I started feeling really panicked when I heard big noises going off. The violence and tumultous coralling I saw downtown yesterday was enough to make me doubt my esophagus' viability - if I'd had food in my stomach I would have thrown up when I saw the fighting that broke out between 7th and 8th streets and Clay.
I have the feeling now that "if you didn't get teargassed, you weren't there", but - wimpy as it is - I didn't stay to get teargassed with my friends. When I started hearing the canisters burst and seeing people running, I bolted to BART, though I had to go two blocks farther north to get to an open station entrance. I was already late to meet my friend Jeff in the city to see our friend's band play at the Rickshaw Stop.
The show was good. I've been bopping to Van's tunes since I was fifteen and he was playing at Painted Sky, and they always inspire some stomping and yelling along with the chorus. Waters rocks harder than Port O'Brien - I got to headbang with my little bit of hair that's growing last night - but the highlight of the show was definitely the Port O'Brien standard Pigeon Hold, which was totally appropriate for the time and place.
Jeff and I were preoccupied the whole time, though, by the images and footage of cops in full riot gear tear-gassing our friends and neighbors coming in via text messages and Twitter feed.
Yesterday people who work downtown were advised not to go to work, though by the time I got down there in the late afternoon there were plenty of people in cafes, including spectators inside Starbucks watching the march from the library - where the occupation reconvened after being kicked out of Frank Ogawa Plaza - go by. I was watiting for the moment when the Starbucks windows got smashed, but it didn't happen.
Like hopeful zombies, people kept marching on and on and on, around and around and around in a snake march that kept either sidestepping or just plain overwhelming the corral of hundreds of police brought in from around the state working overtime, armed with a $700,000 sound cannon, teargassing the shit out of civilians and firing rubber bullets in response to? or provoking the shooting of paintballs. The scary thing was not knowing where it was okay - legal? safe? - to be, and where was not.
All the while, I'm considering, What is the goal of this protest?
It's to retake the plaza in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.
I'm considering, Why retake the plaza? Why the plaza and not somewhere else?
They raided Snow Park, too.
I'm considering who it was who decided it was that plaza that would be occupied in the first place.
I'm remembering that it was the result of a series of community meetings.
I'm considering and remembering these things while experiencing the cognitive dissonance that ensues when you go from an actively resisting space to a tranquil triumph of capitalism, i.e. while sitting down to steaming fish and chicken tacos in the Mission with Jeff. The salty tortilla chips and seven kinds of salsa calmed some of the churning in my stomach that had been building since I first saw the cops in riot gear getting off the bus at 14th and Broadway and increased exponentially when I saw the garbage collectors en masse at Frank Ogawa - renamed for the purposes of the occupation Oscar Grant - Plaza doing the dirty work of cleaning up the wreckages of the destroyed tent city, but didn't resolve the sense that I should not have left my city. Sucks to be part of the 99%. Sucks to be a cop. But how sweet to be on the receiving end of one of last night's token chants, You're sexy! You're cute! Take off your riot suit!
When I post my photos, I want to say, This is what a police state looks like, but I am afraid to offend any governing bodies.
In China, "occupy" is now a banned search term.
Which is really what this whole uprising is against, when it boils down to it.
All forthcoming decisions regarding the occupation have been, and continue to be, made by a general assembly. Anyone can attend and everyone is welcome. The next one convenes this evening at 6 PM at 14th and Broadway.