31 March 2k9
…I pushed my soul in a deep, dark hole, and then I followed it in.
I watched myself crawling out, as I was crawling in.
I got up so tight, I couldn’t unwind. I saw so much, I broke my mind.
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in…
~Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
Seems my condition is not too good right now. One of my teeth decided to go nuclear on my ass, which also means I’ve had an 8/10 headache for six days…needless to say I’m ready to tear my skin off, or maybe this time I really will roll out onto Ingra St. with a red cape and a big can o’ whup-ass, (dumb-ass) There’s time for that later…first a journal entry
Tom Waits croaked a prophetic dirge in The Earth Died Screaming:
“…There was thunder, there was lightning; and then the stars went out.
And the moon fell from the sky, it rained mackerel, it rained trout.
And a great big wrath is comin’.
And here’s mud in the Big Red Eye.
And the poker is in the fire.
And the locusts take the sky…”
However melodramatic it may sound, this could be a scene right out of any one of my frequent nightmares. (read as every godforsaken time I sleep).
“Yeah, yeah,” you say, “Everyone has nightmares, besides we all know you are one fucked up individual, Dawn.” I won’t argue with any of that. And, knowing I’m definitely not alone when it comes to nightmares, I really don’t feel all that special in this. Combined with my insomnia it makes for some very interesting nights.
I’ve had them since I was a kid, at some point whenever I sleep, and they are vivid as hell, the price of an active imagination doctors tell me; regardless, they feel absolutely real when I am having them. And, honestly? They scare me speechless…often I can’t even scream when I wake up wallowing in your average cold sweat, with an icepick-headache. I’ll bet my neighbors appreciate it, because once in a while a scream does get out and it’s not a pretty sound…
What are my nightmares like? I’ve tried to explain them to many a friend and doctor, and it’s easier to shove a half-melted marshmallow up a Bobcat’s ass then it is to make sense of the freakshow in my head. And after all, we’re not here for therapy. Which makes me wonder, yet again, exactly why I’m doing this? Well, I’m a writer, so…I write, even when I’m wrong…very wrong. I have no idea why you are here, Dear Reader, but you have my thanks for your tenacity.
Last night I dreamt of a protest back in Miami, and of my friend Badger, whom I haven’t seen in years. I dreamt of the night when he caught a teargas can in the face and lost an eye. It was brutal. The Miami-Dade cops, and the Alphabet Boys, were actually taking the time to headhunt in the local Emergency Rooms; it’s not hard to identify their thuggish handiwork, and they were arresting “People Of Interest” in whatever condition they found them. Of course, they allowed treatment until doctors signed off that they were ambulatory, then they were transferred to whatever jail infirmary the police deemed necessary, if at all. Obviously, once the word got out on that crap, folks started avoiding the ER, which put a heavy burden on our Angels of Mercy: the Miami Street Medics. Heroes one and all. They were out in force, despite the beating the cops would sick on them if they got caught.
Badger made it back to the Convergence Space, which by Thursday night was effectively under siege. The only reason they didn’t shut us down, was that it kept us in one spot, so they thought, and made surveillance easier. (At the height of the protest we estimated, via a running logbook, that there was some form of cop car, using various methods of surveillance, every three minutes or so, cruising around the building. Justifiable overtime?)
As they did throughout the entire two weeks of the FTAA Fascist Circus, feds and cops scoured the surrounding blocks of the Convergence Space: checking IDs, being asshole bullies to anyone they even remotely suspected was a protester, detaining without cause, arresting on shaky grounds…you know, your basic Police State. If you made it through the gauntlet, and truthfully it wasn’t all that hard to do, you could get in through the Bob-bitchin’ 12ft. high rolling gate we had at this space, that was kept locked as often as possible. This allowed us to have some control on undercover swine getting in. And it allowed us to triage the gassed and peppersprayed, before entering the space. You really don’t want that crap going around a crowd, it’s worse than herpes, and just as painful some say.
