I was at one of the protests in downtown Seattle yesterday. I got there at 3pm. I saw nothing but people standing in the street with signs and chanting. Not a shred of aggression from the crowd.
By 3:45 there were people coming back through the crowd with pepper spray in their eyes. The flashbangs followed.
I’m not a skilled or experienced activist. I was out of shape even before spending months in quarantine, and I knew it was time for me to pull back. Not proud of that. I walked with a white woman who had spray in her eyes, helped her with what I could, and was glad that several more experienced young women showed up with water and milk and towels.
The woman who’d been sprayed was just stunned. No aggression. She had no idea why the cops started spraying.
I wish I could show you the next pair I met. I don’t take pictures without permission and I wasn’t about to ask at a time like this. The older Black gentleman I met and the young Black woman with him–a daughter, grandaughter, I don’t know–both had bloodshot eyes and faces covered with milk and water to counteract the chemicals. They, too, were a little shaken but otherwise chill, and had no idea why the police started spraying. He had a USMC ball cap.
The guy served his country, peacefully asked for an end to the abuse people like him keep suffering, and he got a face full of chemical agents for it.
You can see the videos all over the internet. Police attacking reporters, police running down civilians with vehicles and in even one case I saw, a horse. People who aren’t any kind of threat at all.
This is a riot, yeah. It’s a police riot.
New book out this week. Should be focused on that. Maybe I shouldn’t be mixing this in when I already don’t post that frequently on my blog–sorry about that. But this is too important not to say anything. If you have a platform, it’s time to use it.
Inevitably, someone will try to tell me this is all because of antifa–and anyone who believes that can get bent. That’s not what antifa is or what it means. Antifa means “anti-fascist,” and that’s not an organization or a group or a terrorist cell, despite anything our clearly-loves-him-some-fascism president claims. Yes, there are white people among these protests getting destructive and out of hand for all their own reasons, none of which help Black Americans. They need to settle the hell down. The far greater share of violence is coming from white supremacists and police.
Also, someone will inevitably say I shouldn’t get political, or that I will alienate half my audience, as if I’m new to all this. I’ve always been political. This is who I have always been. I’m fine with losing any part of my audience who has a problem with what I’m saying. And by the way, if you ever see this said to any other creator: it’s never half. It’s never even close to half.
This is a police riot. We need to call it what it is.