Friday, October 7, 2011

Police the Police, Protest the Protest

It was hot. It was cold. The swell of bodies heated the sloping hill of California Street as their crush ambled back toward the Financial District with their fists in the air and their voices ringing through the high-rise corridors of concrete and glass, “We are the 99 percent!” Gawkers sat in office and apartment windows several stories up, pressing their heads against the glass. Some stayed inconspicuously at the margins of their portals, holding their elbows and keeping from total visibility. Others leaned out, sleeves rolled and ties flapping in the cold and misty breeze as they waved and shouted in solidarity. A man on a megaphone cried out a complicated rhyme that the crowd mumbled before abandoning. Police on motorcycles and dirt bikes met the protestors at every predetermined intersection, blocking traffic so the crowd of several hundred people could pass without incident. It was very ordered, rehearsed.

B
ack at the Federal Reserve building of San Francisco, I set off in the direction of my apartment, conflicted by the thoughts and emotions wrestling for governance over my head and heart. On one hand, I was overjoyed to have seen so many people marching and shouting in common discontent. Despondency is a lonely tower and to see dozens of furrowed brows and frowning roars was ironic medicine for my proverbial soul. On the other hand, I was unsatisfied with the complacency of the event. Isn’t a protest a time to rouse the rabble? It’s time for the barbarism of fire hoses, batons, and snarling dogs. “You went down there looking for trouble,” a coworker declared as I voiced my frustration the next day. I suppose I did. Mind you, hurting person or property is not what I hope for, but respectfully moving ten feet off the property of the Federal Reserve Bank in order to appease city ordinance is not my idea of civil disobedience.

There’s a peacefully aggressive mindset of these protests across the country that I am clearly and unfortunately not a part of, however fascinated. I don’t understand this compliant form of dissent that requires patience and resiliency without swinging fists. My hot-headedness blinds me to the larger prize and I want confrontation NOW! I want the police to police, police, police so that the public will see how when questioned, authority adjusts its helmet and taps its bludgeon on its steel-toed boots in defense of not law or order but money; and not just in New York City, where JP Morgan Chase donated over four million dollars to the NYPD as the police force commandeered city buses and arrested over 700 peaceful protestors for unlawfully marching on the Brooklyn bridge (after being diverted there by the police), but on the West Coast, too. The SFPD didn’t disappoint. In fact, their actions later that night proved just as calculating as their New York City counterparts. There was no disorderly conduct at 12:45am when riot police returned and dismantled the protestors’ makeshift camp then blocked off and guarded the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve so they couldn’t return.

Who were they defending? Those cops go home and watch the same shitty reality TV as half the plebeians of the day’s march, yet when called to action, they rush to the aid, compelled by profession or ideology, of their invisible oppressors and become biting teeth for the greediest humans in the world.

I read that several of the San Francisco police officers openly wept as they followed their orders. Perhaps that’s a start. Perhaps once the police are on our side, we can take their goddamned guns away and redirect their attention to the real criminals, whose weight we carry around as though they are living gods, for tiny laws are in place to arrest every single one of them in much the same way such laws were invoked to disassemble and demoralize a peaceful protest still in its infancy.

I don’t have an answer to any of this, but at least I set down my coffee, snapped my laptop closed, and pocketed my phone for a few hours to see what I could see. Today, I’m returning to the bedside of this discontent to once again feel the weak pulse of our feeble democracy before it slips away.


2 comments:

f8hasit said...

Well writen Carlos. You should actually submit this to the local paper for publishing.

And if YOU don't, I will.
OR I'll come outthere to SanFran with my firehose and start some chaos in your neighborhood. :-)

C. Andres Alderete said...

Thank you for your willingness to cause destruction for me, Nancy :)

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