Luckily, there was also a row of media vans parked out front, spotlights and all, which helped us in that the cops didn’t look so good tackling folks trying to get into safety. PR has its place after all…
When Badger, who is among the toughest and most giving humans I’ve met, made it in…he was, in his own words “well and truly fucked up”. The canister had hit him dead on and his eye was a toxic, bloody mess. The medics did the best they could, but he needed to be in a hospital, and there was no chance of that happening.
The last thing his right eye saw was a riot cop pointing a grenade launcher at him. Now it sees nothing, because it is glass. It could have been any of us there, but it was him. An excellent activist in his prime. A dedicated supporter of Human Rights, and in my mind a champion…nothing less.
There were many such stories that came out of those days in Miami as we protested the FTAA. Beyond Badger’s wounding, I witnessed awful things. For a week, beginning that Thursday night (after a day long, running fight in the streets) I ended up as head of internal security for the Convergence Space. I pulled the duty because their entire security roster had been arrested during that day, and I had some experience, along with years of non-violence training. They needed help, and many stepped up to keep the Space safe. How I ended up with the reigns, I’ll never really know, but there’s not a lot of bossing that is accepted in a consensus driven structure anyway. Basically, I’d volunteered to be the main Donut, or the person who gets fed to the cops first. And I very nearly got swallowed whole a number of times. The Miami-Dade police, and the plainclothes Alphabet Boys had been let off their leash. I have rarely seen such brutality. As soon as the cameras were pointed away they let their viciousness reign. Those who were caught up in the above mentioned Gauntlet were often beaten severely whether they actually resisted arrest or went limp, and all were charged accordingly, of course.
One afternoon during that week of hell we were treated to the surreal sight of a hundred or so MDPD on bikes. They rode in circle around the building housing our Convergence Space and commenced to shouting racial slurs, personal comments about our hygiene & ugly inquires about our dubious family ties. It was far and away the most disgraceful behavior I have had the misfortune to have to sit through. We kept everyone inside the barricade, and battened down all possible entries for chemical weapons, tear gas, etc. Sitting back we egged them on a bit, just to get as much video footage of the spectacle as possible. I once again nearly got gobbled up, but escaped only through pure luck. Happily, there were many, many experienced activists right behind me who were just as capable, though maybe not quite as devious, even they admitted. (Much to my gratitude. I remember each of you, and love you still. Miami Convergence Security kicked righteous ass.)
So where’s the specific nightmare in all of this?
Well, it was the look in Badger’s remaining eye, peering out from beside a bandage. It was deep night; by the light of halogen headlamps, a few of us were smoking and shooting the shit. Badger looked like half-defrosted Hell. Though he sounded as ferocious and righteous as ever. Still, I recognized the onset of PTSD and saw that his trail to healing would be long, if at all. Throughout the Space, the rest of us were in fairly crappy shape as well: little to no sleep for days, all of us gassed thrice over, most with a few nightstick licks.
Yet, after the years, it is that thousand-yard gaze in Badger’s one eye that stays with me as much as any of the atrocity in metrocity. It was not a look of defeat. But rather that of a stunned survivor, who hasn’t surrendered, regardless of the damage done. It was in that moment that I tasted the first ashes of real doubt. If our movement allows this to continue happening to people who shine as bright as Badger, then what real good can ever come of it?
Believe me when I tell you that, as one who has put civil-disobedience over my own self-preservation a few times, the idea that it may come to no good in the end is truly a nightmare.
In my heart I do not waver, I still do not believe that any act of speaking Truth to injustice is wholly useless; whether you write a Senator or President, march and wave a sign, or lock down and get tortured; we need all of the above to continue creating change.
That’s why it is among my nightmares, but upon waking I always eventually remember—
No such deed is ever truly forgotten.
There is no street, cemetery, police station, or court-there is no place where humans gather in this land where outrage loses its breath.
31 Mar. 2k9
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