Saturday night, Tee Fansofa was hit in the face with a tear gas canister, and in the face and body with several rubber bullets, while bringing snacks and water to friends protesting in downtown Sacramento.
Fansofa is currently in the hospital recovering from their injuries. They joined CapRadio’s Randol White to discuss what happened Saturday and what their recovery looks like.
Here are some highlights from their conversation.
On what they saw at the protests
It was between 10:30 and 11:30 and things were happening so fast ... But I went out to that area because I knew folks were out there [at 21st and J Streets]. Everyone was scattered everywhere. I couldn't figure out where anyone was. There were flash bangs, like in the sky, like I was a block away. So I had to go down the alleys and try to look for people and it was really hard to place people. It was chaotic. It was like a war zone. It was like protests that I've seen internationally. And they were just firing. It was like a firing squad. They were shooting rubber bullets at crowds in the same intersection.
I saw what was going on and I was just shocked. I saw them shooting tear gas canisters like what they do in Palestine and other countries that are oppressing peoples. And I just needed to go look at it. I just needed to see if this was like the same situation.
On getting hit with a tear gas canister and several rubber bullets
Once I went over there, I wasn't thinking honestly, but knowing what I know about the police and the state violence, I went over there. I shouldn't have done this, but I picked up this tear gas can just to look at it and before I knew it, I was knocked to the ground. And then I realized I was hit by something. And then someone pulled me, yanked me as I was crawling because I was so scared. I didn't know what was going on and I knew that I was going to get hit again because they were constantly shooting. And luckily, I don't think I got into a concussion because someone yanked me so hard off the ground that I got right up and started walking. And luckily, I found my friends there at that moment. And then my head started gushing with blood. And there was so much love in the streets. Someone took off their shirt, wrapped it on my head to stop the bleeding.
On their upcoming surgery
My surgery should be today [Wednesday]. I'm hoping it's today. It's been three days I've been waiting. But I got hit by one tear gas canister that gave me a gash on my head that broke my eyebrow bone. I have three fractures in my skull. I have a brain bleed that isn't serious enough for neurosurgery, so I'm very fortunate. I have some dead brain tissue, but not enough to go in on. So I have two facial procedures, one for my cheekbone. My jaw can't open all the way. It's broken so they have to pop it out, maybe put in a titanium plate. And also with my eyebrow, they have to go and be careful with my eye.
On having to tell their community what happened to them
There's so much love for each other and we want to protect each other. And it's enraging. If I found out that my friend was directly attacked in this manner, I would want to burn the city down. The police and the city is escalating this by doing all of this. They don't want riots? They don't want looters? Then stop escalating the situation. Give people room for conversation. Let people grieve. There's so much more to address the problem. And [Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg] is just not it. Under his watch: Stephon Clark, Darell Richards, Brandon Smith, Marshall Miles, Joseph Mann. How many people? And that's all that we know of. How long are we going to keep doing this?
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
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