The march over–some 10,000 or more winding their way though the streets and neighborhoods, down to the Inner Harbor, up to City Hall. After the speeches, after all but a hundred or so had left, electing to face arrest when curfew had passed. The Helicopters, floodlights, robocop voices “GO HOME… GO HOME”… but where is home in a country where this happens?
Minutes before 10:00, the final hour of permitted speech, We (5 street medics) circled the periphery before the take down to get an idea of what we could expect. We walked past the National Guardsmen who were lined up in front of City Hall. We passed not more than 3 or 4 feet in front of them; we could see their faces, their postures, their body language. They stood there, relaxed, cradling their assault rifles at an angle. I thought–these men, and a few women–given an order, would pick those rifles up and shoot into that little group of mostly kids huddled on the lawn… I mean, kids to me, unarmed. Citizens of the country and state they are supposedly meant to protect.
That was a powerful moment. I had flashbacks of facing rifle bearing State Troopers in Mississippi. We thought then, this could happen. (and of course, it does… almost every day on the streets of American towns and cities…one or two at a time. That’s why we were there) Five years later, it did — the military firing squad at Kent State, and Jackson State.
This could happen. And it could happen again because what makes it possible, what made it possible then, hasn’t changed. That it doesn’t… is a matter of chance. A firecracker going off. A motor cycle backfiring. It’s a machine made to kill. The operators think they’re in control, but it’s the machine that calls the shots.
That’s the world we live in. The world we’ve made. And when the troopers go home, it will still be there. Waiting for the next round.
There's a pretty good video of the scene here on this Real News piece–but they don’t show the cops piling on protesters 3, 4 5 deep when they arrested them. Makes the point that this only makes sense–this massive show of force for a handful of unarmed young people–if it’s a kind of training exercise. But for what?