Ah! Another police shooting of someone “with a knife”. And another demonstration approaches – August 13. This was Sammy Yatim, a boy in distress. It seems like there’s an awful lot of ignorance around ‘distress’.
In the next rally, a consciousness-raising needs to happen. We need to discard the usual shouting and screaming, and organize ourselves to be taken seriously. RESPECTFULLY. We need people to stop and think about what we are saying. (So we need to think about what we are saying!) We need to acknowledge to ourselves with brutal honesty, fearlessly, that we have been self-defeating, un-focused, and definitely un-successful. The irony is that (I believe) we have been conditioned through both education and culture, to function in self-defeating ways.
Getting to the nitty-gritty: shouting one or two meaningful phrases is good. For example: “Police policy must change”, “Change police training,” or “No more police killings”.
But silence is good too (with signs!). “Silence is golden” – especially if it’s a very large crowd. The silence of a large crowd shocks people. It gets their attention. They don’t roll their eyes at ‘just another loud rally’. They stop, look, and listen.
And this time, a large crowd is finally a possibility. There’s time. A lot more people would join in, if they felt that the violent ones, and the “black bloc” were not welcome. Not that you can stop them, but you can at least send out a clear message, to those with ‘good intentions’. A lot of people really do care.
Surely everyone realizes how self-defeating a rally is when people are shouting in a thousand ‘tongues’ – sending conflicted, confusing messages. Imagine for the first time since the late sixties, a really massive demonstration with a focused, clear, ‘adult’ message, demanding specific changes. What power that would have.
Problems with my term “adult”? Let me help you out with that, because I can understand the reaction. I’ve spent a lot of time trying hard to see these events from the ‘viewer’s’ POV. They usually see coverage of it for a few seconds – rarely a minute – on the news (so-called). And the news is biased. So what they see is a handful of people apparently shouting a wide variety of messages, some clearly unrelated to the ostensible reason for the rally.
But imagine a mass of people who clearly, confidently, know what they’re talking about, and send a consistent message. They are clear. They are assertive. They command respect. People listen. And people think about the message, because the message is clear enough to think about.
Oh, and about the Bloc. The problem with “violent resistance” is that it is displacement for thoughtful, adult demands. When we demonstrate in a disorganized, obviously impulsive, careless way, we exhibit the behavior of little children. Kids who need to shout and scream – so they do. It’s not about communication. But communication (especially of our image) is precisely what we need to think about.
The way to get respect, is to command respect through behavior – our image. People might not be able to articulate it, but they can sense the difference between those who merely need to vent their spleen, express their angst, etc. – and those who know what they want, know their rights, and are determined to get real, meaningful change.
If that message comes out, and an acceptable response is given, we will have succeeded. There have been recommendations out of previous coroners’ inquests, but a rally like this could make all the difference.