Thursday December 5, 2019
Oct-01-2011 20:04TweetFollow @OregonNews
Solidarity on the Brooklyn BridgeJoel P. Shempert Special to Salem-News.com
“They’re very, very brave to stand there when those police are taking them away. They’re doing it for all of us.” -
They’re crammed onto the bridge shoulder to shoulder, calling out slogans and standing peacefully, and the police are arresting them…one by one. One by one they’re cuffing the protesters and walking them over to a paddy wagon. Someone is filming all this from above, and I can see it all clearly.
There’s no struggle, just an endless parade of quiet, unresisting arrests, while the crowd chants “Let us move!” and “We’re fighting for your pensions!”
The citizen media crew call out to each detainee, Hey you, guy being arrested, what’s your name?” Some respond, some don’t, some can be heard clearly, some can’t. A man named Michael Burton takes his arrest calmly, his eyes seeming to meet mine as the camera zooms in, radiating quiet determination and strength. A young woman wearing an Invader Zim “GIR” hat, just a teenager by the look of her, is arrested, and someone shouts “How old is she, officer?” and “Oh, sure, arrest a child; see how THAT goes!”
My heart leaps. I realize that this is HAPPENING, this is REAL, and that this is more than a news item, or a political trend; these are human beings facing the forces of the mightiest government on earth, standing in solidarity and speaking truth to power. I realize I may, through the internet, be seeing the most important event I will witness in my life.
Niamh, not quite three years old, is watching cartoons and eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I suddenly realize that she needs to see this. This is one of the greatest things I could possibly share with her. When her show is over, I walk over to her with my laptop and show her the screen. She points at the video window and asks, “What’s that?”
“See all those people?” I say. “They’re all standing there on the bridge because they’re hungry, and they need food and jobs. And those police are taking them away, because…because the police are scared. But the people are just standing there because they love each other, and because they love you and me too.”
Niamh points to the protesters. “They’re not scared,” she declares.
“No, they’re not,” I reply, starting to tear up. “They’re very, very brave to stand there when those police are taking them away. They’re doing it for all of us.”
Niamh puts her little hand on the screen, and it just covers the video window. I feel as if she is actually touching those dear, courageous people. The tears are quietly flowing now.
“I love them,” I say.
“Yeah,” she replies.
A short while later, I put Niamh down for a nap. I sing her “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, one of her favorite lullabies. It seems appropriate. I return to the computer to write this. The Global Revolution livestream is silent, a black screen bearing the notice:
“fixing transmission – some of media team possibly arrested”
I gulp. Once again my heart goes out to those courageous souls. It’s chilling to think that the voice of the people might be silenced just like that. But then after a few moments the feed comes back in. A crowd, marching in the streets, is chanting: ”We! Are! the 99 percent!” I feel honored to be connected to this, even from afar. I chant along with them, though quietly, so as not to wake the child in the next room. The chant alters as someone adds in a descant of ”So are you!”
”We! Are! the 99 percent!
I feel so grateful, so proud. I’m infuriated at the arrests, but the calm, compassionate comportment of the protesters fills me with joy. The solidarity and love give me hope.
Niamh is sleeping right now. What she will think, what she will remember, who can tell? But it matters to me that was real with her, and was able to forge a connection between her and those beautiful people who are fighting for her. I cannot be in New York. There is an Occupy Portland protest planned for Thursday October 6. But this is our moving day, and I know I must be responsible to my family, though it breaks my heart not to march.
But as my daughter sleeps in the next room, I know at least that I have done this.
Originally published by Story by the Throat!
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