MIAMI -- A strange and hard day. We are all in a bit of shock after yesterday. The Pagan cluster meets for an emotional debrief, very stressed because time is short and we are committed to taking part in the Really, Really Free Market action at noon. We have so much to say and so much emotion to share, grief and rage and shock, about yesterday's police attacks. Many people in the cluster are new and have never experienced anything like it. Some of us have, and each new incident stirs up an old well of grief and anger.
We rush off to the Really, Really Free Market -- the action to show the alternatives. The delegates have ended their meetings a day early, signed a surface agreement that means little and gone home, so there is no need for confrontation. Nevertheless, police have been following us all day, picking people off, arresting people peacefully walking on sidewalks. They grab a couple of kids coming out of the convergence center and crush their bicycles. They harass a vanful of radical cheerleaders coming to the Really, Really Free Market.
The Really, Really Free Market is a beautiful oasis in the midst of a brutal police state. We negotiate with a group of homeless women who hang out in the park we have a permit for, and set up our 'booths' -- blankets on the ground. There is a Free Massage booth, free food from Food Not Bombs, free Medical care from our medics. The Pagans set up our Living River to decorate the fences. We set up a healing tent for free trauma counseling, and another healing circle inside swaths of magically dyed blue cloth. We pull out the masks for the Witches' and Anarchists' Ball that we never got to hold because of yesterday's police riots, and the paper fish and turtle hats that never quite got to the march. We give away fairy money, little slips of decorated paper you give to your friends for things you value, like a smile, or a hug, or for courage under fire. On the back you write what you gave it for, so that as each bill flows around it accumulates a story. Soon the market has all the lively feel of a true village market, but with a sweetness that comes from constant little gifts we are making to each other, all the more poignant because of the constant reports of arrests that keep coming in. The street people join in the fun -- I look over and see the four women who live here each wearing a fish hat, and the baby in her stroller laughing in delight.
We end with a spiral dance, people holding the blue cloth over their heads and twining in and out as we sing and chant 'We are sweet water, we are the seed, we are the storm wind to blow away greed. We are the new world we bring to birth, the river rising to reclaim the earth.' And 'Fortress walls, crumbling down, Witches healing dancing, spiraling around.' And finally, 'Brothers and sisters, go in peace, charges dropped, all released.' We are laughing and joyful, but as we are singing, over at the jail vigil a few blocks away the police declare an illegal assembly. They tell people to get on the sidewalk and they'll be safe. Then they surround the group on the sidewalk, beat people to the ground, kneel on their spines and arrest them.
Sobered, we go back to the convergence center to secure it, and pull together a debrief meeting. It's hard to debrief at this moment, when shit is still happening, I say, but it's a part of our resistance, a way of saying that our movement is strong and will continue and will grow.
In the middle of the debrief, a friend comes up and tells me that Abby and her friends have been badly beaten up, jumped by cops on their way home to their hotel, her sweet, lovely face pushed into the pavement. 'We could kill you here,' the cops tell them.
I am really shaken. During the break I go off into the field and lay my head in Ruby's lap and just sob. She asks me what I am seeing and I really can't even say -- I feel like I'm staring hard into the dark heart of cruelty and seeing more bad things headed our way. Two other dear young women, friends of mine, have been arrested and they are immigrants and I'm afraid of what will happen to them. And I really, really hate this. I hate beautiful young girls getting beaten up by the cops. I hate fearing for the lives and freedom of amazing women just because they happened to be born across a border. I hate the sneering, sly media lies and I hate the constant barrage of one awful thing after another directed against these exuberant, loving young warriors. I can't cry enough, I can't yell or scream or wail enough or beat enough barrels or smash enough furniture to release either the pain or the rage.
But I pull myself together and go back in to the meeting, where we decide on our strategy of political pressure and organize our jail support. At the end of the night, a young blond woman and a long-haired man are having a sword fight with leftover cardboard tubes. They are whacking each other and playing and laughing. Others join in, whirling with their swords and feinting at each other. The harder they hit, the more they laugh. Another cadre dashes in from outside, swords drawn, yelling a battle cry, and a mock war breaks out. It's play therapy, I think, re-enacting the beatings we've suffered, transforming them into play and laughter and joy. And that is the strength of the movement, a power ultimately stronger, I believe, than anything they can do to us.
Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising and eight other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainer's collective, www.rantcollective.org that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues. To get her periodic posts of her writings, email Starhawkemail@example.com and put 'subscribe' in the subject heading. If you're on that list and don't want any more of these writings, email Starhawkfirstname.lastname@example.org and put 'unsubscribe' in the subject heading. These updates are posted daily on: www.utne.com and www.starhawk.org