This is more of a stump than a full post, but it’s late and I’ve been distracted all day. I’ve been finishing my current draft of Barium Deep, hoping to have it done before the end of January.
I want to submit it.
Hell, I want to change the world. Sometimes, very, very occasionally, I’m confident enough to think that I might have a chance to do that with the stories I share.
But I was set to thinking, earlier, when I spoke with someone about the news that we’d each seen that day. She’d seen news footage cutting back and forth between the inauguration parade and protestors, news about people breaking windows and even (apparently) setting a car on fire in front of the Washington Post offices. I saw a video of police pepper spraying an elderly woman and a disabled man, along with the people who were trying to shield them and move them away from the police.
What are the narratives our news sources are giving us? Why?
And I keep coming back to this: what the fuck were those officers thinking, spraying people who obviously are mobility impaired, spraying the people who are trying to help them move, spraying fucking everyone in that group?
I’ve never worked as a police officer. But I have worked security, dealing with people who didn’t really want to do what I wanted them to do (leave a place, quietly, by following me through a crowded area). I got more cooperation, nearly 100% cooperation, with calm requests and occasional assistance than I ever could have gotten by enforcing, imposing my will on the people I was dealing with. There was never a scene. I was, to the best of my ability, helpful.
My experience is not their experience. The situation I was dealing with was not the situation that they were dealing with. And I can’t help but think that maybe, if they’d treated their situation a little differently, it would have *been* different. Fundamentally different. Those police officers might have had a chance to serve and protect people, instead of punish, harm, and endanger them.
I’m not sure what it takes to make someone think that pepper spraying the mobility impaired is a good way to make them move. I’m not sure what it takes to convince them to do that instead of anything more sane. Fear, maybe. A deep and abiding unawareness of other options. Maybe (I always hope not, and always fear it is so) pleasure in the exercise of power over others. Especially the state-legitimated non-consensual exercise of power over others.
We’ve had enough of that.
On a semi-related note, read Mattias’ piece MLK Is Not Your Black Friend. It’s good. It deserves your attention.