Home again after being at today’s rally at City Hall. I went out in support of the protests across the US right now calling for justice in the brazen police murder of George Floyd but also so many other police murders. If you are looking for information or a way to support have a look at the Black Disability Collective, donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund or one of the orgs they recommend. One more quick note please be aware a huge number of police murders are of disabled people and specifically of black and indigenous disabled people of color. Read up on it!!!!! Essential part of understanding disability justice!!!!
On to my report on the rally and march.
BART and bus were not crowded. I wore a cloth mask over my n95. Hit the Civic Center farmers market, got flowers and some cherries, and then was hanging on the lawn, people on the grass reading or also eating their farmers market cherries. As the rally started, I blocked the street on one side of City Hall with a few others (I’m a very effective traffic stopper). A large amount of police transport vans and white prison buses were gathered along the other end of City Hall, and I spotted a lot of cops as lookouts on top of the buildings surrounding us.There were speeches from the steps fo City Hall and then some chanting. Then I sat with this guy Hollywood as an enormous line of hundreds of cops quick-marked in lockstep across the center of the park, half splitting off to the other side and half coming to our side, where they assumed another formation half looking outward and half looking inward to the rally. They were in light vest armor with huge batons.
This group took off marching down Market Street around 3:30pm, with maybe 50 cops in front and 50-100 in back. I ran into Yoz and Mikki and marched with them a while. I went from there to Embarcadero, slowly, then back along Market where I fell in with TWO different giant multi-thousand person marches. It was a lovely afternoon and there was great goodwill through the crowds, people handing out water bottles, the chants not being pointless, had some good conversations every time I paused to hang out with another wheelchair user. People’s signs were also really sweet and touching. There is just a lot of good fellow feeling as well as shared pain, anger, fear, determination.
As I went back looking for an open BART station, Market Street was starting to be lined with cops in full riot gear. I would pause every half block or so if there was a group of them together and try to talk to them. Man what are you doing. You’re guarding this Old Navy rather than helping people in a difficult time. You don’t have to be a cop. You could get another job, you could do something better with your life, it is not too late. You’re young, you’re healthy! You can do anything with your life! You don’t have to do this, even right now. You could quit. You could join us and try to build a better world.
Well, it made me feel better, and no one beat me up for it, so. I actually felt anguish for them as they stood their in their storm trooper armor. They will beat someone tonight, they will throw tear gas or shoot rubber bullets, they’ll put out someone’s eye, either just because they’re amped up, because they think they have to defend a fucking MALL SHOP, or because they are full of hate and violence, to show off for each other how tough they are, and it will do damage to their own selves in the process, as well as to living people and to the fabric of our society. I felt a sort of motherly pain for them. I’m sorry that sounds cheesy but it’s true I felt like an old crone looking at fresh-faced evil not unable to be redeemed.
Many people took pictures of me from the sidewalk as I marched, as they were doing video or snapshots of the crowd I could see them start at the sight of me (I’m really something!!) and zero in and then just follow me trying to get the right shot of the wheelchair lady. I don’t mind, I’m representing.
Then home via BART. Take note if you are downtown that Powell and Civic Center BART are now closed, and I heard but didn’t verify that Embarcadero was closed. I am worried about the amount of people who may get trapped in downtown with riot cops ready to mix it up. It is going to be scary tonight.
Despite everyone telling me to stay safe I felt it was important for my own conscience to go out into the street and put my body and health on the line for black, indigenous, and other people of color, for their safety and freedom and health. We need to defend our communities. None of us are safe if we are not all safe.
The last few days I’ve been just donating to bail funds but that has a horrible feel of “Like Uber, but for activism” in that I stay home because it’s “not safe” for me, (risk factors of the rona, or from some fear of being disabled in a riot, and definitely the fear of being shackled ot a hospital bed which seems to be what happens to wheelchair users who are arrested) when it’s actually not safe for anyone and the whole idea I get to opt in to be “safe” while tweeting revolutionary thoughts like a vanguardist while others risk their lives and they I pay them, is too gross for me to deal with. At least get my ass out there for one day. I’m not even missing work. Over and out!