They’re throwing tear gas on protesters in Oakland and shooting rubber bullets* at them. It’s getting worse, people, it’s getting worse. In some weird way, I suppose it’s a good thing? because it means that this movement is serious. People are threatened by it in some way. You don’t bring out the riot gear by people you aren’t threatened by.
On the other hand, it is terrifying that a non-violent, unarmed peaceful protest is bringing out the police state. Especially when a large scale movement filled with bile and hate and racist propaganda brought out their guns and veiled threats and no one did a damned thing about it. Cool. No problem. Just hang out there with your guns and call the President Hitler. Right on. And, right on, because the first amendment allows for the asinine signs part. The bringing guns to rallies part, not really. But they were somehow allowed that, too.
But people sitting down and sharing food with homeless people and saying they’re fed up with the system as it stands? Singing songs, banging drums, making noise, letting themselves be heard? Ah, yes, this must be squelched. And fast, because these protests, this movement, this rally cry is popping up in more and more cities and towns and avenues all over the country … and all over the world. This is gaining in momentum and this could be a real thing.
So, make it known that you have the zipties and the tear gas and the rubber bullets. Make it known that when push comes to shove, you will be pushing and shoving. Make it known that your frustration and anger and fury will be unleashed as much as it is misdirected.
But while you’re doing that, right will still be right. You will still be part of the 99%. Your pensions will still be on the line. Your jobs will still be at stake. Other parts of the city will still be crumbling and crime will still be occurring. Neighborhoods will still be wondering where you are, wondering why you are not there to serve and protect them, instead of out in the streets harassing and attacking US citizens on US soil.
Your children will still need to go to college and your grandchildren will still need to have good school systems. Your elderly neighbor will still need her medication and your mother might still need to go into a nursing home. You might still need to have surgery one day that your insurance won’t cover.
Engaging in war — actual violence and outright attacks — on the people who live in your city, on the people who shop where you shop and walk the streets you walk and who you’ve sworn to serve and protect — makes no sense. You are creating a problem where there was none. You are injecting darkness into a movement of community and solidarity and hope. You are un-democratic, you are un-American.
I hope people wake up to this. They might not want to participate in the movement. They might not even agree with what’s going on. But I hope Americans everywhere can agree that when the first amendment is called into question, we’ve got serious problems on our hands. I don’t care if you are the ever disgusting Westboro Baptist Church, Occupy Chicago or another group that’s upset about police shooting young men, abortions being performed, the CTA raising fares or the Park Hyatt turning on heat lamps on striking workers when it’s 89 degrees out. One of the wonderful, beautiful things that distinguishes us from countries we look at in horror and shame is our ability to call out when we think something is wrong, even if we happen to be pretty wrong ourselves. Not allowing a free press and free speech is fascism. And we need to be ever on guard for everyone’s right to be heard.
*They are supposed to be non-lethal, but so are tasers, and we know that’s not always the case. Not to mention, they’re still called bullets.