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Protesting the Police

Occupy DC Takes it in the Ass Again?

By Jehovah Jones

Thursday’s protest was different: This one was specifically about the police, who raided McPherson Square again, almost two months after the first betrayal, and tore down the information booth and meeting tent, where they seemed to think people were sleeping. (Truth be told, some probably were. It’s more comfortable to sleep on the ground in a tent than on the hard sidewalk a few feet away, which is by some moronic twist of logic, allowed.)

And the Occupiers took to the streets with vengeance in their hearts…or maybe more accurately, in their mouths.

Chanting couplets ranging from pointed but civil —

“From Oakland to Greece, disarm the police.”

— to some apparently designed to insult and enrage:

“This is a donut. It is delicious. You know you want to fuckin’ eat it.”

— while bearing makeshift fishing poles dangling chocolate donuts as bait, they headed out from the park that had been their home from Oct 1 to Feb 4, and took a circuitous route through the city, stopping to block every large intersection.

At each, the sign-wielding pack of about 40-45 people took three loops around, chanting, waving signs, propelled by anger and Mo the Palestinian’s pounding drum, disrupting traffic for as long as possible. When the DC cops, half a dozen motorcycles, 3-4 cars, several SUVs and at least two horses, didn’t charge in and arrest them, but rather blocked traffic for them, the marchers kicked it up a notch, reviving a chant from the Occupy Congress event in January —

“No justice, no peace, No bitch-ass police.”

as well as one coined at the Monsanto protest on February 29 —

“Show me what a donut looks like. This is what a donut looks like.”

and added a brand-new personal jab for good measure —

“You say people shouldn’t sleep. We say ‘Fuck Sgt. Reid.’ ”

— apparently in response to comments made to the media by Todd Reid of the Park Police, the cop who was in charge during the day’s tent detail at McPherson, and who was Tanked in the ‘nads way back in the good old sleep-over days.

The two cops on horseback seemed to be having fun, at least at first, teasing a protestor on a bike videotaping the march about his parents’ income. “What are you doing out here? Your mom and dad are millionaires! Hey, did you know this guy’s parents are millionaires? That means he’s one of the One Percent!” the cops taunted.

But it all seemed to be in good fun until an irate motorist at one of the intersections began blowing his horn at the marchers blocking his turn. The protestors seemed ready to let him pass until he stuck his head out the window and screamed obscenities at them, threatening to ‘flatten your fucking slacker asses,” and then they sat placidly in the road, daring him to follow through. One protestor danced around, inches from the car’s grill, whirling and chanting.

That was too much for the Lone Ranger and Robin, mounted high upon the Clydesdale-esque Steeds of Power. They trotted up and began bellowing orders, insisting that the kids had touched the man’s car, threatening all manner of sanctions. “Harassing citizens! Way to go!” Robin snarled, or the closest approximation thereof, which came out as more of a simper.

“No one touched the car, sir,” the guy on the bike affirmed. “I have the video right here.”

Others were less conciliatory. “If you think we did something wrong, fuckin’ arrest us, porkchop.”

A woman took up a new chant — “Get those animals off those horses.” — and it made a few rounds before being discarded in favor of the old NWA standby: “Fuck tha police.”

One guy paraded through the intersection and up to the horses with his sign: “Go fuck yourself, officer.”

But Andy and Barney weren’t biting, so the protestors turned their attention to the passerby.

“Give us our rights, we’ll give you your streets.”

“Join us. It’s your first amendment too.”

One sign took a backhanded stab at reassurance: “Don’t worry, everything’s fine. Go home and watch American Idol.”

While some people in the cars seemed angry, just as many honked in support, shooting the thumbs up, and shouting encouragement. “Keep it up! You’re doing great!” a cabbie yelled, and a middle-aged woman rolled down the window to get the specifics of the Occupiers’s grievance against the cops. “They took everything I own! “ one man told her. “I was doing what they said, to be in compliance with the law, and they ripped down my tent anyway and stole it all. That shit don’t fly.” The woman grimaced and suggested a lawsuit. “Yep, I’m gonna sue their balls off,” he said.

