Miami Dispatch: 11/21

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

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

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,
that offers training and support for mobilizations around global
justice and peace issues. To get her periodic posts of her
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