On June 24 of last year, the Trump administration put up a fence to stifle the noise of protesters demonstrating their First Amendment right during the summer of George Floyd Protests. Posters, art and photos of Black people killed by police began to collect on the fence. White supremacists came from all over to tear it down. The guardians stepped up and made it their mission to defend the fence. They put their bodies on the line 24/7 for four months straight.
Undeterred, they protected and restored vandalized signs. They helped protect demonstrators, and the fence did not keep away the music, the drums, the chants or the marches. They occupied the space and protected the art, creating the Black lives Matter Memorial Fence.
During the Capitol insurrection, White supremacists and extremist groups came to destroy the fence. They shouted the n-word at the guardians and threatened to come back and kill them. Irwin strapped Seiler into her bullet-proof vest, and they did not move.
Historic fence added to national archives
The D.C. public library digitally scanned the fence and plans to store it in their archives when it gets back from its nation-wide tour.
The guardian of the fence duo brought some of the original pieces from the fence in D.C. to create a specific memorial fence in Tulsa to make it personal to Greenwood. Moreover, Seiler and Irwin posted the names and photos of Tulsans killed by police as well as survivors from the Tulsa Race Massacre on the newly erected memorial.
“They do have white guilt, which is good,” Seiler told The Black Wall Street Times. “It’s making them think, and even if they don’t actually get it right now, they’re speaking. Most of them are not being defensive, so there is an opportunity for them to hear our perspective and how we see things from our frame of reference.”
Reverend Robert Turner with Vernon A.M.E. Church agreed to host the fence guardians and their memorial amongst other events.
Behind the fence is a cage installation with the Greenwood Art Project. In the middle of the fence hangs a poster that acknowledges the location as Stratford Hotel’s original place of business. Seiler and Irwin are honored to stand amongst history as they continue to make some of their own.
Robin Fader is producing a film titled, “The Fence,” that follows their journey through D.C. and beyond. Although they are receiving attention, they are still in need of funding to help take their fence across the U.S.
It will cost over $700 to get their U-Haul and travel. You can donate to their GoFundMe or share with friends. Beyond that, they are seeking businesses or organizations that may be able to host them at their future locations. They plan to visit Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“We are planning to go to the hotspots where they are enacting these voter suppression laws, especially, and these anti-women laws in Pennsylvania,” Seiler said.
The guardians ask that interested participants make your messages specific to Tulsa and your family. They have chalk, posters, markers, lids you can spray paint and more. All you have to do is show up to Vernon A.M.E. and bring your creativity.
“We have to resist,” Seiler said. “We cannot become complacent and say ‘Oh, somebody else will do it.’ We each have to make a stance and have our voice heard.”
Ashley Jones and Lauryn Terry contributed to this report. Ashley Jones is a writer for The Black Wall Street Times. Lauryn Terry is an intern for The Black Wall Street Times.