Ohio, United States (RustBelt) – On Monday, January 30, 2017, thousands gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, OH to protest President Trumps coming to power, and the actions he committed himself to during the first week of his presidency.
Those actions include the signing of multiple executive orders that have shaken our government, torn families apart, and even threaten the lives of innocent people. Even as I type this, Trump and his cabinet members are carrying out his plans to gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
Many of the protesters I saw expressed great disdain for those actions and those complicit in carrying them out. Within an hour of me being there, the crowd had swelled from a couple a hundred, to well over a thousand people. It was one of the largest protest I have ever seen in person. Given the amount of people in attendance and the ideals being expressed, I expected trouble from the Columbus Police Department.
I’m sure many may already be wondering why I would use those attributes as reasons to believe that CPD would resort to violence when confronting peaceful protesters, and I will refer you to a TRBT article about the militiamen during the November 5th Million Mask March through Downtown Columbus titled, “Militia Madness: Why They Don’t Exist to Protect Our Rights”.
Members of Anonymous took to the streets for their annual event, which included a small band of armed militiamen (who pretended to act like some sort of security force), and over a hundred Anons, but Columbus Police Department did not bother to make much of a presence. That happened one week after the 614 Unity March Thru Downtown Columbus, where CPD used mace and rushed a crowd of peaceful assemblers with horses. Like the march on Monday, the crowd was full of women, children, and young adults.
Now, Fast forward to an event at OSU sponsored by the International Socialist Organization last Friday, January 27th. At that event, CPD had their plainclothes officers in place, and the moment the crowd began marching on the sidewalk, just off High Street, police cruisers sped down the road with lights and sirens blaring as if there was an emergency unfolding.
When they arrived on the scene of the protest, many of the officers honked their horns at protesters in a way that showed their desire to harass anyone who was speaking out against injustices being perpetrated by the State. Their response reinforced my belief that Columbus Police Department would be out looking for conflict at the next event, which I knew was taking place the following Monday.
Back to Monday nights march. For a moment, I was surprised at how calm things appeared to be, even after protesters took to the streets. Unfortunately, the calm did not remain. Instead officers blocked off entire roadways and began receiving their riot control equipment.
Many of us plead with the officers not to commit themselves to using force against a crowd of peaceful protesters, but most just smiled at us in a very twisted and demented way. Almost as if to say “Fuck you, we’re the law”, clearly failing to remember that suppression of peaceful expression of disdain for the actions of the State only breeds dissidence and pushes individuals to act more aggressively. Mere minutes after pleading with them, an order to advance on the crowd was given.
As the police made their advance, they sprayed many people, including a young woman wearing a hijab. One officer even ripped a gas-mask from someone’s face just to spray the person directly in the eyes. I myself was sprayed directly in the left eye at point-blank range. It was so close that it charred the area around my left eye, which is still healing and may leave me permanently scarred.
After being blinded, my immediate reaction was to dash in the opposite direction of the advancing officers. My face and eyes were on fire. In my flight, I ran into a spiked fence bordering the State House property, which would have pierced my rib cage and lung had I not been able to crack my eyes open just long enough to realize what was in front of me. Words can’t explain how grateful I am for being able to conjure that extra bit of strength, even though I still hit the fence hard enough to draw blood.
The impact left me hunched over, clutching my ribs with one hand while holding out my other to help prevent me from running into anything else. All the while I cried out in total agony, even attempting to seek help from passersby, many of whom witnessed me suffering, yet did nothing to help. I felt completely alone. It wasn’t until after I gave up on walking and was crouched down, using the border fence as my guide out of the area, that a woman approached me to offer help. She and the man she was with were a blessing.
They got me medical attention, and they escorted me to the rendezvous point my team and I designated before heading into the city. The two even offered to shelter me until I could reach the others, which was surprising given the way I was dressed. I’m certain that that moment helped keep what was left of my spirit intact. That moment, when I saw darkness and felt it flooding my heart, provided me with much needed clarity.
People could have died that night, and while many…no, while most will likely attempt to downplay what transpired that night and blame the mysterious men in black and people engaging in civil disobedience, please understand that something like this can happen to any of you.
It doesn’t matter what you believe in or who you support, you will always be expendable in the eyes of the State and those it employs to enforce its laws. To them, you will always be lesser. It is important to remember that the State does not protect its citizens; it protects its *interests*.