On the first day of actions against ALEC, the crowd was small. Some would-be participants, feeling uneasy about the amount of police compared to the amount of demonstrators, not to mention their commitment (see: complacency) to marching on the sidewalks as opposed to taking the streets, prompted these would-be participants to watch and observe from a safe distance. A sense of disorganization was prominent as shoddy chants were repeatedly shouted and numbers dwindled.
On the second day of anti-ALEC actions, the numbers of participants seemed to explode as hundreds more attended and marched in circles outside the Palmer House, the location of the meetings.
Immediately upon arriving, us who chose to dress in black and conceal our identities from the authorities to the best of our abilities were intent on making the most of our presence combined with the larger numbers of attendees. Pacifist march marshals, the peace-police, repeatedly instructed their mostly obedient followers to ‘’not listen to the anarchists’’ when we tried to take the march into the streets.
Unfortunately for those wielding the megaphones, there were many among them who understood the logic of disruption and disobedience in the face of rampant repression. Several times, the streets were taken. Sometimes it was students at the forefront, other times it was organized workers, if not the peeps in black who marched in the streets and defied police orders.
Jesse Jackson chose to make an appearance as well. From his arrival to his speedy departure, individual anarchists could be seen shouting at him, most notably when the police opened up the barricades and cleared the streets for Jesse Jackson and his cronies to ‘take the streets’ as they left. During the days of Occupy, a woman news-anchor from ABC 7 confided to a demonstrator that Jesse Jackson was indeed a ‘’media-whore,’’ and most informed individuals know him to be a two-faced traitor, using simplistic populist rhetoric to achieve his short-sighted goals.
It was extremely obvious that Jesse Jackson’s presence made little-to-no-difference in inspiring the crowd to take action (surely, this wasn’t his goal, and it never would be). At one point, a participant in the protests could be seen taking a nap on the sidewalk as others next to him sat and played on their phones while union leaders engaged in sloganeering and continued their process of pacification.
Of course, most participants didn’t attend merely to listen to repetitive speeches as others marched in circles on sidewalks…
The ‘’permitted’’ actions were over, the sound system used to (dis)engage the crowd had been hauled away, and the reformist union/community organization leaders were no longer to be seen. It was at this time that the police began to order the crowd to disperse and to stay on the sidewalk as barricades were being set up to prevent street-action. In direct defiance of police orders, many associated with the Anti-Eviction Campaign took to the streets and began to sing and dance. Some anarchists participated until the police managed to divert everyone back onto the sidewalks.
As soon as the police turned away, however, individuals began to creep back onto the streets and the dancing ensued once again. This would only last for a few seconds, as police used their force and numbers to charge into the crowd, punching people indiscriminately and creating a trampling disaster for bystanders and participants alike.
One second I was on the sidewalk, hoping to get my dance on, the next I was on the ground on top of a woman and unable to move as people and police continued to trample over us. One officer punched me in the face a few times before I managed to crawl away. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crowd shouted.
I remember that even before the police charged us, we were stuck between the cops and the metal barricade they had set up as they pushed us all into each other, making it very difficult to move. One young woman could be heard saying, “Come on, that’s not necessary,” and hardly a few seconds went by before we were turned into a giant pile of wailing pig-fists and trampled bodies.
At least three arrests were made on this first wave. After the charge, one person picked up a pair of zip-tie handcuffs an officer had dropped, held them in the air and shouted, “Arrest the cops! Arrest the cops!”
Unfortunately, no officers were arrested. Several minutes after-the-fact, an individual was seen walking by the police, on the sidewalk. “I was actually on my way to get some lunch,” he would later reveal. But this individual was grabbed by an officer for no apparent reason. A concerned individual nearby grabbed the person’s arm in what may have been an attempt to curtail his abduction. It was here that the second wave charged through as individuals in the crowd were pushed toward the ground and several were, again, arrested for no good reason. One officer threatened to taser an individual who was already on the ground and screaming as police twisted his feet and wrists, shouting orders to ‘’stop resisting.’’
Witnesses also reported that various women had their hair pulled by police a midst the mayhem. It would later be revealed, in fact, that the first arrested individual was not even a participant in the demonstrations! This young gentleman, a courier on his way to get lunch, told an officer to ‘’Have a nice day.’’ Sporting a big red backpack, he was quickly targeted and arrested while on the job.
The vast majority of the arrestees ended up being charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, or battery. Odd, since video evidence will show that it was the police officers themselves who were obstructing justice and assaulting the crowd indiscriminately simply to make a point that they hold the power and are not to be fucked with.
Contrary to their beliefs, they deserve to be fucked with, and we will see them in the streets again…
ST(A)ND OUR GROUND