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The Police, The Mayor, and CNN
by Julie Gundacker

"It 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 "anarchism" synonymous
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 formation.
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 Dr. King?

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.

 

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