Mama Donít let your Babies Grow up to be Cops: Text
Reflections on the Bush Protest
I went to the Bush protest when he was in town in January. It was a cold and windy day but our passion and solidarity kept us warm. The crowd was not nearly as large or vocal or diverse as the crowd at the Bush protest on Thursday was. Maybe that's because we are finally beginning to witness the destructiveness of his reign. Maybe the collective consciousness of america is starting to emerge from the cocoon of lies that the media has spun around us. Maybe we are starting to feel personally affected by the Bush Administration. Whatever the reason that put over 2000 strong of us out on the street, our message was loud and clear: We will continue to push and push and will not budge until our voices are heard.
Pushing against a malign force is not an act of violence. It is the duty of all who claim to be patriotic citizens unified against terrorism. This terrorism, the one that we are told to fear from our Muslim brethren, from Iraqi forces, from axis's of evil, these are ugly lies that we are fed to keep us in a hype of panic and submission. While they have us obediently on our knees, we are losing our forests, our rights, our freedom, our power.
I was on the front line during a good deal of the protest, but was not witness to the outbreak of violence that transpired against some protestors. So I cannot speak to it directly. Three of my friends were victims of this violence, however. I ran into all of them at different times, after the fact, their stories were all basically the same. The cops were not provoked by "violence" from the protestors. The cops were trying to control the protestors with domineering, threatening and dangerous tactics, in an attempt to silence our collective voice of truth.
Standing between the police and the protestors enables me to hear a bit of what is being said on both sides, amongst the protestors and amongst the cops, and also what is being said to the cops.
There was the group hurling insults and shouting denigrating silly little things such as "hey, do ya'll eat bananas, monkeys like bananas", a comment that resulted in a banana peel being tossed at the cops a few minutes later.
And then there was a group that told jokes in order to get the cops to change their deadpan expressions. I found this pretty amusing, especially when one of the cops started grinning and the jesters started gleefully shouting, "He smiled, he smiled!"
There was one guy who kept asking a couple of cops questions, such as "How come yesterday I could stand on that street corner over there (pointing towards the Hilton) and today I can't." And, "what would happen if I just went around this barricade and started running up the street?" His questions went unanswered, the cops remained transfixed in stoicism. But when the guy starting talking to one of the cops about good taverns to go to, the cop came out of his daze and started muttering to him a bit. Very interesting...
I heard a number of protestors asking the cops if they were real or if they were robots. A young woman stood looking through the face shield of a female riot cop asking her if she was a machine. I noticed that the eyes of the cop had the same blueness, the same quality as that of the young inquiring woman.
And the other group, the group that I suspect incites the cops the most, is the group who yells out things about Bush being a murdering idiotic fool, as are the cops who are there to protect and defend him.
I wonder how many of these cops are pro-Bush, how many of them are aware of what he and his buddies are up to, if they know that they too are in danger, and that (at present) they are only separated from us by a hairsbreadth by way of an erected blockade.
But I am even more curious as to why cops become cops. Most of us who have had dealings with them say that it is because they crave control and power over others, that likely it is a way for them to feel bigger, better about themselves and their own lack of personal power. It just seems like a sadistic profession to choose to go into when one of the job requirements is to use force and if "necessary" to kill another human being.
We often align cops and soldiers because they basically have the same set of job requirements. There is a good deal of brainwashing that goes on with both professions. Young boys (and girls) are told that it is about "honor". I've heard that many adolescents eagerly signed up for the military post September 11 to fight against terrorism, seduced by the promise of honor and bravery.
I remember when my son was about eight years old he asked his father to take him to a boy scout meeting at his school. While the scout masters were selling the other parents the program, my son's father was thumbing through a copy of (I think it was called) "Boy's Life", a rag that 'The Boy Scouts of America' endorses and advises their young scouts to subscribe to. Appalled to find it filled with ad after ad of military propaganda, he said that it was an organization that he could not stand behind. (This is a person who starved himself for 16 days after his number came up in the Vietnam lottery) I think that this sort of vigilance makes a difference because my son refused to sign up for selective services when he turned 18. Unfortunately, he was forced to a few years later in order to get financial aid for school.
While at the protest, I had a few interesting visions. When the cops first arrived on the scene, they managed to divide and separate us at the corner of SW Madison and Sixth. The used their bodies and bicycles to barricade us (apparently not quite prepared to deal with the large number of us) while another group of cops in riot gear, on horses, and riding four-wheelers dashed down the street towards the Hilton.
And then in a really strange move the cops who were barricading us turned and started scurrying down the street to join the other cops. That left thousands of us rushing against a few dozen of them. The moment was surreal, perhaps giving rise to my vision. Suddenly protestors were shoulder to shoulder with police, all of us moving like a mighty current surging down the street.
Now if ever there was an ideal time for protestors to turn on police, this would've been it. And it did not happen. I saw no evidence of anything remotely violent on the part of the protestors, but I did sense fear in the cops. As I said there were a few thousand of us and a few dozen of them - running alongside their bicycles, dressed in their regular street uniforms - anxious to get out of the crowd. It was while in the midst of this moment that I could have sworn that I saw one of the cops holding a sign.
Later, on a different street corner, (the protest was spread out around the perimeter of the Hilton) I was sitting on an orange fence that was housing a sculpture. This afforded me a pretty good vantage point of the protesting crowd and the guarding police. After sitting there for a spell, talking to fellow protestors and taking pictures, I saw a man in a suit get out of a car. Walking towards a group of policeman and assorted agents while adjusting his neck tie, I had the weird feeling that he was there to ask this group of cops what our demands were!
These two visions, silly as they may sound, may be likely scenarios at some distant point in the future. I can't help but think that the cops that are shielded in riot gear are not shielded from our message. They cannot be so dense to think that we are misguided misfits looking for a pepper spray parade. They have enough sense and gut level instinct to know that we have real and legitimate claims. And I think that part of their violent behavior is their fear rising, their defenses coiling.
If we continue to pour out into the streets in the thousands, and if thousands grows to tens of thousands, and then swells into millions, and if we refuse to be silenced or gassed into submission, then there will come a day that someone will need to start asking us what our demands are. It is up to us to help foster these visions into reality, so that we can reclaim our lives, save the earth and free our brothers and sisters in faraway lands.
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