In the midst of a global pandemic, thousands of people have protested in cities across the country advocating for an end to police brutality. Joel Teklu, a Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School alumni, is one of them.

On June 1st, Teklu participated, for the first time, in a protest this past summer, in DC. “My experience protesting, for the most part, was very stressful because there were so many people and a lot of things were going on so trying to stay safe was a priority,” said Teklu. With police using tear gas and pepper spray, a “mini stampede” would emerge as people tried to run to safety.

Later in the evening, Teklu was taken into custody by the police during one of the protests. “What was crazy about the whole situation was that we could have made curfew but the police and military trapped us in an intersection not allowing us to leave even though it was around 6:30 [pm],” he said. Teklu livestreamed on social media as he was separated from the rest of the protestors by the police. After hours of moving on and off vans, being asked questions, and getting fingerprinted, Joel Teklu was finally able to leave the station at 4 a.m. 

Despite the risk of COVID-19 and the dangers posed by police at protests, people continue to go out and make their voices heard. “Now is the time to come together and demand what we want from our government.” Teklu said, “It is important to go out and fight for what’s right even though we are living during a pandemic.”

“This isn’t only a BLM movement. We are standing against the corruption of not only American leaders but leaders worldwide,” Joel Teklu said. “Money and greed have only brought chaos and madness to the world. It’s time for peace.”