Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Giving thanks - and protesting.

Noel is coming down for Thanksgiving, and bringing his cat Linus, who will meet our new second cat Lulu for the first time. That should be interesting.

I have jury duty on Thanksgiving week, and then will be in Washington DC for several days for a national safe schools roundtable meeting - and to see some friends there.

I wonder if I will need to serve on jury duty. They may not want me if the case I would hear would be related to arrests of anti-war protesters made this week at the port of Olympia.

Alec and I went to the public meeting at city hall on Sunday night and heard horror stories from so many people who were pepper sprayed, shoved with police night sticks, beaten and thrown in ditches and then arrested (although many were not read their rights).

Thank you to TJ, our city councilperson, for assisting in making the space available - and thank you to all who were there and spoke so eloquently in protest to the port of Olympia being used by the military in any connection to the illegal and immoral war our country is waging in Iraq. Your testimonies were heartbreaking. Many of you spoke of trying to block the trucks from unloading their war transport to Fort Lewis, with a firm commitment to non-violent action. Many of you said you knew you might be arrested for this, but you rightfully didn’t expect to be brutalized.

As one commentator at the Olympian website pointed out, people who are violent and who destroy property should be prosecuted – because they are breaking the law. But protestors who peacefully protest and use civil disobedience to block a road should NEVER be assaulted like this.

The police are our servants, and are sworn to protect us and uphold the law, not assault people! Now some of them have used excessive force and I am APPALLED by their actions. From what I heard Sunday, the police are behaving as violent bully hooligans, and those officers should be criminally charged for those acts. The way they have conducted themselves is shameful. Apparently the police department has an internal review process. Who will hold our law enforcement officers accountable?

These police are being encouraged to act even more aggressively by people there who are protesting the protesters, and by some awful comments in the Olympian, our daily newspaper. Responses to their coverage have included some of the most vicious, malicious and vitriolic letters I have read in a long time. One person even suggested that the protesters be sent to Israel where he or she suggested they know how to treat them, mentioning bulldozers, suggesting that they be run over as was our own dear Rachel Corrie (who was obviously referred to although they did not name her) who was killed in 2003 when she was crushed by a bulldozer on the Gaza Strip.

These responses are shocking as they encourage police brutality.

I don’t hate police. But I do hate the behavior of some, and I call on those police who are not okay with the acts of fellow officers to stand up and do something about it.

On Sunday night I offered free debriefing/counseling/support to the protesters who have been traumatized, and on Monday I sent some resources to friends who are involved so they can share them with folks who are dealing with being assaulted and traumatized by the police.

There is some excellent information online. Activist Trauma Support - based in the UK - is an excellent resource for political activists who may be injured during traumatic experiences associated with their political activities and who might be struggling with mental health issues related to activism - such as post-traumatic stress or burnout.

Some of their documents are:

How to cope with being attacked by the police and other assailants which is also available as a pdf document here (PDF format - 2 large format pages)

Activist trauma and recovery (PDF format - 2 large format pages)

Sustainable Activism & Avoiding Burnout (PDF format - 2 large format pages)

Why We Think This Is Important…

and lots more of their excellent documents here.

Read Police Use Excessive Force in Opening up OLY Port

and read about Police brutality on Wikipedia.


Somehow it seems connected when today SF Gate columnist Mark Morford started his column with:

I know how it is. You've had it up to here. There are only so many stories about blood and death and pain you can take, only so many times you can hear about random shootings and corporate malfeasance and how BushCo's squad of scabrous flying monkeys have, say, supported torture or endorsed wiretapping or gouged the nation for another $200 billion to pay for a failed war. Your nerves are raw and your heart is tired and the media will just not shut the hell up already about the sadness and the war and the mayhem and the Cheney and the doom doom doom.

It is outrage fatigue, and it is epidemic. It's that feeling that we are being hammered unlike any time in recent history with so many appalling and disgusting and violently un-American incidents and scandals and manipulations that our b.s.-detectors are smoking like an old V-8 engine on a hot summer's day and it's all we can do to get up every day without screaming.
and ended with:
Smart, informed outrage engages you and fires your heart, your mind. It is fuel. It is the reason you claim you enjoy being an American, to question malevolent government actions and take a stand and demand accountability where there has, for the past seven years, been none. Bottom line: We simply cannot let them convince us, by way of an all-out assault on science, sex, love, et al, that the good fight just ain't worth fighting.

After all, the flying monkeys are far from done raiding the closet and stealing your babies and making a mockery of everything wise and calm and open-hearted people hold dear. And baby, if you ain't outraged about that, something is very wrong indeed.
Read the whole column: Outrage fatigue? Get over it



And from Orca Books in Olympia: Beyond Bullets / Our Enemies in Blue

57 women (and three men) arrested last night at the Port protests. Why? DISSENT. By whom? POLICE. Our author event Friday?

Jules Boykoff
Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States.

Kristian Williams
Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.

Come feel the relevance. 7 pm this Friday.
Orca Books
509 E 4th Ave, Olympia, Washington 98501
(360) 352-0123
http://www.orcabooks.com

No comments: