“Unlinked” ~ Arrested on Occupy Atlanta’s Eviction Night!

“I don’t want them to hurt you.”

 

The circle was broken by kindness.

          Relentlessly grasping my flag, my chin dropped as the officers succeeded in intimidation against the peaceful protesters. General Butt Naked slid his arm through mine and our human chain came loose. The resounding moments before were filled with voices in song all around me. With linked arms, two guys within the circle strummed tunes to soothe our souls and help us forget about our impending imprisonment. We sang a chorus of “You may say I’m a dreamer” as the formation of police drew near. “But I’m not the only one…”

          I drew on the energy of the bodies and souls surrounding me.

On the other side of the barricade, hundreds of onlookers shoved their way to the best view.

Some sang along with us. Others chanted words that reverberated through our global movement. There were even stragglers that came out to witness all of the commotion.

Nevertheless, we were exercising our freedoms.

          And it felt good.

 

As I began to grin and keep myself in good spirits, I felt the tug along the chain of human bodies as we watched our fellow comrades comply or become subdued with force. My full intention was to remain silent as long as I wasn’t singing, yet that all changed when I saw what happens up close and personal when you are an African American male and you hesitate for just a moments thought. The sight was sickening. Someone started screaming at the police. I was a bit startled when I realized that it was me. I shouted “Shame!” And “Stop hurting him!”. It fell on deaf ears.

         That’s how I learned about the pressure points of the neck. And how the police will clamp down on them as hard as they can to get you to do what they want. Even if you were just sitting in a park linking arms with friends. Just because a sign said something about a curfew at 11pm.

I tried not to shake.

I tried not to be vehement.

I tried.

Another black male was pointed out across the circle.

They went straight for him, crossing through the middle to get a piece of him.

 

         After arresting about five people, there was a break. A pause in their system.

Our remaining bodies scrambled to scoot closer and re-link the chain of arms. The police seemed to back off and wait for something. The crowd in the street grew larger and louder. Someone shook the barricade and cut it loose. The police were on it immediately. Some of them blocked the view of us from the street. People waved cameras around for the best spot of exposure.

          I took a few deep breaths.

This isn’t so bad. I think to myself.

We pick up singing as the guitarists strum louder and with more passion.

I grin and wave my flag for all to see what we’re fighting for.

I sing along verses with the others until I notice a few distressed people in the crowd looking serene and into the middle of the park to the left of our circle.

My lyrics are forgotten and the words lock up in my throat.

My mouth hangs open and no sound escapes.

It’s one thing to know your fears. Heights. Storms. The Dark. Whatever.

It’s a completely new thing to be introduced to a fear you’ve never known.

Fear itself.

Amassed in the form of a SWAT team pounding clubs against their chests as they march in formation.

In. Your. Direction.

While you sit in a park. Singing “In the Jungle”. Linking arms with the nicest people you’ve ever met in your life. While a massive crowd of people watches, unable to defend you with anything but their mass collective voice and their cameras.

Somehow, my friends continue to sing. All I can do is stare in horror to my left at these grown men in riot gear with no signs of any potential riot in sight. Are they really here for us?? What are they going to do to us?? What are we doing… that would make them come after us like this?? And I realize that we must have scared someone. Big time.

          Someone with a lot of money, power, and influence on the mayor.

I recall the morning events of the day and my memories fill me with joy at how well our march went. To the Georgia-Pacific building to reinact a levitation of the Pentagon in the 60’s. We marched to the building that had stared down at us for a month like the eye of Sauron. We let our voices ring and held signs that we enjoyed making together the night before. When we arrived at the front of the building, a couple of people offered up some inspiration and pep talks through a megaphone one at a time. Then we all held hands and surrounded the building.

 

The SWAT team marched closer.

 

I force myself to take a few good long deep breaths. As I inhaled, I imagined that I was breathing in the joy, spirit, and strength offered up by the others singing around me. As I exhaled, I imagined all of my tension, fear, and bad thoughts escaping me and floating into the endless atmosphere. The effects were immediate. The music came into focus and I began to sing and feel our strength. Us mortals against Tyranny. Singing Imagine. Remaining cheerful as darkness in uniforms surround us. We sing while our state senator is arrested. We sing while a city councelman is arrested. We sing while a man in a wheelchair is arrested. We sing while our friends are pulled off of us and carried away.

 

A policeman asks me to let go.

 

I look down and a few words mumble out of my mouth. “I’m just holding my flag.”

He continues to persuade me and tugs my arm and the guitar player’s next to me.

“I’m just holding my flag.”

They take his guitar and pass it somewhere never to be found again.

I was admittedly curious what they would do to me and was determined to hold the ends of my flagstick with both hands…

 

          But the robbed guitarist leaned in and slid his arm from mine.

 

                    “Sorry… I don’t want them to hurt you.”

 

He’s taken away and my arm is left bare.

 

          I feel exposed and wish the music had not stopped.

 

The police come for me.

 

“I’m just holding my flag.”

 

***SNAP!***

 

I had no other choice…
          but to drop the remaining pieces of what used to be my flagstem. They broke it in half. I’m immersed in thoughts and feelings of symbolic undertones and a bit of sadness as my wrists are ziptied and three policemen carry me away.

 

::MEANWHILE::

The Mayor of our city watches from a SunTrust building towering over the park we made home.

How befitting for him to occupy a bank and watch our eviction as if it was just another foreclosure on someone’s house and home. What honor there must be in scaring and imprisoning the homeless who came seeking comfort and piece of mind as well as food. I can’t help but see him up there tapping his fingers together like some sort of villain from some not-so-far-off comic book.

 

The encampment falls.

 

It took a month to forge our home. Ever since the eviction, I’ve felt homeless and lost.

 

{Written November 26th, 2011}

 

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❤ Peace, Love, & Solidarity

~Kimlee

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