“Hey, y’all changing brake lights?” a man called out to us as we were setting up in the morning. “Yeah!” an organizer called back.
The man, sitting out on his balcony patio further down the block toward Esplanade Avenue, turned to the woman sitting next to him for a moment and then called back out again: “She didn’t believe me!”
On the first anniversary of the Brake Light Clinic, our mutual aid program has begun to become a monthly fixture in Kruttschnitt Park in the 7th Ward. People in the neighborhood know we’re here every month, plenty of people have come by because a friend or a family member told them about it, and some who’ve come back for a second time. At this particular clinic on August 25th, 19 people signed waivers, meaning we had organizers looking at least that many cars, working to solve issues from a simple broken bulb to a broken tailgate. Of those, nine signed up for more information and will be contacted by an organizer.
This speaks to the organizing power of this mutual aid program. Neighbors who’ve had in-depth conversations with our organizers instantly understand why we do this work and why it’s important work, and organizers gain experience in engaging others to want to know more about what we do and maybe even want to get involved.
This clinic had 14 volunteers, and we needed them. There were a number of times where we had up to 4 cars getting lights changed by organizers. One organizer spoke with a community member who had been stopped by the same police officer three nights in a row, on the same stretch of road. The clinic was an opportunity for our organizers to share with folks in the community about how common behavior like this from law enforcement fits into a larger pattern of harassment tactics.