12th and L:

A Diary of 1/20/2017

A Wall of Riot Police at 12th and L

When we arrived at 12th and L, tensions were already high. Face to face with a line of police, protesters mocked and taunted, screeching: You are the Nazis protecting the Nazis. Though unmoved to act, a cop or two tightened their knuckles on their batons.

The peaceful unease broke when three men in red MAGA hats breezed past us. As red hats were encircled, the police pounced.

A mother carrying her son on her shoulders was pushed to the ground. One hand outstretched to the advancing cops, the other tightly holding her child under the weight of her body, the woman’s fear and outrage fueled their aggression at the rest of us. The police pinned us against the metal fens, and held us in place with batons and forearms.

We were pushed and thrown to the intersection where we collided with the others who had been gassed. You could hear pleas for water echoing around.

Protesters running from blash bangs and tear gas

Simulating a bomb, the flash bangs incited mass panic. Blood-curdling screams rang in response.

The injured and gassed lay strewn on the ground as we turned the corner on K. A tribal elder from Standing Rock was incapacitated and vomiting. A woman moaned and yelled as others poured water on her burning eyes.

A man helping a woman who had been gassed

The wall of riot gear cops stretched horizontally on 12th and stopped at the intersection. Facing the not just the protesters in front of them, but the entire world via the cameras and phones recording, the police were undaunted.

Media and protesters running from Riot Police

Further down K, there were people totally unaware of what was happening. When they looked up, the men and women saw a breakdown of law and order in the middle of Downtown DC.

Onlookers and police in awe

Editorial Comments:

Check your privilege is a term I heard a lot but I never truly understood what that meant until the protest. Among tens of protesters facing organized riot police, I sensed that the people of color standing by my side were in more danger than I was. For the first time I understood my privilege as a reality with immediate, and dire consequences.

Flash bangs simulate the sensory effects of a bomb just as waterboarding is meant to simulate the effects of drowning. The cruelty of the flash bang is easily perceptible — just watch the people’s reaction to the bang in the photos.

Amid a sea of cameras, the police shot rubber bullets, manhandled innocents, sprayed gas, and flung flash bangs. Militarized force and tactics will be used against civilians in the United States.

Medic helps gassed Elder from Standing Rock
Woman carries man blinded by gas
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