The moment is alarming. The image of a society emancipated from the conflict of history was shattered, along with the window of that now infamous Starbucks. The contradictions that have been allowed to fester have culminated in the seizing in one of the most degenerate political movements of our time; a movement which lacks the decency to obscure its most vile tendencies. This is not Obama, dropping bombs and ordering drone strikes in the quiet of the night, this is a proud horde of vitriol celebrating all oppression in loud tweets. But there has been opposite, an encouraging resistance movement, emboldened by the clarity of the moment. These culminated in the alliances of the left represented by the Disrupt J20 protests. There was a revolutionary air in the streets, it was like jumping into a cold lake in the winter, the world became clear and still. We knew exactly who our enemies were, dressed to meet us in riot gear. Who do they protect and serve? Capital and the state, certainly not the protesters. We also clearly saw who our allies were, in this diverse coalition, bravely lead by the queer community, black and brown people, the young, the old, militants and pacifists. This was a vision of the future, which we all pine for, a future that to all in attendance was sure to come. This is how we defeat Trump.
Media hypocrites have condemned the protests. Why is the window always valued over the body? They focused on the shattering of a Starbucks window, which has been the symbolic image of the day for many. What have they said about the attacks on 12th street between L and K? On this hidden street, the police attacked in full brutality, they did not use force in a discriminating way, throwing sting grenades and pepper spraying many of the protesters who just happened to be in their way. In this small corridor, away from the gaze of the news camera, the bravery of the protesters was more inspiring than anything I have ever seen. As the police attacked pepper sprayed people to the ground, hitting the then blinded and confused protesters as well, there were always more people running up to aid the injured, often become incapacitated in the attempt. But we never stopped we never fled. The individual vanishes and the protection of your comrades, your sisters, and brothers, became our only concern.
Two lessons were learned on this day. One was more striking for some than others; it was revealed what the state, notably the repressive state apparatus, populated by police, cowards who hide behind their superior equipment and legal protection, truly think of us. To them we are pestilence, to be exterminated if possible, to be made an example of at the least. The ridiculous felony riot charges against the 237 people, journalists included, are meant to divide through fear. We should instead use it to unite us, if they see us as one cohesive bloc, then that is what we shall become. We should be inspired by the image of pestilence, we share in common that there are more of us than of them; they will never be rid of us, even if we are hidden. But these are not days for hiding; these are days to take to the streets.
The second lesson we learned, the coalitions, represented on January 20th, are who will defeat Trump. From climate activists to black lives matter, from queer, to straight, anarchists to communist, indigenous peoples to immigrants, we are united in our solidarity with one another and in our fidelity to a shared better future. It will not be the happy, the compromising, and the bourgeois of our world who beat the drum for revolution, but the disaffected, the periphery. As Lenin said, “revolutions are the festivals of the oppressed and the exploited.” J20 was a festival, of bravery, commitment, solidarity, and love.
Standing united in the face of police aggression on 12th and L was a coalition of people of color, queer folk, the elderly, Native Americans, men and women; it is one of the of nastiest rumors, spread by the cowardly press, that this was a day dominated by 20-year old white male anarchists. We should refuse their pseudo anti-patriarchal message, which seeks to erase the bravery of the many who participated; notably the queer and people of color. These folks have so much to fight for, they did, they have, and they will.
Amid all of the horror and the fact that all we had to offer were our bodies to be sacrificed for the movement, the overall tone of the day was optimistic. We are optimistic because we proved that we would defend each other to the best of our abilities, no matter what the risk. An image that stands in my mind, is a group of activists locking arms, they seemed so small compared to riot officers dressed as storm troopers. Fearlessly, with all of the chaos happening around, they chanted, “we are here, we are queer, anarchists feel no fear.” There were many heroes on this day, but this moment will stay with me forever.