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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Monday, July 26, 2004

“I’m here to protect people!”

Today I go with my friends to a dnc opening day party/rally/gathering in their neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. The strategy of the dnc protest organizers is to have many smaller demonstrations and actions in individual neighborhoods rather than at the ‘protest pen’. Besides the fact that the pen is an outrageous affront to us, our liberties, and who the hell wants to be penned up to speak, I understand the city has decided to give very few permits to march. Dennis Kucinich is scheduled to speak, along with other local folks, music is planned and spoken word, food and organizational tables as well. I set up a little CodePINK booth with the progressive democrats who were gracious enuff to share their table with me!
The park is very nice, not too big – we’re on a grassy knoll and the ‘stage’ is at the bottom of a slope allowing for folks to sit on the grass and get a great view too! About two hundred people are here, reflecting the diversity of Jamaica Plain. A giant spinal cord is also here, held high over about 20 people’s heads, winding around through the crowd: some of those brilliant creative artist types have created this huge spine, about 40’ long, urging the democrats to “Get a Spine!!!”
A small march is planned from the park to the house a few blocks away where the delegates from Tennessee are being housed. We have to march on the sidewalk – the police allege we will block too much traffic on the street – yet a police car follows the end of the marchers down the narrow Boston streets successfully blocking traffic! As we approach the house we are all disappointed to hear the police have hustled the delegates off to ‘safety’, depriving them of our spinal boost! A helicopter appears overhead as one of the organizers informs us over a loud speaker that the delegates have left so we will follow the spine back to the park.
As we re-approach the park, we are stunned to see about twenty-five state police motorcycles have lined up against the edge of the park, the officers standing at attention just right of the shiny chrome handle bars. Across the street, pulled up onto the sidewalks are many unmarked police cars and several marked Boston city police cars. All of the sudden, there are almost more police than demonstrators.
The march veers off over the T steps (the Boston BART) and around the building to avoid confronting the police. We enter the park around another ‘unguarded’ corner. A group of us separate ourselves from the march to stand between the street and the corner to loudly applaud the marchers and provide a buffer in case the police decide to approach this entrance.
After everyone is safely back inside the park without incident, a few of us approach the police to ask them why they were here. One trooper – these were state troopers on motorcycles –  glared at me and snarled loudly: “Why are you here?”
I passed myself off as a Jamaica Plainer and said “This is my neighborhood, I’m at a neighborhood party.”
He smoothly declared he was here for the same reason. I asked him to join us then but he balked demanding to know “Why are you having a party?”
“To promote democracy.” Of course he claimed he was too.
“How are you promoting democracy?” I query leaning in closer.
“I’m here to protect people,” he leers broadly.
“Oh you’re here to protect me and my democratically endowed first amendment right of free speech?”
Suddenly he refused to speak anymore, staring at some blank space over my shoulder. There were now two helicopters circling noisily overhead, along with the multitude of police.
We basically ignored them and continued staffing the tables as folks milled around – I talked with lots of womyn re:CodePINK and got a few to sign-up!
In retrospect, I think we (especially CodePINK) should begin speaking with police, making them real to us and us to them. As long as they can stand there, facing us down, they are too ‘other’, as we are to them. Maybe we can come up with a script, speaking points, etc…?