March 22, 2003

The simplicty of protest

Category: Politics — Biella @ 2:20 pm

Since the threat of war, I have been attending the many protests in SF, a city whose lifeblood is that of public outpouring of protest. Yet, on Thursday, the protests were different: rawer, richer, and more simple.

Yes simple. The emotions were in your face. People were upset over an unjust war; the clashes with the police was a raw meetings of opposition, the solidarity was palpable. But the simplicity lay in the power of taking over the streets, of halting traffic, and the normal humdrum of the city. It was a simple yet total instantiation of what a city or any community is supposed to be and mean for its inhabitants: a space for its inhabitants. Strangers and friends were visible everywhere, bodies strung literally and metaphorically together, forcing a disruption to let people know that the war is no game even if CNN et al present otherwise.

We were all anti-war. But the public outcry was so much more. Going to war was done in such a wholeheartedly, stark, and nauseating fashion that even your average apathetic American has been moved into action. Those who were already acting, acted with more passion.

There is something very empowering about taking over streets and yes, shutting them down as a very vivid, dramatic, but really simple reminder that it is “the people” who should control the life blood of our communities whether you conceive of that at a local, city, or national level. Taking over the streets is sometimes the only way that a large mass of citizens can feel that power and really that democratic right especially given these times when the political process is so clouded, obscure, and directly manipulated by the powers that be.

The next day I went out to participate more in the continuing protests. The police had clamped down more directly so that the streets were only sporadically taken over. It made me realize just how deeply San Franciscans halted the normalcy of life that day before. I hope that these counter movements grow stronger, that they rise with the dropping of every toxic bomb that the US releases

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