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

trigger warning for police violence. take care of yourself! -RD

after the protest, for days i kept circling on them. the cops, the missteps i made. losing my shit. getting hurt (again). helping other people who were hurt. so much yelling. masks. the army of the rich. glossy BMWs. REI-clad yuppies telling me that cops are “a part of the 99%”. if cops are a part of us, then aren’t they the worst part? that darkest impulse of cruelty and fear, of selfishness. masked tools of capitalism, control freaks jeering from behind badges, batons, rubber bullets, pepper spray. i was tired, in pain, irritated to still be on high alert and a little dehydrated, adrenaline almost washed out. where were you when they were pepperspraying people in the face?! cops are not your friends, not part of the 99%, they are the enemy, tools of capitalism. i yelled, probably sounding foolish in my exhaustion, the kind of insurrectionary absolutism i usually find distasteful blooming bright from my mouth. and: fuck you, why don’t you go buy your way out of another problem! (fuck you for misgendering me so resolutely, for being so naive, for being so stout in your privileged blindness, standing on a street corner and trying to shout down my rage as somehow irrelevant to your ‘movement’.) have you noticed that ‘movement’ sounds like taking a shit? well, i have. stop expecting cohesion, this shit is gonna splatter.

i am angry. i could tell you a dozen ‘bad cop/bad cop’ stories and i don’t think you’d get it, still. the cops are not your friends. you can make nice-nice with them early on if you must (and can–tho i won’t, i will not/can not), but when it comes to it, they will take you out when the order comes to roll. bowl you over with a line of their amped up city bikes, pepperspray you in the face, baton you to the abdomen and all those precious organs. have no doubt: cops are like pitbulls, trained bears in kevlar suits, you may think you know them but you don’t. do not trust them, do not expect them tame for they are wild. do not make a fool of yourself, do not put yourself and everyone around you at risk by making such a fatal mistake. please please. please please. i would beg you if i thought it would make a difference, bring you somehow closer to understanding why i draw up this division.

***
when i started medicking, i had not been hit with the cluebat yet. i just thought “oh, i’d just like some more skills to help take care of my communities (places where i already provide care),” and took to it with little thought beyond honing existing skills, acquiring a few new ones, drawing new connections between people i liked and respected. it certainly never occurred to me that i would grow a new political analysis or be exposed to state-sanctioned violence (trauma both personal and secondary), anarchism coming into focus sharply and involuntarily as a horn growing out my forehead. my naivety could have scalded you with its white-hot ridiculousness. i laugh at it now shameless but shamed: i can only go the speed at which i travel, and it took all the places i’ve been to get me here, now.

but then: how could i not have known, after all i’d seen, even then? ACAB, all cops are bastards, the black bloc roars, whinnying on proud hind legs, masks up against identification because they know that the cops come after those who dare to criticize them openly, to call for abolition rather than political pandering, reform. will this keep us sane, these simple messages, these simple actions in the face of something so broken it can not be fixed? sometimes people tell me that it works for them, and i can not argue that. if you must, you must. hold the banner, march the streets, yell the simplest things, keep getting in the same arguments with liberals.

i’m not really the insurrectionary type, i tell __ over the last of our pitcher. i’m more about building bridges than smashing windows. but those moments where we break with the everyday still burn bright in me, the shattering of glass i built, i would never… but i have started asking the hard questions, starting thinking maybe, in a world without police, without landlords…

***

that’s all i got, the big-scary what-ifs and wonderings. so what’s up, insurrectionary anarchism, i been thinkin’ about yoooouuu. and i have come to no conclusions but questions.

Hey reader! This post is about police violence, rape culture, and the international phenomenon of the Slutwalk. I consider this subject matter to be fairly triggering, so please take care of yourself and click away as needed. Consensual Xs and Ohs! -RD

Despite many misgivings, I decided to attend the Slutwalk in my city. Slutwalk started in response to a Toronto cop who in a fit of classic victim-blaming, told a group of students that if women didn’t want to get raped, “[they] should stop dressing like sluts.” It’s exciting that large-scale feminist demonstrations like this one are happening in my city. But I was utterly dismayed as I walked up to the initial rally not only to find a massive faction of cops rambling around, but also to overhear folks affirming the choice of the organizers to have cops present.

There were lots of sharp, insightful signs, but there were also questionable signs that enforced hierarchies of privilege. For the purposes of documentation, I tried to photograph signs moreso than any individual people or faces.  Being able to appear at any public protest (particularly this one) without fear of repercussions from one’s employer, religious community, family, partner(s), etc, is a privilege, and I didn’t want to diminish that for anyone, although there were copious other photographers present, most of whom appeared to be male and photographing people indiscriminately.

After the march we convened for a second rally. While there, I was a party to the following:

A skinny young white woman (let’s call her Pink Flamingo, or PF, okay?) is walking briskly after an older heavyset man in a green sweater (let’s call him Rat Bastard, or RB, okay?), calling out after RB “delete that picture! delete that picture! delete that picture!” PF blocks his path, “delete that picture. Please delete that picture.”

RB responds “No,” and tries to keep walking and to enter a store. One of my comrades and I follow, comrade calmly says something to the effect of “what’s going on here?”. PF tries to block RB’s path again and RB grabs her as PF says “I just want you to delete that picture.”

“Hey! keep your hands OFF OF HER!” I yell. I was upset before, but now I’m absolutely fucking livid.

An employee of the store keeps saying “this is a business, this is a business,” and another employee is getting a cop from just outside the doors. Everything happens so fast, and I am shaking, worried that PF will be arrested, or all of us.

The cops separate everyone out and talk to RB and PF. I can’t here what they’re saying to PF, but I do hear what the pig is saying to RB: “If they’re in public, you can take a picture of whoever you want.”

I wish I could think in words when I’m mad, but I can’t. If I could, I would have yelled this is what rape culture is, pig! This is why we’re here! The appearance of one’s body in public is not consent.

But this is not an isolated instance. Cops enforce rape culture every day. It’s more visible when they enforce rape culture on young, white cis-gendered people, but just as sinister (or even moreso) is the effect of police violence and rape culture on people who are marginalized by mainstream pro-cop, pro-state, pro-PIC organizing.

Some tuff bitches said:

It is not enough to ask for reform from a system that disappears people through the construction of borders and jails, while affirming cultural values about rape, gender, race and straightness. The only people who should be in the business of articulating and setting boundaries for how they experience their bodies are people themselves, NOT the State, NOT the police, and certainly not industries hellbent on manifesting insecurities that keep us tied to mythical protectors. Instead, let us consider other ways of affirming our own agency and dismantling the apparatus of the State and all of its constituents.

As anarchists, we want the extinction of police and prison culture. As survivors, we want to set the boundaries for how and when we fight back against sexual violence.