. Later on in the night, the burning eased down, the next day his eyes were still burning a little, but he felt fine by the end of the night.
These photos taken by Jonathan De Camps were paired with an actual recounted experience of the event where the photos were taken place. See more photos from Jonathan on his website.