Lies about protesters
You know what the presence of protesters from out of town represents? I’ll give you a hint. It doesn’t have anything to do with Fox’s make-believe “outside agitator” messaging or lend credence whatsoever that protesters are paid like mercenaries. It indicates that people all across the United States still look to Ferguson as the mecca of protest against police brutality. If you think protesters personally benefit from their participation, you are wildly mistaken. We have been singled out for filming police, we have been intimidated in an effort to discourage us from exercising our rights, we’ve been beaten, tazed, pepper-sprayed, maced, tear gassed, and harassed. We’ve lost opportunities, friends, jobs, sleep and a sense of safety. If that is considered payment, then I guess we’ve been paid in full. And black protesters have been been paid in negative treatment far more than white ones.
Attitudes about protesting
One of the civil servant St. Louis County police officers who processed HW I-70 protesters on Moral Monday declared that if any protester received government assistance that person should be disqualified from receiving services if they protest. It is downright frightening that someone who represents the government could think that. Was she advocating that only propertied, wealthy people be allowed to exercise their First Amendment Right to Free Speech and Freedom of Assembly? She forgot that rights are universal regardless of your political views or socio-economic status. Based on her logic, only un-drugged women should be allowed to accuse Bill Cosby of rape. You are my inspiration for all things Rapist Cosby, Larry Wilmore.
Every white person should spend some time in jail just to see first-hand how the system works. I’m not advocating white folks run out and steal a package of huggies from a convenience store, but jail is designed to dehumanize its inhabitants. Having such an experience widens your world view of how different sectors of American society function and are treated. It would be like trading your loafers for pumps for a day. Of course, spending time in jail white, as opposed to black, is a completely different experience to be sure. It’s also a very different experience if you aren’t gender or sexuality normative. Read: dangerous.
No more business as usual
It was clear from the get-go of the HW I-70 direct action that St. Louis County police are fed up with protests and paperwork. It’s exhausting to work under threat of an abuse of authority being captured on a fucking civilian cell phone. It’s downright oppressive. It’s like police can’t get away with ANYTHING without some stupid citizen complaint following the buzzkill DOJ Ferguson Report. I’m sure some police yearn for the old days (i.e. 2014) when police profiling went unchecked and arresting citizens in retaliation for pissing off an officer was sanctioned.
Lies about protesters: they are all thugs
Most of the protesters on the highway were women. Not that women can’t be whatever they want, but we don’t fit the stereotype of the angry young black man. I find it interesting that a protest led by young women with mostly female protest foot soldiers evoked such a strong reaction from a female driver who angrily drove through the protest line. There were certainly some angry male drivers, but I remember a particular older woman got out of her car to talk to us, to tell us she sympathized but that what we were doing wasn’t the way. I respect her stance, and she may be right, but I don’t think she would have been emboldened if the protest line was male-dominated.
Lies about protesters: they get special treatment
If “special “means “harsh”, then I guess protesters get special treatment. At the HW I-70 action, police broke the wrist of a friend they pulled out of a car as he complied with a dispersal order. Police cracked a friend’s rib during a harsh arrest and threw another forcefully to the ground chin-first. He was not involved with the HW shutdown but arrested for filming police, a lawful activity. Many protesters, like myself, were detained for 20+ hours and spent the majority of that time handcuffed. The jailhouse nurse questioned us while our handcuffed hands were handcuffed to a desk chair. He asked critical processing questions like the date of our last menstrual period. So to those folks who argue protesters act like they are above the law, you made that up. We protest and we accept consequences.
People who act above the law are those who expect better treatment for doing the same thing others get in trouble for. Folks who are above the law get tickets disappeared because of connections or owe hundreds of thousands in back taxes while jailing poor people for unpaid municipal fee fines.