Seven tries to avoid the protests, but many streets are blocked off by the police. When his car runs out of gas on an unfamiliar street, the group gets out to walk to a gas station. As they walk, Starr points out to Chris her old apartment building and the Taco Bell she used visit with her family. Chris says maybe they can go to Taco Bell together someday, which makes DeVante laugh. Chris says he wants Starr to know he will go anywhere with her, no matter what neighborhood it’s in.
Despite all its problems, Garden Heights still holds many happy memories for Starr. Though she feared being herself in front of Chris, sharing this part of her world with him has strengthened their relationship.
DeVante clutches his side, and Seven asks if King kicked him with his boots. Seven notes that he did that to Iesha once, breaking her ribs. The group again hears police telling people to get off the streets, and realize that they have reached the street where Khalil was shot. People there are chanting “a hairbrush is not a gun.” This is Starr’s first time at the street since the shooting, and she sees the whole scene play out in front of her eyes again.
King grows even more villainous through the revelation that he used boots on both a teenage boy and Iesha. Starr’s arrival at the place of Khalil’s death is traumatic but, importantly, does not stop her from protesting. The hairbrush has become a symbol of Khalil’s innocence as well as the unfair criminalization of black communities.
April Ofrah’s voice on a bullhorn snaps Starr out of her daze. She is leading the hairbrush chant as the police continue to tell people to disperse. The chant echoes all around them, and Chris, Seven, and DeVante join in. Starr eventually does too, screaming as loud as she can and putting her fist high in the air.
The hairbrush chant reaffirms the power of language, as it energizes and inspires the group to join in. Starr’s raised fist reflects the common symbol for black power.
Ms. Ofrah steps down and approaches Starr, who begs her not to tell Lisa she was at the riots. Starr says she had only been talking and joined because she wanted to do something. Ms. Ofrah says that talking is doing something, and reminds Starr that her voice is her most powerful weapon.
The novel once again affirms the power of language to create change, and that Starr does not need to riot to be a part of the fight for justice.
Ms. Ofrah then tells Starr to fire her, so that what she does next are the actions of an activist rather than Starr’s attorney. Ms. Ofrah leads Starr through the crowd towards a police car and hands her a bullhorn, which Starr notes is “heavy as a gun.” Starr climbs atop the patrol car, and the crowd cheers for her to “speak.” Starr says she is the one who saw what happened to Khalil, and that she wants the world to know that his life mattered. She turns to the cops and begins a chant of “Khalil lived.”
The comparison between the bullhorn and a gun asserts the weight of Starr’s voice in this moment. Standing on the same street where Khalil died, Starr is no longer afraid and finally fully embraces her power to demand justice. The focus on Khalil’s life, rather than death, further reflects the ethos of Black Lives Matter.
Police throw tear gas at the protestors. Starr volleys it back and even more chaos erupts as everyone scatters. Starr manages to find Seven, Chris, and DeVante through the stampede, but they are all being choked by thick white smoke. They spot a gray pickup truck barreling toward them and realize it is Goon. He stops and tells Starr and her friends to climb into the back of the truck. Also in the truck are other protestors, along with a man Starr recognizes as a national news anchor with a cameraman. Starr can’t stop coughing from the tear gas.
Starr throwing the tear gas will later become an important symbol of the protests. Thomas describes the debilitating effects of tear gas in detail, suggesting the cruelty of its use by police. The presence of a national news anchor in the truck reveals how Khalil’s story has caught the attention of the entire country.
Goon drives through the neighborhood, which is thick with smoke, flames, and tanks. Many businesses have been ransacked, except those with “black owned” spray-painted across the front. They arrive at Maverick’s store, and Starr gives Goon the keys. Goons directs everyone inside and starts grabbing jugs of milk from the fridge. Everyone pours it on their faces to ease the pain of the tear gas. Goon asks to grab a bottle for protestors still on the streets, and says Maverick is looking for them. He and the reporter then get back in the truck, leaving Starr, Seven, Chris, and DeVante alone in the store.
A gangbanger once again proves himself to be so much more than stereotypes would suggest, as Goon becomes the savior of many choking protestors. The fact that he knows about the milk cure suggests he has been subjected to tear gas before.
Starr checks her phone, and has a lot of worried and angry voicemails from Lisa, who says she saw her throwing tear gas on TV. Just as Starr and her friends are getting up to leave the store, someone throws a glass bottle with a flaming cloth through the door. The store goes up in flames.
The chapter ends on a note of suspense as the group is trapped in the store. It is not yet clear if the fire was started by rioters or was a targeted attack.