Illusions of peacefulness
I thought I was going to post about something more peaceful today, but tonight there was a large rally in support of Black Lives Matter, led by a number of young people I admire and respect. I was concerned for them because it appeared to me that the police were ramping up toward unusual violence tonight. There were surveillance helicopters in the sky from about 6 p.m. I could hear and see them. There were photos on Facebook of so-called "Homeland Security" vehicles cruising neighborhoods. Even now, at midnight, I hear sirens and helicopters.
I was watching on several Livestreams as the police declared the marchers "an unlawful assembly," and began firing "tear gas" (a toxic powder called CS that impairs respiration, forbidden internationally). Soon after the police began firing tear gas, they announced on loudspeaker that they had declared the gathering a "riot," which justifed bringing out carloads of riot police and even more military gear. One by one, the Livestreams went down as police targeted citizen journalists, attacked them with batons, gassed them, broke their equipment, and handcuffed and arrested one journalist I know, according to a friend of ours who posted from the scene. Another journalist whose work I admire was shot in the head by a tear gas canister. He posted a few minutes ago, saying he is OK, whatever that means. I guess it means his skull wasn't fractured. I hope he's really OK.
I wonder if we're already involved in an undeclared civil war. That's what it feels like. In this war, only one side has military equipment. In this war, all the action happens after dark, and in the daytime we go on as if our lives were relatively normal, given the pandemic.
I feel cowardly staying safely at home, watching the mayhem on a computer screen as if it were an action movie. People I know are being harmed. I know I couldn't do anything to help them if I were out there; I can't run as I see them running. I would be in the way, a liability rather than an asset to the struggle. But I find myself writing these words and feeling as if I've entered the realm of nightmare.