As a child in the 1970's, I was frequently brought to political events by my father. I've seen every president since Nixon speak publicly, with the exception of George II, since he has not made any openly public appearances since inauguration.
My parents wanted me to grow up to be politically aware. I want the same for my children. But things have changed over the past 30 years. It is no longer possible to determine how safe a political event may be. Even in 1971, it was okay to think, "The President's in town. Let's go down and let him know what we think." While there were many, many violent skirmishes between the public and police in those days, a peaceful demonstration against the President was rather easy to predict.
As we saw here in Portland on Thursday, this is no longer the case. This POTUS is more paranoid than any in memory, even Nixon, and local police are even more ready to incite a riot where no violence previously existed. This serves as both a "lesson" for anyone else who might want to speak up, and as another baton for the Right, who respond to the opposition with, "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" like playground bullies.
How long are we going to put up with this oppression? How bad will it have to get? What are we going to have to do to reclaim our nation and the Bill of Rights?
We must stop the bullies the same way we had to stop them in second grade; stand up to them. Don't stay home (but do leave the kids there). Take up every opportunity to protest what bugs you with the status quo. Keep it peaceful, but be prepared for the police to start another riot. Bring cameras, recorders and notebooks. Stay alert, and take notes so you can readily refute the spins and outright lies of the Powers That Be when they claim that "you started it." Send your after-action reviews to Indymedia (and other online resources), newspapers, mass media, and government representatives at all levels.
Don't let the bullies win. This time there's more at risk than a bloody nose.
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