1 May 2017
“How can you say that you’re not responsible?
What does it have to do with me? What is my reaction?
What should it be—confronted by this latest atrocity?” ~Sting/The Police
“We are bound to rouse and rise
those who still endure the sham
—all of the orphans of our Uncle Sam…” ~Humanwine
Greetings on this May Day, Dear Reader. Oh, sorry, I guess it’s Loyalty Day now, isn’t it?
Please forgive the long drop in signal, but well…that’s how it is with poet’s and our blogs. Occasionally we lose hope; only to find it again in the scruffle of those around us attempting to survive…and more, to survive in Freedom.
This requires resistance.
May Day has long been a celebration of that very resistance. Some clever ogre in the Goon Squad surrounding Orange#45 must have whispered in the Jester’s ear that proclaiming May 1st as Loyalty Day would be a massive fuck you to the remaining Resistance. And that little toady was right. It pissed off a lot of people, your humble poet not the least.
Why? For those who don’t know, or would like a refresher on the history of May Day as a Worker’s Holiday, this is a good start: The Brief Origins of May Day
Today, humans around the world have taken their streets and demanded change. Some with restraint, others without restraint, or a lick of sense in some cases. What worries many of us who have stood on those front lines for decades is the level of violence being seen in engagements with counter-protesters in the US.
We all have the right to Free Speech.
It’s a different matter entirely when you go to a protest with the intent of squashing that Right, that Freedom, of another because you disagree with their ideology. That is unacceptable. And if such adrenalin-fueled clowns continue, they’ll be forced to square off with the Black Bloc. These protesters are on the front line, the Hassle Line: that fluid space where cop cadre meets the thousands marching.
Generally speaking, there are two “types” in the Black Bloc at a major protest: Older, experienced, Civil-Disobedience oriented activists of all genders and wide ideology. The other are the younger, less-experienced ones that smash windows, FSU, and are badly in need the guidance from the former. And, of course, it’s always the young hot-heads that wind up on CNN or Fox news. You never see the work and dedication of the real Black Bloc; or, for that matter, the work of the Street Medics, or the Green Hats, aka National Lawyers Guild.
These are the people who are there to help protect those thousands amassed behind them (those without helmets, or gas masks, or radios) to engage in their right to protest peacefully. On the Hassle Line, it’s not so peaceful. In addition to nightsticks, CS gas, pepper-spray, Riotcops use an array of ancient, highly-effective shield tactics for crowd control. If you come against them, you’d better come correct. Often, they will open a gap, allowing grab teams to snatch effective activists and drag them behind their lines: there to get a solid beating, zip-tied, and tossed like meat-puppets into whatever transport has been arranged.
This is only a small glimpse into what it can be like in the thick of a protest when things do go sideways.
This poem is based on a true event that occurred many years ago; an experience that I still encounter in nightmares, awaking only to relive it as memory…and the awful truth is that it could happen today, tomorrow, perhaps right now. This poem is for everyone that stands on the Line, that others might be safe.
To be honest, I am not among those that relish the coming clashes between the Black Bloc and Counter-Protesters. Frank Herbert was right, “Divide and rule. Sub-divide and rule even more powerfully. Fragment and rule absolutely.” and that is exactly the bait we gobble by venting our rage on each other. We should be building bridges between the common ground between us rather than doing their bloody work for them.
Now, back to Loyalty day: sorry, Orange#45 and Cronies, I am no bull you can wave a rag at to enrage for your own amusement. You piss me off, but I will not rent space in my head to you clowns for free.
We remember the words inscribed on the Haymarket Memorial~
“The Day Will Come When Our Silence
Will Be More Powerful Than
The Voices You Are Throttling Today”
We will not drink your kool-aid, nor any other noxious brew:
If someone wishes you a Happy Loyalty Day,
just smile and wish them a Happy May Day!
For there is no difference between the two.
a doctrine of disobedience
When you heave
me to the ground
Chain my arms
behind my back
to teach me
who is boss
I am one
What, did you think
we could ever forget?
We, who stand
before your fist—riot
that we might remain Free
There is a creature
hooves to haunch
furious and raw
from the filthy lies
A pitiful, ugly spawn
of my heart—it flowers
into a brutal blossom
as I see you, astride
a human, whipping
that nightstick down
It is as if I am chewing
on a mouthful of tinfoil
What will happen
when we have had
enough is enough
Of petty cop gods?
puffed up princes
of the billyclub
Fleeing, she caught
a teargas canister on
the back of her head
and it opened—how could you
ever think we would forget?
You were laughing
before the shooting
You stand stricken
now—between us her
choked-off scream still
You cannot hide
behind a shield
No black mask no
corrupt law passed
can undo the sight of
Her red hands seeking
will hide the evidence
You must know why
We are fighting back? Why
we are taking the streets
despite the cages
That you will lock us in?
