A police officer snarled at me tonite if I didn’t want to get hurt
(by police) I should stay at home. Really. He said that to me. Then he ordered
me to go home.
3 maybe 4000 strong we were tonite in Oakland standing
against the police/military industrial complex including the injustice system. Tomorrow
4pm Oscar Grant Plaza we’ll be four thousand and TWO if you and your dearest friend
The protesters were amazing: fiercely determined, the righteous
energy sparkling brighter than the lights shimmering around Lake Merritt, on
point, and buckling down for the long haul. Everyone was out and represented
tonite from Black people, brown people, First Nation people, Asian people,
white people, young people, people with masks and people with children; people
on bikes and some with canes & walkers; people carrying lots of “END RACISM
NOW” signs, and Mike Brown and Ferguson banners.
And of course the police: heavily armed, mean reddish
bloated faces, anger spewing off them as heavily as if they were carrying in
nickels the tons of money they were being paid to be following us around – and hurting
We marched from Oscar Grant Plaza, thru downtown around Lake
Merritt and up onto the Lake Shore on & off ramps of 580 first by Trader
Joes, then on the lake side, and the third wave – which I was in – went up on
the Grand Ave off-ramp and onto the freeway. Traffic was stopped in both
And the anger of the police multiplied and blanketed us like
dozens of cockroaches hatching their 10,000 eggs each scurrying for the garbage
can. They began lining up 3 deep and across the length of the road, pushing us
off the freeway. Pushing and batting people – like me – with their billy clubs.
I couldn’t believe the hate and vitriolic hostility grinding
thru their clenched teeth and crunched menacing eyes. The front line of short cops
including two almost sexless women, small but swollen wide with gear, were batting
at me with billy clubs, grinding their teeth, throwing their heads forward with
each blow, when a particularly livid taller white cop from the second row
reached over them and tried to grab hold of my megaphone. Then his buddy
squished shoulder to shoulder, was inspired
to also reach over their front line trying to punch me in the face, missing as I
duck but knocking my hat off, my glasses tumbling down my face onto my
I had to momentarily relinquish my megaphone to grab my
glasses – why did I wear them? What was I thinking, I wanted to be able to see –
shit, I almost lost them. Another cop grabbed at my cloth bag I had over my
other shoulder – my bag with my water bottle and, yes, my cell phone. I swiftly
rescued my glasses while trying to hold onto my bag and grab back the
megaphone, but I lost that battle and my things disappeared faster than arctic
I couldn’t believe the cops who couldn’t get a purchase on
their sticks to cause much damage were then punching and slapping instead. They
seemed to grow in number and ferocity but suddenly I was encircled by tall guys
who grabbed me, wedging their bodies between me & the line of cops, yelling
in the cops faces: “she’s a old womon, leave her alone”.
Geez, I had forgot I was an old womon but I certainly was
ready to accept the help of 4 or 5 pairs of strong arms that pushed me out of harm’s
way, and then hoisted me over the barrier and to safety on the other side of
The barrier stopped the cops & I got to challenge them
to take off their weapons and face me unarmed. I engaged in an enraged one
womon monologue with them, shaming them, questioning their morality, searching
for their humanity.
And empty fruitless search – at least tonite. Maybe when they’re
alone and quiet, my words will bubble up in them and wipe the grime off their
consciousness like windshield wipers on filthy glass.
We began marching back down the ramp and onto Grand Ave, and
then up to Telegraph and finally back to Oscar Grant Plaza – and the cop who ordered
On the BART, two white womyn dressed in their Sunday best covered
with sparkly jewelry and lovely coiffed hairdos that fly around with carefully
styled freedom, are sitting several seats away from but facing me and the rest
of the passengers. First they’re taking selfies and I hope they don’t ask me to
take their photo.
They don’t ask that but do aim the camera at the rest of us
and coyly suggest we smile. I get to loudly say “we’re not smiling: a murderer
went free tonite, we pissed”.
They didn’t understand at first until I said remember the
white man who shot a youth in cold blood. Their smiles disappeared in unison
and they said resignedly how awful, what a terrible night I was having. Me, I
was having…none of it!
I got to state very loudly it was actually a great night, as
thousands of us were in the streets, blocking traffic, shutting down the
freeway, protesting this travesty of our country. Several passengers cheered
I continued, my voice carrying over the rumble of the
tracks, how we HAVE to stop the police, disarm them, unmilitarize them as I gave
witness to the brutality of the police tonite.
The two women with their now even longer worried faces
leaned forward and shook their heads in unison as if they were watching a
I asked people if they really liked their lives, the way we
are living. Several people agreed saying no, and we DO need to change. I left
at my stop with telling people 4:00pm tomorrow at Oscar Grant Plaza.
My arm is aching, I rub pushing my sleeve up and suddenly notice
the police have ripped off the cuff of my shirtsleeve. Now is that really
necessary? What will they think tonite when they lay down in the quiet darkness
and safety of their own beds, maybe in the arms of another human being, my
shirt’s cuff clenched in their cruel beefy fists. What could they possibly
think about beating on an old womon who will probably wake up tomorrow with
more bruises and aches & pains my adrenaline is masking.
But at least I will wake up tomorrow, unlike Michael Brown.
Nor the little 12 year old boy today, playing with a toy gun
in a Cleveland park, shot by police in his soft youthful belly, never to be
able to work on his 6 pack or adjust the notches of his belt as he grows.