You challenged me on Twitter. You told me that Occupy was dead and why should you care about some guy being tortured by the Police in Maine–it’s not your government.
Given that we live in a country where part of our civil war was based on the fact that some states were engaging in inappropriate activity and other states decided to stop them… I can’t imagine not feeling like part of the United States. Maine matters to me like California matters to other people.
Do you think that everyone else in the country watched the Rodney King riots and thought, “Good thing it isn’t my government doing this to someone.” Whoa. I can’t understand that thought. The militarization of the domestic police force is of enormous national concern. It quite literally keeps me up at night. How the police act in one city influences how they feel it acceptable to act in all other cities.
I have been thinking for days about how to talk about this subject. I have a strong tendency towards tl;dr so I’ve been struggling to find a pithy argument. It is quite frustrating that someone on the internet argues with me and demands a counter argument but I can’t count on someone to read more than three or four hundred words. That’s not an argument it is an exchange of theme songs.
For me, not caring about the police in Maine is like someone in Germany not caring about the first few train loads of Jews being abducted. I understand that I just lost this argument based on Godwin’s law. I spend my life living as if I am one of the first ones called. I can’t afford to think that the first few groups of people the police harass are acceptable collateral damage. My life won’t let me think of any situation like that.
I have had extremely damaging run-ins with police in my life. White trash whores are not really respected by local police forces–they decided who and what I was before I hit puberty. They were not interested in protecting me from rape or sexual assault from childhood. I live enmeshed in rape culture in a way that very few people can understand because very few people have more rapists than fingers.
I believe that a boy being tortured by the police in Maine matters because I have to believe that I would matter in his place. That it wouldn’t be ok for them to do it to me. I live in a time and a place where I can not have the hubris of saying, “Oh it wouldn’t happen to me so it is ok that they do it to someone else.” If they were going to do it to someone they just might do it to me. It wouldn’t be the first time I have had my rights taken away and I’ve been strapped down by government forces.
I understand that my life experiences are unique and unusual. My opinion intensified by one hundred after having children.
My then three year old marched with the Port Shutdown in Oakland. She remembers Occupy. We talk about it. I was one of the first people at the General Strike port shut down. I watched the thousands of people stream into the port. I watched what happens when people say, “It doesn’t matter that you say this doesn’t effect me and I should shut up–I have a voice and you can not silence me.”
I hear that Occupy is dead. I do not believe this. I believe that Occupy lives in the heart of every person who will not be silenced. This summer I will be painting a mural on a neighborhood fence because some kids keep putting graffiti on it. The elderly lady who owns the property is not up to maintaining a fence free of graffiti. I’m going to use neighborhood children to help me paint.
Occupy is not just about living in tents and existing to annoy city hall. Occupy is about seeing something in your community and trying to fix it. Maybe I would feel less personally connected to the boy in Portland Maine if I had not just mapped out how I would drive there a week before seeing this video clip. I was specifically planning on going to that city. In my country. In my car with my kids. How could I not feel like what happens to him matters to me?
Why should you care? I haven’t been able to figure out how to convince you. I ask that you be polite about my belief. I should get angry when the government tortures people because it is wrong. That is just how the world should work in my head. Ok, that’s as pithy as I can manage. You see why I didn’t respond on Twitter.