The Police, The Mayor, and CNN
by Julie Gundacker
is not solely a matter of trigger-happy cops, of brutal cops who
love to crack black heads. Mostly it's a job to them. It pays
good. And there are numerous fringe benefits. The real problem
is the trigger-happy social order." --Eldridge Cleaver, 1968
I was wearing my glasses, standing on a raised curb and peering
directly into the crowd when it happened-so why didn't I see those
violent anarchists we were all warned about throwing their painted
plastic shields at the police? I did see the fully armored police
storm into the crowd swinging clubs and spraying noxious chemicals,
but Police Commissioner Kelly said that people were throwing plastic
shields before the officers charged.
Maybe; but I was watching, and I didn't see it. (Perhaps the issue
would be settled if the authorities would release some of those
many hours of videotape that I watched them take of the peacefully
assembled crowd in contravention of New York (city?) law. Unless
I just imagined that too.) Does anyone care except me?
New Yorkers, watch where you're walking. Avoid making eye contact
with the gays, the junkies and the bums. The police, the mayor,
and CNN promise it will enhance your quality of life. Someday,
the citizens will finally pay to have such human trash removed
altogether, and cost be damned. Until then, just avert your gaze
towards the billboards and skyscrapers. Focus on the shiny lights
above the panhandler's head.
The police, the mayor, and CNN would like you to know that only
the presence of thousands of cops in full body armor prevented
the demonstrations against the WEF from turning into a melee of
violence and destruction. Maybe; but the ridiculously protracted
parade route took thousands of protesters by several poorly guarded
symbols of corporate malfeasance, and not one window was smashed,
not one Starbucks employee assaulted. Had confrontation been the
goal, the protesters easily could have started a riot with the
rows of glaring police. Abhorrence of needless devastation, not
fear of arrest, is what made the demonstrations peaceful. And
even peacefulness and obedience to the law could get you arrested.
I know; I was there, and it happened to me.
New Yorkers, be patient. The police, the mayor, and CNN have promised
a cop on every corner (guarding the GAP on every corner and shooing
the kids off every corner?) and consequently a better life for
us all. The police will protect our communities, for it is community
that has made America great! (But not the junkies, the trannies,
the immigrants, the bums, the queers, the poor, the black and
brown, who after all are not what made America great.)
The police, the mayor, and CNN would also like to warn you about
the anarchists, hateful creatures hell-bent on starting riots,
eating kittens, and committing other unspeakable deeds. Maybe;
but the anarchists I have known display a loving and optimistic
faith in the human capacity for cooperation, and a tendency towards
vegan living which would make kitten consumption out of the question.
I have seen anarchists shelter and nurture strangers, create elaborate
art, and protect others by throwing themselves in front of police
batons. That some anarchists, among other people, selectively
damage property or retaliate against physical force hardly makes
with "wanton violence and utter disregard for human life,"
despite the tone of the police, the politicians, and the news.
But if it's not the anarchists stirring up all this trouble, then
the police, the mayor, and CNN might have to explain why so many
people are outraged and desperate enough to take their grievances
to the streets and face those blank-eyed officers in their menacing
The police, the mayor, and CNN would really rather you didn't
examine the actual motives, ideas, grievances, and tactics of
the dissenters too closely. The information is out there, of course,
but you're going to have to go looking for it, and why on earth
would you want to do that? Do you like watching the hookers and
dope fiends on your street corners? Do you make eye contact with
bums? Don't you want quality of life?
Radicals are worthless because of their violence; radicals who
aren't violent are invisible. And the disappointed media shelves
their rhetoric for another day.
What other stories are being ignored because they don't fit neatly
into the official telling? Why do we privilege state-sanctioned
accounts of reality as if the police press releases were objective
reports instead of biased post-facto justifications of potentially
shady acts? Do you know what the newspapers used to write about
I saw it with my own eyes: blows falling on the bodies of peaceful
dissenters; small, unarmed people, surrounded and swallowed up
by a black and blue mob; liquid fire sprayed into their faces,
and it's hard to believe, but I swear I saw it, and the whole
time they kept singing. And it's hard to believe, but when peaceful
people were screaming in pain, the police looked away and let
them suffer. They say they're here to protect and serve, but I
know they don't mean everyone, because I saw them push a kid and
call him "faggot." I saw them harass the homeless man
who was hungry and tired and cold. I saw them lock the paddy-wagon
door on a woman in pain. They looked at her distress for a moment,
and then they slammed the door on the image of her suffering.
A woman in pain is not a threat.
An addict is not an animal.
A protester is not a terrorist.