Chicago, IL- I’m sharing this story in order to give credit where credit is due, and to express my love and appreciation for a fellow Occupier, who always goes above and beyond the call.
On Sunday, my friend, and fellow Occupier, Matt, bravely stood up to a white shirt, to negotiate my entrance into an alley where protesters were seriously injured.
Most of our friends were trapped inside a massive kettle, and the police were continuing to push most of us back. A handful of injured protesters had been helped into a triage area by street medics, at the mouth of an alleyway. The police were in head busting mode, and just talking to them felt dangerous.
There were too few medics in the triage area, and the police had just barricaded the alley. The medics inside were crying out for more assistance. I tried to talk my way in, but the police, including the white shirts, would not listen.
Matt appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and approached one of the white shirts, to ask that I be allowed inside. The exchange was obviously quite contentious. I didn’t hear everything that was said, but the white shirt eventually barked, “Okay, just her,” and ordered the blue shirts move the barricade. I looked back at my friends, and with mutual worry in our eyes, we parted ways, and I darted forward.
In that alley, we had three bloody head injuries, and one blunt force trauma injury to the chest. The police would not let EMS anywhere near us. We tried calling 911 dispatch, but to no avail. The police had total control of the next street over, so there was absolutely no excuse for their actions. We were told we had to move these people.
Patients with head injuries, for the record, should not be moved in this way. One man began to vomit the moment he stood up. We were told to take them all the way to State Street. One of the out of town medics gave me a street medic patch to put on, as I had no red tape on, at the time. I have various certifications, but I hadn’t planned on acting as a medic that day. Ultimately, I had little choice, as the police had kettled numerous medics, and restricted the movements of others. They had injured peaceful protesters, and then kept medical assistance at bay.
I have witnessed police brutality, and general indifference to suffering, in the past, but I must admit that this experience got under my skin in a way that others have not. It’s actually very hard to put into words. The memory of it feels like a wound that will probably take some time to heal. I suppose I am fortunate. The bruises I suffered that day are quite minor, compared to some.
I suppose I am also fortunate, as are we all, that people like Matt are part of this struggle. Occupiers like him make this fight possible, and remind me that no matter what happens, we still have each other.
To anyone who is still naive enough to believe that the police are our potential allies… I can’t begin to tell you how wrong you are.
To Matt… thank you for being brave, and for being strong, and for looking out for your fellow protesters. You are an inspiration, and I’m proud to stand alongside you.