Trigger up: flash-bang burrito

12/13/2011

Trigger warning for police violence, riot porn, etc. Take care of yourself! -RD

it’s been a year of radical firsts. first convergence, first proximity to chemical weapons, first arrest, first mass mobilization.

they just do it to scare you and keep you off the streets. the flash-bangs, the tear gas, the pepperspray. temporary disability (not being able to see, breathe unlaboriously, or hear) is terrifying, particularly when those symptoms are a departure from your normal.

it’s terrifying but if we remain calm and keep our wits about us, just steady ourselves and help eachother…it seems doable. we’ll get thru this, come out on the other side. i’ll see you in the streets again (like i have before), your face milky white-stained and your eyes big and red, but still smiling. there’s a war on but there’s a grim humor here, too. boner jokes and boot dances make the time pass more quickly, keep us warm, too.

*****

the burrito brigade passes, around and around, insistently kind. “burrito? another burrito?” it is good to feel cared for. good to give care, take care.

for some people police weapons are extremely triggering, and it is for them that i most want to be here. a gentle voice, a calm hand. do you want us to walk you out of here? okay, let’s do that. what do you need? anybody thirsty?

a lot of medics like to be where the overt action is, the noisy chaos and crush. sometimes i can do that, but more often than not i can’t, and my level of training/prior trauma baggage (so easily triggerable) make it more appropriate that i keep out of the fray. i’m most interested in preventative care and/or the networking of people-places-resources (as i do in my daily life), anyways. have you eaten today? would you like some water? hey, we have hats and gloves, who needs some? how about a ride home for your shivering’n’traumatized pal? have you seen this person’s buddy? some people get addicted to the adrenaline rush of trauma medicine, but i’m more addicted to graciousness and gratitude. sometimes the receipt, but what also so much i love being able to thank other people for their goodness, their kindnesses. eating my humble pie a mouthfull at a time.

there are still confrontations, of course, tho they are often of a different sort (fewer nightsticks and longer sentences, but i still shake for days afterwards). full-body blocking the camera: you can’t take a picture of this person without their consent, and they can’t consent until they can breathe without sputtering again. “oh?” yes, thank you so much for your understanding. i smile ingratiatingly from under my bandanna (make sure your eyes wrinkle nice, i think) and reach out my hand, the photographer takes it, we make introductions. wish we were meeting under better circumstances, you can call me ____. another would-be photographer is not so gracious, but the subject of the photos hollers consent (thank you) and i bug out gladly.

*****

“Wisdom” I view through an anarchist lens: what dismantles hierarchy and oppression, what redistributes and builds power in the hands of those with the least of it, what equalizes and empowers. There’s a lot of forgiveness in my personal understanding of ‘right action’ for doing the best one can, recognizing structural limits, and acknowledging complexity, unknowns, lack of or multiple right answers. But the definition stands on choice, that knowledge that at some point we can choose our reactions to the circumstances in which we’re placed. Courage is only one value of many. There may be a courageous act one chooses not to do for important, valid reasons. That’s ok. But its important that we acknowledge our choices.

The key thing I try to internalize is the principle that standing against oppression– yours or in solidarity with someone else– is more courageous than dangerous, brave shit that reinforces it.

*****
so. guess i’m trying to eke out some sort of synthesis between the flash-bangs and the burritos. just decompressing, y’know?

-RD

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