FreedomTuesdayz, Michigan Ave. The sun sets early. The streetlights are surprisingly good, though. D, J, and J on the island between lanes on the east side of the intersection. J, L, and S by city hall, SE corner of Huron and Michigan. Our signs say “Honk If You Don’t Trust Police,” and “Protect Black Life,” and “Justice for Aura Rosser.” D’s drumming and horns honking ring through the night.
Some car passing by, saying something like “who you gonna call?” and “until you need them,” etc. Then an older white guy on a bike stops on the NE corner, gets off the bike, keeps yelling “who you gonna call?” J goes over to him; they converse, though the guy just keeps yelling, moving his arms up and down. S moves from the curb to the island.
A car stops at a red light, heading west. A white, middle-aged, hetero couple. The woman on the passenger side says, “You should support the police. They are here to protect you.” J tells her “that’s not how they treat us.” The woman responds “Who’s us?” J says something like, “People of color. I’m Palestinian. You know what that means?” The woman says something like, “Bitch, you’re whiter than me,” with a lot of anger, and “the police are here to protect everybody.” She gets out of the car at some point. The driver, her husband, stays in the car, at the intersection.
“The police are protecting you.” We can smell the booze on her. “Why, because I look white?” “No, because you’re an asshole.” It got even less reasonable from there. “Mutt,” “bitch,” “fuck you,” and “I SUPPORT THE POLICE!” We ask her to step away, to get back in the car. She keeps saying “who the fuck are you?” along with repeating the other stuff. Her husband is looking on, creepily calm-like, not saying anything. She’s hitting J’s arms and the sign J is holding, sticking fingers in D’s and J’s faces, (almost?) pushing, cussing right in the face or the ear. Just super fucking provocative. Three of us make a semi-circle to shield J from the physical assaults.
Meanwhile, people gather on the SW corner, our supporters, watching what’s happening. One of them asks a passing cop to intervene. A cop car pulls into the middle of the intersection next to the island. The cop walks up and asks the woman to step aside, takes her to the NE corner. She speaks to him while squatting down to tie her shoelace, but he must still smell the liquor on her. The cop comes back and asks J what happened. Then he asks, “If everyone goes different directions is that going to solve the issue today?” He asks how late we’ll be there. The husband says repeatedly that we blocked traffic; he’s still parked blocking the lane, this whole time. There is a brief discussion about whether it would be ok if they just leave. The decision is yes, that would be ok, with the important caveat that if she were Black, they would’ve had her in cuffs by now. The cop says, “You guys obviously have strong opinions.” J: “We don’t throw punches. We don’t swear at people.” Cop: “I know. It’s not … she’s drunk. You’re absolutely right. You guys all set?” The cop leaves before the woman steps back into the car, but she does sit back down in the passenger seat, while her husband rolls down all the windows so that she can yell “You’re fucking evil” and he can yell “eat shit” and flip us off before driving on to their next adventure. Who were the police protecting, except themselves?
A coupla minutes later, another white hetero couple in a car stop at the light, the woman driving asking to see our signs. After seeing, says, “give me some” and D gives her a “five.”
I am personally happy no one got arrested; but seriously, the shit white people get away with. And seriously, considering how calm she was with the police—which does mean that she had her wits about her, even if she drank some—I hope she hangs out with them and not with us next time. Also, it’s a fucked up society to live in when we expect and accept violence from others, and even from ourselves, and expect and accept the police to negotiate that violence, when they are nothing but goons for hire. Given that, what can we do to try and minimize our contact with the pigs? What would we have done if they did not come and she did not obey them? Should we have a protocol, or are we still experimenting? In spite of the fact that to me personally it didn’t seem like the right thing to do at the time, should we have stepped away until she left? What would we do if she still didn’t leave? Once the cops came, were we doing the right things? Should we have been mute with them? Or should we have told them “pigs, do your job, let us do ours”? Even though I think we did well given the circumstances, I feel disempowered by not having the answers to these questions, and by not knowing what each of your answers may be.