All week more reports surfaced of people brutalized by police in Miami during the FTAA protests. Sometimes I’ve just sat here and cried, staring at the computer screen, another report on indymedia of injury or abuse at the hands of police forces in Miami. A woman who was sitting in prayer was shot in the back with rubber bullets. A 19 year old suffered a severe head injury when arrested and was denied medical treatment for two days (he was finally hospitalized when the judge at his arraignment saw that he was in no condition to enter a plea). At least 5 people were sexually assaulted while in police custody, and reports of torture are now being documented.
On Wednesday came word that Jordan, one of the volunteer street medics, died from meningitis. I found myself wondering if and for how long he overlooked his symptoms, or if his immune system was stretched thin from overwork, attending to dozens of people suffering from tear gas, pepper spray, and the myriad “less lethal” projectiles fired by police.
I feel guilty at times, guilty that others received much worse treatment than I did, and that there was so little I could do to help them.
Anger. The anger is hard to deal with. Anger at the police for what they did to my friends, what they did to me. Anger at the Mayor of Miami who congratulated the police, praising them for being a “model of homeland defense.” Anger at police chief John Timoney (already infamous for preemptive arrests and abuse of peaceful protesters in Philadelphia) for smugly proclaiming his forces acted with “remarkable restraint.” Anger at the mainstream media for believing Timoney’s lies, for printing distortions and half truths about what really happened, or for not reporting anything at all. Anger too at the people who engage in victim blaming (some of whom are activists themselves), who ignorantly assume that we protesters somehow deserve what happened to us, that we must have been doing something wrong for the police to respond the way they did.
I would like to end on a more hopeful note. I do also have happier emotions from this week, instances of love and laughter and peace that would make my activist work sound much more appealing and wouldn’t add to my family’s worry about my well-being. But right now I feel a need to honor these “darker” emotions and memories, welcome them even, because I am certain that they too are a source of grace and strength.