#JusticeForMikeBrown in Providence

Got back from the court house a lil’ while ago: all PVD arrestees from last night’s ‪#‎JusticeForMikeBrown action are out of police custody!! Folks are pleading innocent and I’ll have information for further court support soon: one comrade has severely higher charges than the others and there will be specific info about how to stand in solidarity and support his case. I’ll write a full report soon, but for now, what folks really need to know is that at some point in the march a couple hundred people went over the fence across from the police station and shut down rt 95-s in a beautiful act of civil disobedience.

This was done in solidarity with dozens of other highway shutdowns around the country, in response to Darren Wilson not getting indicted by a 75% white grand jury (even though Ferguson is comprised predominately by people of color), or by the “prosecutor” (who acted like a private, paid defense lawyer). During most Grand Juries, the odds are stacked against defendants so heavily, that it has been said that “a prosecutor could get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich, if that’s what they wanted.” Yet somehow, shooting an unarmed black teen 6 times and killing him is NOT indictable. Not talking “conviction,” I’m taking “indictment,” meaning: shooting an unarmed black teen 6 times and killing him isn’t even worthy of further investigation, official charges, or a trial. It’s beyond unjust. It’s a crystal clear example of the genocidal institutional racism that folks are risking their lives and shutting down the country in hopes of changing.

At a certain point, protestors blocking the highway peacefully vacated in order to continue the march back on the streets of Providence. Folks exited and most of the crowd was gone, when some tough guy cops suped on too much Call of Duty and Die Hard dvd’s decided to arrest a black protester for seemingly no reason at all. Maybe to make quota? To make sure there was at least one arrest? Cause they were pissed that their commanding officer refused to launch mass arrests against the peaceful protesters in the first place? Who knows, but, they saw a black dude who wasn’t moving fast enough for their liking, wanted to enforce their power/privilege, and roughly arrested him. Which of course, immediately sent scores of vacating protesters back down the hill to demand justice for the dude who was just arrested. For those who don’t know, “Protect & Serve” is really PIG-Latin for “Escalate & Arrest.”

The police response as protestors came back down the hill was to form a human barricade and violently shove protesters backward. My friend is a co-worker and good friend of the dude who was arrested. As police aggressively shoved us, my friend asked the cops why his friend was arrested and where they were taking him, and was ignored. He raised his voice and asked again, at which point, a white officer who’d been scowling at and pushing him, grabbed my friend by throat, and choke slammed him into the ground. Four more cops piled on. The crowd moved forward to help. The police got more aggressive, strengthened the line, and pulled another black man out of the crowd and violently arrested him as well. Everyone started videotaping. Folks had video covered, so I walked past the police to help my friend. I was ready to potentially be assaulted by the officers but no one touched me: they weren’t looking at white people. As I got closer, I considered diving on top of both my friend and the cop (who had a knee in my friends back causing my dude visible pain), but realized I’d probably wind up with a felony assault charge and brain damage to boot if I did. So instead, I just sat down next to him and the officer in order to be an eye witness… literally, like six inches away and to get arrested with him. But it was not to be: the cops were violently arresting two black men, who were standing exactly where I was standing, doing exactly what I was doing but they had no interest in arresting or attacking me. Even now that I had walked back into the highway and sat down literally right next to the arrest. As I said, the white cops just weren’t that interested in white people last night. My Cloak of Invisibility Privilege kept me as safe as Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix, as it has so many times before, and the Prov Police Department DISPLAYED the systemic racism and afro-phobia that ARE THE CAUSE of the protests currently raging around the country.

I am going to be an official witness for my friend’s case, and so, cannot type more at the moment. Suffice it to say, more violent arrests happened back on the street level, but the protest continued. There was an open mic for folks of color to share their stories, a continued rally at the police station, and an extended march through the city even after all that: I love my city and I am so proud of the folks who turned out to #‎TurnUpForMikeBrown and ‪#‎ShutItDownForMikeBrown last night. So humbled and honored to march with the young activists of color who organized and facilitated the action. So amazing to see the community INSTANTLY rally and start collecting bail money, sign up to be witnesses for the cases, and report all arrestees’ information to the onsite lawyers in order to track our comrades through the system. All told, there were multiple people successfully de-arrested and protected from violent police, and three separate carloads of folks who drove to the police barracks to advocate for the arrestees afterward. Almost 30 of us showed up in court for jail support this morning!

PROVIDENCE IS MY HOME. I PUT ON FOR THIS SHIT. I LOVE MY CITY. I lived off Camp on Forest Street when I was young, then had to move to the only section 8 neighborhood of a rich middle class suburb: it was sooooo white and classist and prejudiced and shitty and nationalistic (the suburb, not my neighborhood). I moved back to Prov shortly after high school and have been living here ever since. The Prov counter-culture is an inspiring and powerful network of overlapping social justice and arts communities, I feel SO LUCKY to be a part of it.

Power to the youth and folks of color of Providence and around the country! POWER TO THE PEOPLE OF FERGUSON! Power to Generation Now who refuse to allow the epidemics of sexual assault, institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, privilege, and police violence to be swept under the rug any longer. Power to the folks who just went to their first protest ever. Power to the folks who been fighting, and to all of us moving forward. ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE! JUSTICE… BEFORE… PEACE.

Jared Paul

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