I hear that organizers of the Friday march against police brutality handed out flyers telling people not to go to the march on Saturday. From what I understand, they told people that the families of several victims of police homicides did not want people to go because "they do not support violence." I admit I didn't see any of these flyers for myself, but enough people told me about them to make me confident that they were real.
This disturbs me.
Certainly, people have the right to feel however they feel. (Even if I believe they're wrong.) If the families of some victims did not want to be associated with the Arissa march, that's their right. They were free not to attend. Many other people whose families were effected did attend Saturday's demonstration, including a woman whose brother was shot in the back by police in 1974, as he stood with his arms in the air begging them not to kill him. Her mother still has the clothes he wore that day, stained with blood and torn through the back by bullets.
This is the world we live in.
It depresses me endlessly that people believe they have no other way to make a difference than to ingratiate themselves with the system by selling each other out. Can they really believe the cops will stop killing them, if only they prove what good people they are by kissing up to the police? Do they think the corporate media will stop telling people their sons and daughters were "merely crackheads" and deserved to be shot down if they turn on the Arissa organizers?
The fact that people would side with the police, would fall so completely into the corporate media's web of lies (even though they have never been anything but victimized by either of them), reminds me of any other abusive relationship. People become so disempowered, so beaten down, that they come to believe their only way out is to somehow appease the abuser. "If I can only please him," they think, "He will leave me alone. If I can only prove I am not his enemy."
Maybe that's why Joe Keller went to the corporate media to complain about the Saturday march. (Or maybe his words were merely taken out of context.) Maybe, even though his own son was gunned down by the cops, even though he knows his son was innocent and the police murdered him, maybe he still thinks he can make friends with the system and it will all be all right.
I don't know. All I know is I feel disgusted that people actually put their strength and energy into dissuading others from standing up to police aggression. At this time, when we can so clearly see that the police state is completely and irrevocably out of control, people turned from that battle front and instead began sabotaging the work of others who might have been allies.
People who did not agree with the Arissa organizers need not have come to Saturday's march. But they surely would have done themselves better to leave it at that, and not sell out those of us who did go. I went to the so-labeled "peaceful" demonstration, and I went to the Arissa march as well. (And incidentally, I saw no violence at either event except the ever present violence that comes with being threatened by the guns and clubs of the police.) I did not have to choose between the two, as I felt both were important expressions of the pain this city is reeling under right now and both might lead to a greater sense of community, a stronger sense of empowerment by the people. But I am left with a sense of betrayal and anger to learn that others played into the hands of the police state by helping to brand me and everyone else who went on Saturday as some lunatic fringe element who ought to be chastised and ostracized.
If the police had unleashed their pepper spray and batons on us yesterday, as they so often have before, would these people have stood by us? Would they have recognized this as part of the never-ending cycle of police violence that attempts to make victimes of us all? Or would they have nodded in acquiescence? Would they have believed we deserved it, as we have been told that Jahar perez "deserved it," that Kendra James "deserved it," that Jose Mejia Poot "deserved it." Would our presence at a radical demonstration have been "proof enough" that we do not deserve anyone's respect in the same manner that cocaine in someone's mouth is counted as "proof enough"?
Until we can stop sabotaging each other's work, until we can stop climbing over each other in vain attempts to become the police state poster children for good and virtuous citizens, until we learn who are enemies really are, there can be no change. Until we learn to watch each other's backs rather than stabbing them, nothing will change. Is that really what we want? Do we really want to just keep gathering and venting in splintered but "peaceful" marches each time another unarmed person is gunned down by cops? Or do we finally want to examine what we're doing, and what we might do differently?