A young woman in a car honked her horn, long, loud, and waved energetically. “You people are very brave. You’re the hope of the future!” she yelled. At Dupont Circle, a 30ish black couple sat in their German touring car, adrift in stalled traffic, cops, and protestors, smiling hugely, windows open exchanging handshakes and pleasantries with the protestors. A man with a strong accent  talked excitedly on his cell. “It’s Occupoy DC! I saw them on TV. They marching, baby! This is so fuckin’ cool. You guys rock!”

Finally after 90 minutes, the throng headed back to McPherson with no arrests. A final three-pronged swing through the intersections by the park finally won them a warning from the cops, and newly energized, some took off again for more. But a significant number dropped off at McPherson, some chatting with the lone arrestee from the morning’s raid, a women called Georgia wearing a cast, with a tiny dog on a leash.

The dog, apparently affected by the vibrations in the air, mounted another dog and got busy.

“Stop that, Daisy” the woman scolded. “That’s not how it works.”

“She’s a girl,” she explained.

But Daisy wasn’t letting the lack of a penis stand in her way, continuing to hump madly.

The other dog seemed confused as to what was being accomplished.

Photos by The Lucie

Originally posted on CoolRevolution.net, March 31, 2012

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“I love the smell of Roundup in the morning.”

Occupy pays a Leap Day visit to Monsanto and ALEC

by Jehovah Jones

Feb 29: Occupy DC’s Leap Day actions started at the butt-crack of dawn.

Ok, maybe 7am doesn’t precisely qualify as time’s anus, but it’s right next door. And Occupiers aren’t known for liking to get up early. Back in the good ol’ before-February-5 days when I used to crawl out of my tent at McPherson around 5am to go to work, the few hardy souls I bumped into seemed less than completely alert, partly due to the neocon agitators honking horns ’til the wee hours.

Everybody’s milling around drinking coffee, and because this is Occupy, there’s a woman with a Domino’s box.

Cinnamon bread sticks, maybe.

No… it’s pizza.

Note to self: Tell that woman why Domino’s should be the target of a boycott.

And stop salivating.

We’re about 50 strong now, maybe 60. It’s too early for accurate counting. Three U.S. Park Service cops, including an older guy who’s always here, seems mostly decent. Somebody says he’s the one who got Tank’s foot in the ‘nads back in December. Seems pretty calm and easy, chats with any and all of us, doesn’t seem angry or vindictive. The other two look like Beaver and Wally going to pepper-spray camp, hands on their ‘batons’ a lot; maybe they like caressing wood..?

7:30 a.m. Occutime, and we’re off. Down 14th and turn on L St NW, a couple of DC cops and a black SUV trailing us.

On this rainy morning, Occupy DC is acting in solidarity with Occupy Portland, which has declared today to be Shutdown the Corporations day; we’re visiting our neighbor ALEC, formally known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, on the 11th floor at 1101 Vermont Ave. N.W. (They seem fond of ones; maybe it’s the one-percent thing?)

Our homeboy ALEC, who provides right-wing legislation for state governments that’s ghost-written by corporations — one of the benefits of their being declared people, perhaps? — has been busy over the past year, pushing hundreds of anti-worker bills to stop public employees from unionizing and bargaining for a fair deal and a living wage. Alec’s been hanging out with some real douche-bag governors, including Jan Brewer and Scott Walker.

“No legislation for human subjugation!” the people chant to the beat of a drum and whistle. “ALEC, can’t you see? We’re a democracy!”

Then we’re off again, with Occupiers at the head of the pack determined to find another corporation to congratulate on his or her civic-minded citizenship.

“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible!” A cop on a motorcycle hears, believes, and shuts down K Street for us. Yeah! Let the lobbyists curse. “Get up, get down! There’s revolution in this town!” We cut through a park–Franklin Square? Who cares? Parks are so yesterday.

