GBHS Alumni Reflects on his BLM Seattle Protest Act of Heroism

Service and Selflessness Shared with GCC and Public Service Signature Students

Ameena Misbahou-Jalloh, Reporter

Black Lives Matter (BLM) protester and gopher alumni, Daniel Gregory, survived gunshot injuries by a man who intentionally drove into a crowd of BLM protesters in Seattle, Washington on June 7, 2020. Gregory’s acts to save the crowd, running alongside a car and grabbing the driver’s steering wheel, were broadcast worldwide.

Speaking via Google Meet live from Seattle to the Signature Classes at GBHS, Gregory explained this experience:

While he was eating a hotdog, he heard car squeaks and people yelling stop and saw the shooter’s window down. After a spiritual feeling of a higher power, in this case, God ‘told him’ to stop the car. He punched the man twice and decided to pull him out of his car, but the man quickly turned away from Gregory, causing Gregory to move. He then heard a gunshot go off and laid down immediately, without realizing that he was shot. He had played basketball in high school, where they are taught to “walk off” any pain. As a result, he channeled that healing energy. As he laid on the ground, he meditated and went to his happy place, which is the beach. He claimed he couldn’t have made it through that pain if it wasn’t for meditation. At that moment, his emotions were numb, or “blank” as he called it, along with his arms, legs, and hands. Despite these disturbing circumstances, he remained grateful for stopping the car and saving possible victims.

Gregory explained to the GCC, Public Service 1 and 2 students how his life was tremendously impacted following the incident.  He soon developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Every time he has an episode, he travels back to the moment he was shot.

Not only was his mental health significantly affected, but people began to treat him differently. Gregory explained that people were more cautious of what they said around him, compared to before the incident.

Although many people paint Gregory as a hero, he says he “is just Dan.”

That being said, I asked him a series of questions to get to know Dan beyond this impactful act of service.

● What are you doing now?
Other than mental and physical healing, I am working on starting something called “dialogue” in the park, which is pretty much open discussion about community issues. Locals are invited to come to sit down in our local park, like a picnic to come up with solutions for different problems. It’s a new type of protest. A much safer way to protest.

● What was your favorite memory of high school?
My favorite moment was my embarrassing moment. I had the stomach flu one school day before a basketball game. I told Coach Rudd about the stomach flu during lunch that day. I preferred to suit up that day to be a part of the team’s win. That night during the game, I checked in the game, only to sub out because I had [a sudden diarrhea onset]. That was my favorite moment because it allowed me to prove to myself that I was stronger than I actually was. I completed the game and played the rest of the year with the team. While I felt disrespected by the school and the coaching staff over a bad day, I still managed to not let that change me and affect me as a person. In fact, I grew stronger because of it. I share that to let you guys know that we all have ups and downs, and people love to see other people fall. But getting back up is always key. If I let that moment eat me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

● If you had to re-make the world out of only one food, which one would you choose?
Haha that’s a tough question. I would remake the world out of pizza. Because who doesn’t like pizza?

● What is your favorite quote?
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

● What is your biggest hope for the future?
My biggest hope for the future is racism is no longer. I hope and pray that racism dies.

● How has your community helped you?
My community helped me by letting me know that it’s okay to take time and heal. They have stood behind me through this whole process. At times I feel like I need to be doing more, but I also need to heal mentally before I can move forward with work and my community is letting me know that it’s okay.

● If you could, what would you ask the man who shot you?
I wouldn’t know what to say to him or if I could forgive the man with the car–maybe I’d ask, “Why would you do that?”

● Describe your perfect day.

Wake up before sunrise, go to the beach to watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee and some good vibe music. My perfect day would also involve pancakes stacked to the sky for breakfast. My day continues with a good workout, maybe a jog.  Afternoon comes I’m watching the news and there are no killings or deaths worldwide! Basketball until after the sun goes down with all of my old teammates and friends!

Well, there you have it, folks. Dan Gregory is just your average guy with heroic tendencies, indulgent qualities, and fascinating life. He advocates for racial equality and informative discussions concerning racial injustice. Every day, he challenges himself, by asking what he can do as a human being, today, better than yesterday.

These resources consist of links to become better informed on how you can be a conscious ally to minorities: – How to be an ally for women’s rights. – How to be an ally for Black lives. – How to be an ally to the AAPI community. – How to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. – How to be an ally to the deaf community. – How to be an ally to the Muslim community. – How to be an ally to the Latino/Latinx community. – How to be an ally to the Autistic community. – How to be an ally of the Disability community.