Story Of A Street Medic – NATO Protest 2012
all day i’ve wanted to be left alone, yet needed to be around others.
i don’t remember how i ended up at the front of the lines.
the first anti-capitalist march i went on was proof enough that my instinct is to cut away, dart through the crowd, and get to the front as swiftly as possible to deescalate the situation as quickly as possible.
or at least be there to provide any services within the skill-set of an energy mosh-medic.
so i guess i arrived there on auto-pilot.
be aware, i did not panic through all of this.
when they (cpd) first started shoving us back, i felt confused and in danger.
my perception snapped into slow motion.
(though there remain some gaps in my memory of it all)
what i noticed in those first split seconds was the commanding officer stepping forward. walking down the line. assaulting every other protester in passing.
prepping the army. leading by example. putting his hand on me and shoving me back when i turned to protest.
time stood still for me, then, as i pointed and screamed at him,
“DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME!”
he grabbed my arm, spun me around and down,
face first into my comrades.
the first of several times i scolded myself for not buying knee-guards.
grabbing hold of the nearest fallen body, struggle to regain footing.
everyone seemed aware: the most important thing in this moment was to keep people off the ground.
i’m up, turn back to the front lines.
a woman struck with a baton alerts me to the fact that this conversation has changed completely.
sidestep just in time to avoid the trajectory of a larger man collapsing back.
a shirtless boy on the ground to my right, fetal position.
i lunge for him but am oppressed, again, by the hand of the blue-shirt.
(i thought it was a white shirt, but he seems simply to be a more dominant officer: white male in light blue)
just enough time to watch the body disappear behind police lines before i am thrown out to sea a second time.
left knee on pavement, fist full of black cotton, head back above water.
with an elderly woman standing right in front of me.
slow motion flashes of red duct tape and i was in motion with the small group trying to evacuate an 80yr old woman and her walker out of the mosh pit.
locking arms to create a bubble with another protester.. then having her ripped away. faces disappearing into the crowd..
a hand on my arm let me know that i had again reached the front of the line.
spun around and down, it must have looked like dominoes as i caught myself on one knee and watched five others go down in front of me.
up, turn, cut right, too slow
crack to the temple
i wasn’t sure exactly what happened here at first.
now i’ve seen photos of this moment, it kinda looks like i was punched in the head
i knew that my mind was swimming and my ears were ringing.
i knew there were splinters of wood and other small objects coming down from above.
most important, i knew that i was already half way to the concrete and going down could mean the end.
fight or flight, when there’s nowhere to run and no way to fight?
we are all very lucky.
i remember thinking, “i can’t breathe. i need to get out. this won’t be easy.”
well, no one said it would be easy.
an unknown amount of time was passing, in and out of slow motion.
calibrated to event time, these moments stretched on and on.
“i can’t breathe. i need to get out. there is a way out. i need to find the way out.”
my medic buddy appeared then, gas mask covering his features, cutting through the waves.
wrenching me from the surf.
keeping my head above water.
the cpd put a bitter taste in my mouth that i’d like to spit back in their face.