Many people in the jiu-jitsu community have been speaking up in support of the Black community as protests have happened around the world. Among the supporters of the Black Lives Matter message is Jordan Peitzman, who runs the Sub Spectrum grappling promotion.
Peitzman started getting active in the protests in his local city of Des Moine, Iowa after seeing negative reporting from the media on the “primarily peaceful protests” happening in his town.
“I half-jokingly said to my friend that sat next to me on the couch, ‘I could literally provide better coverage than all of these professional news outlets,'” said Peitzman. “They’re too scared to get in the middle of the action. Additionally they are failing the people of our city and our state by choosing to report only on the rioting and looting, pushing a narrative of hate, separation, and destruction.”
The following day, Peitzman joined the marches himself and live-streamed the entire event, showing both the perspective from within the crowd and moments like the local police removing their riot gear and having conversations with the protesters. “Officers were having genuine face to face interactions and listening to the stories, voices, and demands of protesters. I was the only ‘news’ there capturing these interactions. Not a single mainstream media camera in sight,” said Peitzman. “Word started making its way around the internet, and throughout the night we hijacked almost 40,000 viewers from the local news station live feeds that chose to focus on a much smaller and more hostile group outside the state capital instead of the beautiful interactions happening between officers and protestors outside the police station.”
Peitzman realized the impact that he could have with an audience that large, and so he shared his Venmo address (@Jordan-Peitzman) and promised all donations would go to the NAACP. His decision to do so was solidified by what happened hours later. “Later that night, I joined the group at the capitol, which ultimately resulted in tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets being deployed. To no surprise, the local news waited to go live until the very moment crowd control was deployed. They stood there and watched as protesters were gassed, flash banged, and chased around the capitol like farm animals. That spoke volumes about the story they were trying to tell,” he said.
Still, there was a silver lining: Peitzman was able to get $347.10 raised for the NAACP on that very first night of trying to fundraise for the organization. So he kept going. Since then, he’s been following the local marches, which he says have been “100% peaceful and positive.”
“Every night the movement has become larger, more positive, more peaceful, and more organized. The leadership has grown and the young people of my state are marching together, becoming more and more educated on how to assemble effectively in order to bring about change. Honestly, just such a beautiful thing to be a part of.”
Peitzman is also working to find businesses that will match donations to further increase the donations coming in from his coverage of the marches. He says that particular effort is “heavily inspired” by Iowa State Cyclones fan Carson King, who held up a sign saying “Busch Light supple needs replenished” with his Venmo address during an ESPN College Gameday broadcast. King went on to raise almost $3 million for the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
For all the good that Peitzman is doing, though, not everyone is a fan of his efforts. He says that the march on Thursday night focused on “a particular individual” described by Peitzman as a “general POS” who owns a few bars and restaurants in the area.
“He had made claims that have protesters showed up at his businesses he would go ‘live ammo’ on them. So we showed up with 2,000 and occupied the street outside his most popular bar to chant and bring awareness to his terrible behavior and practices. Four of his bartenders quit on the spot and joined the march along with most of the patrons. My stream got picked up by a popular Twitch multi-stream where they broadcast nine cities at once so over 150,000 people across the world we’re watching live for that moment,” said Peitzman. “I told everybody to go leave bad reviews on his bars and restaurants and he had over 100 1-star reviews within an hour.”
Then, on Friday, the FBI showed up.
Peitzman wasn’t home, but the agents who showed up at the door spoke to his brother. “They said they had received a claim that I was a member of Antifa and was threatening people’s lives and businesses. My brother said, ‘That’s ridiculous, everything he pushes is about positivity and unity. Check his streams. The only negative thing he did was tell people to leave bad reviews on a business.’ At that point, the two agents looked at each other and realized what happened, handed him their card, and said I didn’t need to contact them, but could if I wanted to,” said Peitzman.
The promoter says his work isn’t done yet, but his efforts have already raised a very impressive $4,347.10 (backed up with screenshots), broken down as:
$1,750.00 – NAACP Des Moines
$1,250.00 (+$1000 2 private donors) – Urban Dreams
$347.10 – NAACP
He thanked those who had donated so far and shared what his plans for the immediate future entail:
“What a week it’s been. I can’t thank you all enough for contributing. When I pinned my Venmo link to the screen on Tuesday, I thought maybe we’d raise $100 or something. Never would have imagined we could donate $4,347.10 in the course of a week. We’re gonna be switching gears a little bit as we continue. I plan to provide aid and donations directly to people in need. It’s important to me to know exactly where our dollars are going. I will keep you all updated on whatever I decide to do moving forward.Again, thank you all so much. you are all so beautiful and I love you.”
While there’s plenty of negativity both in the BJJ community and beyond related to current events, it’s refreshing to see someone in the grappling world making a difference for a better future.