The news out of Los Angeles has been the same for three nights in a row. Hundreds arrested, night after night, in massive, violent “protests” downtown. I normally fall asleep to the low murmur of LAPD dispatchers on my pawn shop police scanner- but lately it’s just been calls for backup, screams for more handcuffs, and calling out the badge numbers of those who have “turned”.
The Thin Blue line seems close to crumbling these days, with cops sometimes simply going mad in the middle of the riot, and either aimlessly wandering onto the freeway, or really “going native” and handing over their cruisers and personal arsenals to protesters before wading into their own skirmish lines, fighting tirelessly until they can be tased or beaten into submission.
Today however, was the first organized “peaceful” protest, that was to start in MacArthur Park, and end in front of the Federal building downtown. Liberal marches always bring the freaks out of the woodwork, and this was no exception. Topless women, single fathers pulling wagons filled with children, and Chicano revolutionaries covered in Aztec tattoos marched side by side. Ten thousand showed all told, a massive show of force for a city so used to apathy and sitting in traffic.
A single question turned over in my mind as I broadcasted fake reports over the official channels, screaming that “the protestors had built a goddamn tank”. How many of these people voted? How many voted in the last midterm election? How many could articulate the actual policy change they were looking for? One protester blurted out to an abc7 camera “We made a huge mistake, and we won’t accept it!” It seemed to sum up the general message of the protests: anger, but also the calculated eschewing of responsibility.
The cops breathed an audible sigh of relief as we were corralled into the Third Street Tunnel. Protesters reveled as their chants grew to a deafening, feverish beat that rolled off the long dome above them. “Say it loud, say it clear: IMMIGRANTS ARE WELCOME HERE!”
And as the thousands chanted and congratulated themselves, I knew that we would never leave that tunnel: chanting to our own satisfaction in an echo chamber. Heard by no one above.