Watch: Looking for justice at the ACL Fest gates

For a couple hours on Saturday afternoon, the first amplified voice people heard at Austin City Limits Music Festival was Fatima Mann. With a megaphone in her hand and volunteers with clipboards in theirs, she spoke passionately about inequality in a city often considered progressive, as an effort to raise awareness for her organization, Counter Balance: ATX.

Lack of healthy foods. Insufficient transportation options. Mann’s megaphone ran down a laundry list of social issues just on the other side of Barton Springs Road from the ACL gates, as crowds of revelers bands rocked out to bands like JR JR and Caveman inside Zilker Park.

Fatima Mann, executive director of Counter Balance: ATX, protests outside Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

Fatima Mann, executive director of Counter Balance: ATX, protests outside Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

According to their Facebook page, Counter Balance: ATX is a grassroots organization that hopes to “counterbalance the oppressive structure that society has created which traditionally exploits women, black, brown, and poor people.” Mann, also co-founder of Austin Justice Coalition, said that this organization is only a couple of weeks old. They have 10 people on the board and are actively recruiting membership, hence showing up to a music festival’s doorstep. And though she said Counter Balance: ATX is not a feminist organization, she said they are dedicated to promoting the need for women’s self-care and community. As Mann sees it, you “can’t talk about liberation without talking about women.”

Kristina Brown, a University of Texas at Austin graduate student participating in the demonstration, said that a lot of the narrative in the national conversation on race is focused on men of color.

“The plight of women is often ignored or forgotten,” Brown said.

The wives, mothers and families of those killed in police shootings are underserved, Brown said, adding that Counter Balance: ATX is working to develop programs that focus on mental health resources and community advocacy to address just that.

“David Joseph’s mother is still dealing with trauma,” Brown said, referring to the 17-year-old shot by an Austin police officer in February.

Fatima Mann and Kristina Brown. (Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

Fatima Mann and Kristina Brown. (Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

Though the organizations have worked together, Brown said that they are not officially affiliated with the Austin chapter of Black Lives Matter. Counter Balance: ATX isn’t focused solely on police brutality, she said, so the organization felt it necessary to be a separate entity.

“People associate certain things with Black Lives Matter, and that’s unfortunate,” Brown said.

As Mann walked down Barton Springs Road with her megaphone, she also drew a distinction.

“We’re not saying black lives matter,” Mann said into the mouthpiece to passersby. “We’re saying people’s lives matter.”

Watch the video above for more.

Reader Comments 0

0 comments