What I Learned: Protesting Police Brutality
Police ARE scary. I am a 6’4”, 185 lb., physically able, 23-year-old white man. Standing chest to chest with a line of police in full riot gear who are all holding three foot wooden batons that are well worn at the ends gives the impression that they are used to employing physical force. Behind the line of soldiers were more heavily armed troops, some bearing rifles and holding their kevlar vests. They do not speak to protesters, only occasionally would a superior officer step forward to warn me over the shoulder of his soldier that I was too close and needed to step back. We were repeatedly warned over a loudspeaker that if we did not vacate the Morrison Bridge immediately we “may be subject to the use of physical force including riot control agents”. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a disabled person in this position, or to be a black protester coming face to face with a force that regularly deals death blows with impunity.
Police are not there because they want to be—they serve the interests of the state. They were deployed to shut down a protest that had gone on too long for a laid back, white supremacist, liberal town. Members of the police had protected marchers all night long until we attempted to cross the bridge. Stopping the protest cold was a political statement, nothing more, nothing less.