Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Making of an Anarchist
I went to look at a house and meet some roommates this evening. The ride home was pretty interesting. First, a ginormous boat was on the Willamette so I had to wait for the bridge. In the process, I got to see the Morrison, Burnside and Steele (I was waiting at the Steele Bridge) Bridges elevate. It's pretty cool. I saw the Hawthorne bridge elevate for an itty bitty sail boat with a giant mast the other day, so now I've seen all of the bridges that move except the Broadway in a matter of two days. That and the house/housemates was the good-interesting part of the ride. Then, I went to the Skidmore Max station. There was a drunken homeless man laying face-down on the pavement with a Portland Police Officer straddling him. He was flailing his legs and the officer kept punching him in the neck. Then, a flurry of cop cars came driving (or flying, it was so fast) up the tracks, braking violently,slamming doors and sprinting toward the man and the first-responding cops. It was brutal and violent and, even though I was never in any danger, it really frightened me. I have historically had extremely visceral reactions to any kind of violence and this was no exception. Portland has a couple of really active Police Watchdog groups and I can definitely see why. This man was clearly mentally ill, and while I understand that cops in Portland deal with a lot of shit (there are an obscene amount of addicts, mentally ill, and homeless here because of the temperate weather), it did seem like excessive force. Literally, the man was dragging his feet and the cops basically had to carry him to the cop car. He couldn't possibly have posed any kind of a physical threat to anyone but himself. This isn't a political or philosophical post, but it's moments like these that lead people like me to view radical politics as a viable option. Actually, I've been wanting to write a zine where I interview zinesters who are progressive and/or anarchists to find out what events led them to their (invariably) unpopular political beliefs. This evening was definitely one of those moments where I remembered why I have the politics I have.