An OccuKid pulling a cart full of signboards announces that we’re about to see some anarchist street theater. Seems like that might best be done on the street, so we head out the other side, and…Jesus. Some students from AU want me to fill out a survey about Occupy’s relations with police. I tell them I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never screwed a cop while Occupying.

On to 1300 I Street to visit Sigñor Monsanto, the scourge of farmers and eaters everywhere. This fine Corporate-American’s first product in 1901 was saccharine, a harbinger of all that was to come, including a flurry of poisons used to make it dirt cheap for corporations to produce food-like substances that will enrich them almost as fast as they kill you.

In a partnership with Dow, Monsanto made Agent Orange, a potion that Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers alike can attest has a bit more kick than Orange Crush.

Monsanto was the first to modify a plant cell’s genetics to create fake-but-photogenic food. “Food with a boob job,” a friend used to call it.

They manufacture Roundup, a name which describes what their security thugs are trying to do right now to their Occupying neighbors. “Can I get a wagon over here?” a scruffy woman in plain clothes yells into a walkie-talkie, and a screech of sirens answers from the box.

The Occupiers sit in front of the revolving door holding a large Occupation Nation sign. “Take the day off!” they advise Monsanto employees. “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we are shutting the building down. This is what democracy looks like.”

“This is a peaceful, nonviolent protest,” they calmly inform the cops who approach. Some cops aren’t interested in nonviolence, yanking at those sitting. “Who do you serve?” the Occupiers demand.

“If you do not move, a police officer will arrest you!” one very large cop bellows, his stomach heaving with indignation. “He’s talking to a donut,” one kid grins. “Why don’t you go an arrest Monsanto?” another yells. “They’re the ones killing us. We’re upholding the law.”

But they’re not moving. Well, one girl is. She’s being dragged across the pavement by a giant donut masticator. “Medic!” she whimpers, her arm firmly clutched in his large sweaty palm. “Show me what a police state looks like!” the crowd chants. “This is what a police state looks like!”

“Show me what a donut looks like,” a kid begins, and a cop grabs his hair… then sheepishly lets go and walks into the street, where the Occupiers are unfurling a huge banner. One rope catches on a cop’s parked motorcycle, and Occupiers yell, “Stop! Don’t turn the bike over!” A cop, whose name tag reads Farr, helps free the snagged rope, and smiles at the Occupiers as they get back to work. “Thanks, officer!” the Occupiers yell. But after a bit, seeing that the paddy wagon has been backed up to the curb, he informs them that they have to get off the street or be arrested.

An Occupier does a mic check. “Should we stay in the street and get arrested, or hold the doors?” he asks.

“Fuck the street, hold the doors!” the crowd yells. And under the leering grin of the cardboard ghost writer dripping simulated blood, 12 people are arrested for doing just that. “Fuck Monsanto!” they yell as the cuffs are attached.

“Fuck Monsanto,” a cop agrees.

As I walk away through the rain, headed for the job it seems I am lucky to have, some workmen prepare to go into the building. Music by Canadian rock band Rush blasts from their van’s speakers:

“It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit. It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it.”

Originally published on CoolRevolution.net, March 1, 2012

Fear and Loathing in McPherson Square, January 2012

Image

Story and Photo by Jehovah Jones. 

Mic check.

When viewed through the wall of your soaking tent, every flashing light looks like a
police raid. Every accelerating truck engine on the street a few dozen feet away
sounds like a bulldozer heading your way.

This is the second night like this at McPherson Square in recent weeks, with Occupy
DC’s “de-escalators” keeping an eye out from the perimeter and the Occupiers in
their tents listening with nervousness and dread.

The last time was a few days before Christmas. After a large, drunk, tank-shaped
ruffian kicked an arresting cop in the balls and left him puking in the street, the
camp buzzed with the rumor: Tonight’s the night we get raided.

For veterans of Zuccotti Park, Oakland, U.C. Davis and dozens of other Occupations
across the country, the conditions seemed right: wet, cold, dark, and cops had been
humiliated; it was now personal. Word was that it would happen around 3am.

