On Saturday, 21-year-old Zeelee Segura attended a protest at the La Mesa Police Department in La Mesa, California.
This was just one of numerous protests that have erupted throughout the United States these past few days in response to the nation's systemic racism and deadly instances of police brutality.
Many protests have been escalated by police officers using tear gas, batons, rubber bullets, and pepper spray on demonstrators.
Zeelee told BuzzFeed that the protest she attended started out very peaceful. "We all just chanted and held up our signs. Some people tried to say their piece with the officers, but they weren’t willing to look any of us in the eye. It was cowardice. You could tell the officers were plotting something because at one point most of them were rushed back inside the station and came back with riot gear and gas masks on."
The demonstrators were warned that they were about to be tear gassed. "An officer told us that it would most likely be an 8/10 on the pain scale," Zeelee said. Once the crowd was tear gassed, everyone began to flee, and the officers started shooting them with rubber bullets, she said. While Zeelee was running, she checked to see if her friend was behind her. "When I turned around, I looked an officer on the roof in the eyes and he shot me." Here's her TikTok about it:
"It was weird. You have a quick second where you can see the bullet coming towards you, but it’s not enough time to react," she told BuzzFeed. "I'm glad it was me though, because there was a pregnant woman within feet of me and a child."
Her video now has more than 3 million views. When asked why she decided to post the TikTok, Zeelee said, "I think sometimes it’s easier for people to grasp what black people go through when they can actually see the pain in our eyes. I hate to say that and I wish it wasn’t true. But it is nice to see how many people were supportive. I really didn’t expect that." Here are just a few of the thousands of comments on her video:
"I want people to know that protests begin in peace and then have the power to become violent. A lot of the violence begins with the police though, and I am upset the narrative is the other way around," she said.
"I would also ask people to remember that it is not our job to judge the way people choose to protest," Zeelee said. "We have faced 400 years of oppression and every day we have to wake up and fight for our right to be seen as human and we are tired."
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