By Jacob Fenston, June 19, 2020, WBUR.
Michael Blackson, a 17-year-old high school senior from Southeast D.C., was among the thousands of people protesting racism and police brutality in front of the White House recently.
In the shaky video footage Michael took with his phone, you can see rows of federal police in riot gear, just on the other side of the black chain link fence. Beyond the police: Lafayette Square, and the White House. All along the fence protestors are yelling expletives at the stony-faced police. Then you can hear Michael's voice from behind the camera.
"Sir! I respect you," Michael says through the fence. The officer is white. He's wearing khaki camouflage, helmet and sunglasses, and what appear to be canisters of tear gas dangling from his uniform. He turns to Michael, and nods, almost imperceptibly, before turning away.
Michael says that moment has stuck with him. He made a connection through the fence, however brief and silent.
"I just wanted to have a dialog, that's all I wanted. But he just like nodded, and that was enough for me."