Editor’s note: trigger warning for George Floyd’s death, content warning for police brutality and the current protests
This week I watched George Floyd be murdered by police on camera for the crime of being black in America. I have watched thousands of people have the exact same reaction as me and take to the streets. I have watched police brutally attack protesters over and over again. I have watched people express their anger and pain with graffiti and fires. I’ve watched disenfranchised people take the opportunity to exercise a little distribution of wealth here and there. I have watched media spin masters claim that “looting and rioting” (their words) are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd. He fought for every last breath. He fought while three police officers slowly and sadistically murdered him. He managed to stay alive for six minutes in the face of racist state sanctioned violence.
The protest has lasted seven days and I have struggled to have something useful to say when all I feel is the same outrage and sorrow plain on the faces of every protester on TV.
In response to the mass demand for an immediate end to police racism and violence, #45 has declared martial law. His answer to police brutality is more police brutality. I feel scared and alone and desperate for something, anything I can do when all I can do is sit in my steel cage and pray for the safety of my loved ones out there in the world. I am certain many of them are out in the protests, like I would be if I was not here in prison. I haven’t heard from most of them since this began, no JPay messages and I’ve only managed to get two people on the phone. I don’t know if they’ve been arrested or or hurt or killed or what.
The one thing I do know is that the joke of “Hail Emperor Trump” when he spouts his authoritarian BS, is not funny any more because it has become all too true.
My cellie keeps telling me that being critical of #45 is pointless because doing so feeds into the bipartisan system. The assumption being that if “other guys” were in power this wouldn’t be happening. They’re correct. The system itself is broken and the system is designed to perpetuate and preserve itself at the cost of the oppressed people within it. This dies not change the fact that the things #45 says scares me. It does not matter if a Democrat or a Republican is in office because messed up harmful things will be ordered by them and when people speak out against it they will be told to be “peaceful protesters.” Meaning they can’t be too loud, or have a message that is too direct, or ask for anything that constitutes real systemic change, and they have to go home as soon as the powers that be get tired of hearing their complaints. People with power say “peaceful” but they mean “docile.” I see it every day in prison. In the mouth of a DOC employee the words “good,” “respectful,” “helpful,” “compliant,” “reformed,” and even “releasable” all actually mean “docile” when spoken in reference to an incarcerated person. This is what’s happening here. The protesters are not docile therefore they must be bad, evil, looters, rioters, and anarchists. Well, many of them are anarchists, but they are not bad and certainly not evil.
A couple days ago protesters confronted police in the foyer of the CNN building. At one point a man in the front hurt his hand while slamming his skateboard into the glass wall separating them from the police. So another person stepped forward, cleaned the cut, and bandaged his hand. This is what an anti-fascist anarchist action looks like. Each person seeks to meet the needs of others as best they can in a way which increases everyone’s ability to live their lives in a way which foes not cause harm to others.
All of the protesters are standing together to say the harms being perpetrated against communities of color, and specifically Black communities, is wrong. Having an institution of people who walk around with guns and physically beat people into submission in the name of anything is wrong, having them do so in the name of “peace” is simply insane.
Back in high school, we had a joke. It went like this:
Person A: “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity!”
Person B: “Don’t worry, I’ll fuck for you’re virginity any day!”
And this is what’s happening. We don’t need more cops and we certainly don’t need soldiers. They’re the problem and if they are deployed in the way #45 wants to then… I don’t even want to think about the level of violence which will be visited on protesters and communities of color who find themselves declared “terrorists” for the crime of demanding their measure of human dignity.
And all I can do is watch and pray.