Juneteenth: Celebrate diversity!
Happy Juneteenth, everyone!
On June 19, 1865 General Gordon Granger of the United States Army stood upon a balcony in Galveston, Texas and reaffirmed the Emancipation Proclamation that had been declared three years earlier. Thus the slaves of Texas were freed and a state holiday was born: Juneteenth.
Although it is celebrated mostly in Texas, the Juneteenth holiday is gaining support in other states. By the end of 2009 at least 36 states had recognized the holiday. Typical celebrations include forming mobs and beating random people. Another favorite tradition is to block streets and then smash stopped cars. Ah, diversity! 1
The 2006 Milwaukee celebration ended with “revelers” starting fights with tentpoles they had stolen. 2
In 2007 David Rivas Morales and his friend Victor were driving to an apartment complex in Austin, Texas. The nearby Juneteenth celebrations had attracted several thousand people to the area and their car struck a 2 year-old boy. When the driver and Morales exited the vehicle to check on the child they were attacked by a large mob and Morales was beaten to death. The child sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 3
Back in Milwaukee the people decided to celebrate more joyously in 2007 than ever before. So they dragged Pat Kasthurirangaian out of his car and beat him. “They broke my nose, they busted my lip in many places and I have a fractured eye socket,” said Kasthurirangaian. He doesn’t know who it was and he doesn’t know why they did it. 4
“It all happened so fast. They started banging on the car. I don't know exactly now, but I was trying to dial 911 on my cell phone. They managed to open the door and pull the cell phone out of my hand,” Kasthurirangaian remembered. 5
“They didn’t know who I was, I don’t know, I’ve never seen them before. They didn’t say a single word to me. And I know a lot of people in that neighborhood, given that I work there, and I was looking for faces that I recognize, they just wanted to beat me up.” 6
The crowd dispersed after police officers arrived on horseback. Another car had been attacked before the beating of Mr. Kasthurirangaian. The first driver had smashed into another vehicle as he attempted to escape the crowds, but was not injured. 7
On another Milwaukee street a police sergeant attempted to break up a fight between some girls. One of the girls turned on him and smashed his face-mask (a necessary precaution for Juneteenth celebrations) and broken material cut into his face. 8
In another incident that day, three women were busy fighting when an 18-year-old male joined the melee and said he’d return with a gun. And return he did – firing five shots into a crowd and hitting a 39-year-old man. 9
How will you celebrate?