Reflections of a trained protestor 1


*candles lit, playing Erykah Badu’s Soldier*

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I just felt like prefacing with that statement because that’s my current state…

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The indictment, or lack there of, time has come. My city is in preparation mode. But it’s preparation for the unknown. We all assume we know the outcome but we can’t know how our fellow man will react (civilians, unbadged cops). So there are many ways to attempt to be prepared.

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Roughly 60-80 people were in attendance Tuesday night as we engaged in direct training. There have been several trainings taking place over the past week in order to allow people to find ways where they can assist. (Protesting is not the only way.)

Some people are actually still wondering why we are protesting, some on a daily. I find it redundant to say this but WE MUST STAND FOR SOMETHING. Among the reasons for protesting are a desire to keep fighting for justice, wanting to stay informed, to be with like minded people, and above all those who care about what’s going on and want change are doing something about it.

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Lisa Fithian, the wonderful trainer who helped prepare us for “battle” is one to follow. We’ve all sat through trainings and either been bored half to death or walked away without a toolbox of techniques/strategies or increased knowledge.

Well not this direct action training session!

Put together in part by MORE, Missourians Organizing Reform and Empowerment (@organizemo), with Netta (@Nettaaaaaaaa) as a main trainer as well, the format kept people thinking and moving.

“Relearn the art of humanizing.”

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“Justice. Accountability.”

“Exercise of our power can work to oppress us or empower us.”

“Non violent direct action involves knowing what our consequences are and how much we’re willing to take.”

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Movement infrastructure plan
-Safe space: Churches/places of refuge like St. Marks
-Teams of medics
-Legal observers

By design there are things in society put in place to keep us down. “The system is guilty as hell.” The state has a license to kill. They make it clear that if we don’t follow their ways jobs will be taken away, family structures will be broken, lives will be lost.

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Have the following:
Water
Charges cell phone/battery pack
Ziploc bag for electronics or poncho
License to carry with ID
Milk of magnesia
Gas mask
Flash light
Goggles
Masks
N95 respirator masks
Written down emergency list
8622249 jail support
Food/protein
Medication with labels
First aid kit
Know the neighborhood well
Have a plan of exit

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Rev. Osagyefo Sekou (@RevSekou) spoke at length about our engage genet in training being about a lifetime. We don’t just want temporary change. It takes the following according to him…

Deep preparation.
Preparing for something that’ll change us. In the midst of civil disobedience we become changed.

Deep abiding love.
The kind of love that says you will go to jail for someone else. You’ll be beat, but not strike back. We know there will be forms of violence – definitely from the police and even from our comrades. We are committed to militant, non violent, civil disobedience (words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

We are working with an evil system. Good people can be part of bad systems. It’s not about individuals. It’s about the entire system. We’re going to confront this system of evil together.

“By our actions they may be transformed.”

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Being medically aware is yet another part of this training. A medic discussed one of his main suggestions: at times of injury due to tear gas and the likes, get people to a safe space and keep them calm.

Using a tag team effect, the crew of trainers shared how your plans (regarding your safety) could change at the last minute so you must: Agree upon techniques with your group ahead of time. Know everyone in the group OR make friends with who you’re around. Know your own risk level.

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During protests police are looking to see what they can grab. Minimize extra items. Link up tight. If they apply pain compliance holds/pressure points, the following couple help: If it’s behind your ears, drop your jaw and if under your chin grin wide. Protect your body by laying on your right side (kidney and liver); cover your head and stomach.

Watch friends who may be withdrawing or showing signs of paranoia. People who are physically hurt are often less traumatized than those who witnessed it. They carry the burden of not being able to help and only standing by. Find a place where the person feels safe and can be calm/grounded. One technique that can help is to place your hand on the forehead and back of the neck with light pressure – helps the trauma discharge. Also have something to do during traumatizing situation; a role. Keep yourself busy.

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Lastly, while we can’t expect a certain tactic to be used…typically once arrested, they’re going to hand pat you and may take your property or they may wait (they change things on site). They may separate the men and women and transport the arrested to different stations, then may throw several charges on you; but it’s the prosecutor who determines what sticks. If you don’t take ID, they may ask for an address vs being specific and asking for a mailing address. It’s a risk but you can give a church or an address that could be a contact for you. According to those who have been arrested many times, the police are starting to ask a lot more questions now about family and your job. [New] They want to know who is the leader of the movement, is there criminal activity within the group, and more data. Existing warrant? These people typically get moved around or sent directly to the jurisdiction in which the warrant is issued.

Don’t frustrate yourself because they will play games.

Know your limits. Be aware. And keep fighting for justice.

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