Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ took on a new, more transcendent meaning for a moment in Cleveland, Ohio over the weekend.
The Black Lives Matter conference at Cleveland State University turned intense on Saturday when police officers arrested Jonathan Walsh, a 14-year-old boy, for allegedly being intoxicated on a bus, and for allegedly having an open container with alcohol, according to ABC 5 News. Walsh was taken into custody, much to the dismay of the activists on hand, who believed he was being arrested unnecessarily. When they voiced their concerns, officers pepper sprayed on the crowd causing more confusion and anger amongst those gathered.
As the growing crowd continued to peacefully exhort authorities to release the young man, seemingly out of nowhere, in the midst of all of that intensity, a butterfly gracefully floated above the protestors. The poetic irony of the moment was not lost crowd and they immediately broke into a spontaneous rendition of Kendrick Lamar‘s “Alright” — the latest single off of his sophomore album “To Pimp A Butterfly.”
Check out the moment below:
The songs lyrics, and the striking visuals presented in its video paint a picture of existential hope in spite of the troubling state of the relationship between America’s police forces and young black and brown men and women. A butterfly floating over a crowd of black and brown people and inspiring a chant of “We Gon Be Alright” as they protested the arrest of a young black boy — who was detained near a conference whose purpose was to affirm that black lives matter — might be the most stirring example of the importance and power of protest music since “We Shall Overcome” was heard at marches throughout the south during the Civil Rights Movement.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority released a statement following the incident:
Transit Police followed normal procedure, which is — after pertinent information is collected, to release the juvenile to a parent or legal guardian.
Within minutes, a large crowd had gathered, surrounding the bus shelter. For the safety of the juvenile, Transit Police moved him from the open shelter area to a police cruiser. The crowd then surrounded the car, with some individuals pounding on the car in an attempt to remove the juvenile from the car. By this time, several other law enforcement agencies had also responded.
Not long after the incident began, Walsh was released to the custody of his mother.
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