I would rather live one day
marching free on a forbidden street
than live a lifetime in a police state
I saw you, riotcop
Through a pall of painsmoke
your face had gone sick:
Behind the gas mask
behind the shiny badge
I saw you—thinking
that this time
might have been a mistake
~23 April 17
Update: 2 May 1730hrs: Since posting this I’ve been asked by quite a few if I’m engaging in a little hyperbole for the sake of art. No harm in asking, and I don’t feel offended by the question. Sadly, if anything, I underplayed the severity of street skirmishes on the Hassle Line, where thousands protesting meets Law Enforcement. A friend sent me this video from You Tube, courtesy of Alpha Tribe Productions, and MikeHated’s channel. Included is footage from the very protest this poem was born in. The Massacre in Miami, FTAA Protest 2003. If you’re not familiar with it, please look it up. Everything changed after ‘Chief’ Timoney and his “model” effectively chilled a robust movement of non-violent Civil-Disobedient protesting in the US; they accomplished this through pre-emptive arrests, and the militarization of Law Enforcement, which has become so prevalent today. (Warning: the following video may contain PTSD triggers for some.)
3 April 2k9
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” ~George Washington
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism
or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” ~’Mahatma’ Mohandas Gandhi
In London, the G20 Summit has ended for some, but for others the misery is just beginning. No protest occurs in a vacuum, and there are always consequences…an unknown number are still jailed, legally or not; people who need help soon, or they will be eaten by their system. And there are the walking wounded who need attending, some of whom can’t even walk, along with uncounted others whose wounds are invisible to the eye, yet catastrophic nonetheless; for PTSD is common on both sides, and a typically understated byproduct of any mass-demonstration. Often it is due to the fact that, despite prayers and pleas, not all have learned to embrace Non-Violence as the only real viable protest tactic. When you resort to the methods of despots, you allow that despotism inside your heart, and thereby become yet another tyrant.
By all accounts, including some first hand, this protest was no different. If you have not been to one before, and you’re at all interested, see my post entitled Dark Hours for a quick sketch of what it can be like, here in the Good Ol’ USA. Although, it appears the UK cops used less chemical weapons this time, and were more nightstick happy. (Actually, that sounds a lot like NYC cops, now that I consider it.)
If you’re up front on the Hassle Line, or get caught in a skirmish, this can really suck. One pair of badge-bearing sociopaths once fractured my jaw after kicking me repeatedly, just to get my gas-mask and helmet off…one of them then proceeded to pound me like a steak. Unfortunately, a little nightstick goes a long way. And yes, you do see stars, but not pretty ones…just asteroidal, flashy ones, that make you want to puke, again.
Not to fear Dear Reader, for the next day—while being detained for a few hours, roughed up and down, intimately searched (while the complete contents of my possessions were photographed) without a warrant or even probable cause, and rudely interrogated without the dubious benefit of a lawyer—I took my vengeance:
During the whole tiresome ordeal, I spent the time reciting my own most subversive and seditious poetry to them…which, needless to say, pissed them off mightily. I would have gotten my ass kicked for sure, except one of them was actually a decent Police Officer. (I do recognize a difference, and it comes down to the human being inside the uniform.) As you would guess, even though I was a bit worried, there was a high ratio of my fun to their anger, and I didn’t mind showing it either. By the time the thugs were done, and the Good Cop was just plain embarrassed, we’d all agreed to a mutual, abiding, disdain for one another; and I was told to “Get the fuck out of their city.” in exactly those words. As far as those korrupt keystone kops were concerned, the word Constitution apparently has something to do with bowel movements. But, as Arlo Guthrie once lamented, That’s America…Also, I’m pretty sure they hated my poetry.
Therefore, in my continuing contempt for sadistic riotcops, who just give good police officers a brutal name. And in gratitude to the thousands who non-violently marched in London for the marginalized millions, those kept poor in the name of profit, at the G20 this year, I’m just going to leave this growling mutt of a poem right here…
Serenade for a Riot Cop
Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
Admit it, you miss the heyday of the Black Maria,
righteously flailing us to our knees.
You see your duty, doubtless,
To create Law and Order.
Why can’t you see that it is our duty
to create Justice and Peace?
It is a noble oath you take, to Protect and Serve.
But exactly what is it that you are trying to preserve?
You know this is not how it is supposed to be.
What did you suppose would happen
to our nation, our daughters and our sons,
when you applied the law with your stinking guns?
You have nothing that can ultimately stop it now
it does not matter what you do to us,
remember—Sic Semper Tyrannis: To Tyrants Ever Thus
Our aims, our desires, are not much different:
Cast aside your bloody nightstick,
the riotgun, the filthy gas.
Throw down your body armor,
the tin badge, the black mask
and step up, step out into the street
vulnerable with us, before the Fist.
Stand before the fuming others
who once were your brothers
in unnecessary arms.
Free your voice, outraged, in a defiant cacophony,
tell them you will make no more mishumanity,
that you will no longer lock people in cages for money.
Their pepperspray will be a baptism burning in your lungs.
Discover how it is to stare down the other side of the guns,
with naught but your humanity for a weapon or a shield.
Take your beating with us, learn what it takes to wield
your body, with civil disobedience as your last defense.
With us, draw a line today, understand what it takes to disobey.
Join us now in a united stance, or soon enough we will all lose the chance.
If this is truly the promised Land of the Free
then c’mon Riot Cop, tell me if you can
—why aren’t we?