On that night, our number included Occupy DC’s ambassador of goodwill, a
pipe-smoking man of substantial age who has lived in this park for years, who sits
in a prominent spot and greets every passerby with “Happy Holidays and Happy New
Year!” There’s a guy here who’s got a petition with 1776 signatures that he hopes
will get him–and his waist-length dreads–into the Coast Guard. A genial 50-year-old
unemployed laborer/short-order cook from Tennessee who calls everybody “brother.” A
40-year-old Deadhead who is clueless about the political aspects of this venture, but says he’s here because this is the best living situation he’s ever had. A sweet, sad-eyed woman named Pepper, “as in pepper spray.”

A former journalist who had stopped by regularly to donate food and blankets, I set
up a tent in early December in response to a friendly challenge from a few
Occupiers–“What else do we need? How about your body?”–who encouraged me to sleep here as many nights as I could, even if I had to leave to go to work most mornings.

Elsewhere in the park there’s a man who styles himself a working journalist, who says he’s been here since October 1, the first day of this Occupation. He says he’s here for the stories, sleeping here because it gives him access that other media types don’t have, and because of the high price of hotels in DC.

I’m here for the most unprofessional of reasons: to experience grassroots democracy in action.

I have long wondered if the people of this country would forever sit passively by
and watch our hard-earned gains in the direction of decency and humanity be reversed
by the Republicans (aided by weasel Democrats), watch as the clock is turned back to
the dark ages of crony capitalism. This group is trying to do something about that.

Mic check.

Sleep for many of us never did come that night in December, but neither did the
police. It was one of very few blessings that brutally cold holiday season brought;
the weather was about to take an even more drastic dip, one that would cost us some
Occupiers.

There are those who say the movement is incoherent. In a way, I can see the
point–the causes cited by Occupiers are myriad, and it’s not being packaged in those
convenient little soundbites that media talking heads prefer. But if you actually
think about it, my erstwhile colleagues–employing your own brain cells instead of
your tendency to lazily regurgitate–it becomes obvious why that’s the case. With so
many powerful people dedicating so much time to screwing up this country for their
own narrow benefit, the fact that one can’t simply hand over a concise statement of
purpose to cover it, says far more about the size of the problem than about those
trying courageously to begin to correct it.

Some say the movement is too inclusive for its own good, that those hangers-on who
aren’t here for a specific political reason need to be booted. But how can you kick
out the already marginalized, many of whom have things to teach you about surviving
in a hostile environment?

Among the hundreds of people who have come to watch the circus, many have clearly
joined it, at least in spirit. A steady stream of messages from the street tell us
how the revolution looks from there.

“Thank you for doing this for all of us. What can we do for you?”– a carload of elderly women stopped at the light close to my tent.

“God bless you from the rest of us. Don’t lose hope; you’re making history.”  — a
middle-aged Hispanic man, through the window of a battered pickup, to a chorus of
honking horns behind him.

“Go home, commies. Get a job, dirty hippies.”   — screamed from the windows of a  series of SUVs and sports cars barreling down 15th street.

If volume is the measure, the wingnuts win; one of their favorite tactics is to park
close by at 3am and blow their horns nonstop to keep us from sleep.

One of the more blatant hypocrisies I’ve heard is “Give us back our park!” I used to
work across the street, so I know that the main users of this park before October 1
were the homeless and the rats–and both are still here.

Tonight, the rumors fly again, probably with more reason this time: On Friday, the
Park Police, our nemesis/defender, apparently caving to pressure from a rabidly
partisan neocon congressman from California, issued an ominous warning: after noon
today, they will start enforcing the “no camping” rule. Nobody’s sure precisely what
form that enforcement will take, but it involves potentially arresting those
“sleeping or preparing to sleep.”

Once again, we wait. Will the dreaded crackdown come, and if so, what will happen to
my friends and neighbors who are unlucky enough to have no other place to go?

Mic check.

Text first published on CoolRevolution.net, January 31, 2012, and on OccupiedStories.com, April 26, 2012.