SF2 (Screen Free Week)

Posted: May 12, 2012 in Action, Blog, News, Screen Free Week
Tags: , , ,

I started this day a little nervous, and with good reason as I would later find.

May 1st is known as a number of international holidays, but one of which is a struggle for workers rights. A day that has been known throughout history to mark a turning point, where workers struggles reach a new level of strength and achieve more rights or independence. A bit of research will come to all sorts of details on the events that have fallen on May 1st throughout history.

At any rate, individuals in the Phoenix area have been planning to have what is called a “general strike” on this day, where people are encouraged to not participate in the capitalistic system. This is done by refusing to work, do chores, or spend money. Instead they are encouraged to hit to streets and express their desire for more respect and rights for the producers, workers, and other people that make this commerce world go round.

This year the organizers decided it would be interesting to bring this message of workers’ rights and struggles to the “corridors of wealth”, that being Scottsdale Arizona. A place many residents of Arizona know is a concentration of wealthy and upper-middle class individuals. The whole city is also cleverly decorated and resembles an “old-western town”, with iconographic statues and images throughout the cityscape of cowboys and “Indians”. As a Native American myself I have always found this to be a bit demeaning, as in a subtle way Scottsdale seems to knowingly or otherwise portray a stereotype of Natives as savages and transients, whereas the Wranglers appear to illustrate independence, strength, integrity, and power.

At any rate, something interesting was bound to happen on this May 1st in Scottsdale, and being someone that is skeptical of the processes and practices of Capitalism as they relate to impact on humans and non-human life, I wished to be witness to whatever does happen. Little did I know I would be deeply entrenched in it regardless of my wishes or desires.

I arrived several hours early just to scout-out the area, and get a general feel for the cityscape and perhaps soak in the energy for things to come. I found myself quickly bored and rather annoyed by the general feel of this crystalline concrete jungle, so I asked around for a small local book-store. I was hoping for something similar to what I am used to in other cities I have lived in, but the only location available in close proximity to me at the time was a Western themed bookstore. By themed I mean all they carried were books on the west, southwest, warfare, prospector’s and Native’s lifestyles and history.

I made the best of it and found my way to the Native American sections, and came across a great book on the economics of the Republic of Lakotah as it relates to the modern global economic system. I read for a few hours, and learned a few revealing things about the history and internal structure of a place I always considered a very intriguing “Sovereign Land” within U.S. borders as we consider them. If this topic intrigues you in the least I encourage you to research about this place, and what they are in the process of building.

While reading I received a phone-call from one of my significant others, whom it was very good to hear from. Her and I have a very beautiful relationship when it comes to person-to-person interaction, but generally speaking when we are not in each other’s presence our relating is mainly in the form of text messaging. Because I was taking a break from screens during Screen Free Week, clearly that meant I was not using my phone for sending or replying to text messages. It is interesting to reflect on how dependant some relationships have become to this medium of communication. A lot can be discussed about this point, but for now I will return to the climax of this entry.

Individuals gather, and as the advertised time approaches everyone can feel an odd mix of calming tension grow. There was a lot of local media, as it is rare around 100+ rough-around-the-edges looking youth in mostly black assemble in Scottsdale. I am holding and on occasion revealing my “Corporate Flag”, which is a satirical USA flag with corporate logos where the white stars are typically. A bit of a commentary how corporations now control our individual states, and ultimately our government. One has to look twice at the flag to really catch the message stitched within this perhaps more honest red, white, and blue tapestry.

After a brief welcoming speech and series of chants by some of the organizers, we find ourselves in-route through the side-streets of what is known as Downtown Scottsdale. What was interesting about this march and demonstration in particular, is there was only light to moderate police presence, whom were on bicycles escorting the individuals acting as a group exercising their 1st Amendment Rights. It may be hard for some to look back on history and notice, but some would argue that many events just like this throughout history is what makes up that which is all we claim to be proud of. People were taking a stand, and making their voice be heard. We make our way to a mall chanting “Out of the Mall, into the streets!”

This was a very non-violent “street party”, where no one was hurt and no notable damage was done. Some had silly string and were spraying metal statues depicting proud cowboys, and a few smoke bombs were also deployed by the peaceful demonstrators. The role I commonly find myself in these situations is to make sure no one gets hurt, split up, and hopefully to keep all aware of their surroundings so no one gets arrested and clashes with police can be avoided.

Much to my surprise, taking such a role somehow made me a target to the authorities, whom were using “snatch and grab” tactics in efforts to suppress this peaceful demonstration. Mind you which is highly illegal, as we are exercising our constitutional rights. So long as there is no violence this right supersedes any silly ordinances those in power try and suppress movements with. From my view and that of many historians, philosophers, community leaders, and teachers; true Democracy is the life-blood of free societies. If we don’t use it, we might lose it.

At any rate, those police officers that were escorting us around the city were discriminatively attempting to snatch some of us peaceful demonstrators, and ironically enough I happened to be the only one that was grabbed. I did not see it coming, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

The manner in which I was grabbed was rather brutal, and it was clear the same tactics used on me were the ones many see when reviewing police brutality in other cities around the world as the “Occupy Movement” continues to gain momentum. An officer will shout “Quit resisting arrest” to justify striking and brutalizing the peaceful individual they have clearly overpowered. I was pinned under the ground with officer’s hands in my hair, slamming my head down while striking my shoulder repeatedly. My glasses were broken, and I had a number of bruises and injuries from this excessive police force. I also never received some of my property, such as that flag I was carrying which just so happens to prove I was demonstrating not breaking laws. The video of my treatment speaks for its self.

I was extremely tightly hand-cuffed, and despite my requests to have the cuffs loosened the arresting officer only acted as if we was loosening them. Because my glasses were broken I was nearly blind while in custody, and all my possessions locked away into a plastic bag.

I could write a point-by-point account of my experience, but for continuity sake I will try and offer here a condensed version of my time in holding. First I was brought to a holding cell at the police station in Scottsdale. I knew not where I was, but I was pretty confident those that witnessed my arrest would eventually make it to where I was for jail support, which is common in some activist circles.

I willingly took their offer to “remain silent” very pointedly, and was not willing to have casual conversation or say anything at all. I was pretty confident any word I would say would get me closer to incriminating me. I knew full-well I had not committed a crime, but I would have to remain calm and centered in order to continue to make positive change in the world.

I often switched up my tactics dependant on the situation of either remaining in a vow of silence, doing deep TM meditation, and signing in the air that I wished for paper. By communicating carefully on paper I at least would have a written account of my statements instead of just heresy of my words by my captors. I also refused a number of their unconstitutional orders when they were in direct violation of my religion, which again is a human right which was repeatedly violated. I was eventually placed on one side of a steel door where a Judge read me my rights. I made it very clear to him I was going to do an additional act of civil disobedience, that being a hunger strike. I had no idea how long they would be keeping me, but I knew this demonstration is far from over in my heart.

Though night turned to day, I received very little if any sleep. I was locked in a cold concrete 9X9 room with nothing but a toilet to sit on and a sink to drink from and wash my wounds. Mind you there was no toilette paper or soft surface to sit on aside from the clothes off my back. I did all I could do to get some peace while trying to sleep by curling up behind the only spot a shadow was in my cell, that being beneath the toilette. One of the only things that kept me calm and centered was the love I feel for all living creatures, and the pulse of life and purpose I feel which reminded me this is much bigger then myself.


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