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Speechless

For the past few years (no, thinking back, about a decade!) I’ve been going to a small Pagan festival in Minnesota.  The people running it have varied, of course, from year to year, but there’s a core group who are always involved.  The festival is a joy.  I missed this year, due to scheduling conflicts and the price of gas, but last year there were over 300 people – and more than 90 of them were minors, from new babies to teenagers.  Overall, the people are friendly and respectful, the kids are a joy to be around, the workshops are thought-provoking and informative, and old oak grove it’s held in, which mostly hosts mundane concerts, is left cleaner than when the festival started.  The Minneapolis area pagans I’ve met at the festival are friendly, responsible, and gentle.

 

A couple years ago, some of them formed a group for education and social action in the upper Midwest area, though so far, most of what they do happens in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.  Because I was so impressed with these people, and because I would like to have contact with like-minded people year-round, I joined this group.  Mostly, my participation has been reading their e-mail newsletter; the bulk of the membership is still in or near the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, so that is where most of the activities have been, including participation in a ritual to support the fight to get the Wiccan Pentacle approved by the Pentagon as a grave marker for Wiccan soldiers, other rituals, and meetings.  As part of their mission of education and information, people can also post information about other meetings, rituals, and gatherings sponsored by other groups.

 

Other than event announcements, the e-mails I've received from them have described things like their efforts cleaning up a stretch of highway (part of the Adopt a Highway program) and volunteering to deliver food to home-bound elders on Christmas.

 

More recently, there were posts informing members of a gathering whose intent would be to pray that the people gathering for the Republican convention be blessed with an upwelling of earth wisdom.  Originally, they talked about gathering outside the convention to pray in public.  Not to protest—to pray.  Eventually, they changed their plans.  There would still be a ritual, and Starhawk would still be invited to lead the prayers, but it would be at another location. I longed to go, but Milwaukee is still a whole bunch of pennies from Minneapolis, even without the car being somewhat under the weather.

 

So, after a pleasant Labor Day weekend, during which I worried some about Hurricane Gustav but mostly ignored the news, the Republican convention, and the computer, I was appalled to come back to posts from my friends about things that mostly haven't been covered in the mainstream news.  One post included a long piece by Starhawk, including this quote: 

 

“All day we've been getting news that the police have been raiding houses, breaking down doors, arresting people, with or without warrants or warnings. We hold the morning meeting in a public park, because our Convergence Space has been raided and closed the night before. Someone says, "We're a community that includes children—we can't clear them out of their own living spaces. Remember if the police raid your space it's important to have someone negotiate with them to get the children out."
 

”I am a tough person. I've been through a lot of these things and in spite of all my efforts to stay open I've grown something of my own protective scales. But those words pierce through them, and I find tears welling up in my eyes. It just hits me, that we're standing here in the United States of America, in the liberal city of my birth, talking about how to protect children from armed police.”

 

Wow. 

 

And my LJ friends include someone who was just biking in the area of the convention, and with about 500 other people, pedestrians, bikers, and motorists (even taxi drivers and their fares) was surrounded by police in riot gear, told they were all arrested (though eventually he was not arrested) and to sit down on the ground or get tear-gassed. 

 

And others share news:

  • Five different police agencies stopping a family in the bus they’ve been living in while teaching people about sustainable agriculture, solar power, and the like, without a warrant.  Eventually the bus (worms and all) is impounded in case they can get a search warrant later, and the people, their dogs and chickens (but not the teenage girl’s shoes) are left by the highway, no longer detained.
  • Police with warrants that require them to knock and announce themselves battering down doors without knocking
  • Award winning journalist and host of "Democracy Now" Amy Goodman was arrested by St. Paul police while covering a protest outside the Republican National Convention
  • A warrant read aloud that reportedly allows police to search for items that could be used in a direct action, including not only things like molotov cocktails and match heads, but also computers and x-box systems and x-box games

Am I missing something here?  X-box games? 

 

And how manyhouses don’t have matches, glass bottles, string/twine, rags, and some kind of inflammable liquid (alcohol, kerosene, turpentine, varnish, etc.)? Or other things one could use in a "direct action"? 

 

Also, where is the major news coverage of whatever is going on? Me forwarding these LJ Friends' words to "you" isn't worth much if you don't know them.  Not everything that is written anywhere is true, after all.

But I keep returning to Starhawk's words, and the image later in that e-mail of a young woman held at gunpoint and cuffed in front of her kindergarden-age son, because they were at the place the prayer meeting was supposed to be held.  The boy wasn't hurt physically, that I heard, and the mother had been released--but how good can it be for a five-year old boy to see his mother held at gun-point by the police?

 

You know, even though I have friends who protested in the 60s/70s with their pockets sewn shut, because they didn’t want to risk police slipping something into their possession, I really didn’t expect to hear that friends of mine, or friends of friends, or for that matter, anyone who had not provided clear and obvious probable cause, would be having to worry about how to protect their kids from systemic police violence in this country.

 

Wow. 

I feel speechless, despite the length of this post.

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