Police Tweets about May Day

While it is a privilege to follow a news event in nearly real time without the dilutions, biases, etc. that come with the mainstream media sausage creation, following something like the May Day march in Portland, Oregon through a twitter hashtag has its own setbacks.

One such setback is a human being who has this image as their internet avatar:

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I understand that not everybody sees the world as I do, and can respect that to a certain degree. However, capital worshipping I-shop-therefore-I-am types get the whole year for their worldview. For those of us who value human life more than a CVS window, for example, we get precious few days, and May 1st is one of those. Labor Day is not. It is the macguffin of holidays. To put it another way: it is an American holiday in honor of worker’s rights, aka a joke. May 1st began as a worker’s holiday in this country, but was then baited and switched with what red scare era conservatives labeled alternately as “Americanization Day,” then “Loyalty Day,” and an official national holiday signed into reality by D.D. “Ike” Eisenhower called “Law Day.”

Arguably the labor movement had already succeeded in creating an equitable work environment that any human being in the country had equal access to, under the simple condition that this human being get off its lazy ass, or out of its hobo boxcar, trading in the ride-the-rails dream for a decent American wage. So it makes sense that someone would see a labor demonstration as an unnecessary inconvenience.

Leaving with 3 hours to go in order to try to get to work. Hope I make it there safely. Thanks oh so much

The irony of course is that, had the cat lion human left Beaverton three hours LATER, the protest would have been long over. And so, as I check what is happening at the #maydaypdx I left behind in order to be here I don’t get news, but rather the ignorant fuming of someone whose life seems to revolve around negative experiences involving public transit. #thanksobama

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 8.34.22 PMCritiquing capitalism in public in America is subject to such pitfalls because it essentially elicits the response one would get from young fishes when commenting on the water—as described in David Foster Wallace’s now iconic commencement speech—What’s water? And so—as the short speech has become titled and sold in inspirational volumes—the answer, however obvious it may seem, is given: This is water.

Lyse, this stuff that surrounds us and envelopes us, the transit buses, the MAX red line, the SUVs operated by humans, the way that these things create what outside public space feels like, it is not inevitable. It is not the only way. It might not even be the right way. To get to that conclusion, however, one would need to think that another way was even possible. The conceptualization is possible for any individual. To flood a downtown artery with human bodies essentially drowning what we have come to expect to dominate us, however, requires a crowd.


This is an indescribably empowering way to experience public space, especially in a major American city at rush hour on a Friday afternoon. Especially for a bicyclist. Especially for someone who incorporates a distrust of capitalism into day-to-day life. Being part of a group of humans that, in the name of raising awareness of the systematic oppression of individuals from all walks of life who are not blessed with inherited capital, shut down traffic with their own flesh and bones is a miraculous feeling. To the spectator it must seem amazing, though Americans have been trained to perceive a violence in it. Others have been trained to see something else:
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What Shimmi B is failing to acknowledge is that it is her own perspective that creates the accomplishment of the demonstration. Shimmi B celebrates her own unquestioned privilege, the inherited cultural capital of being a #bruinsgirl from a #BruinsFam, and of course the literal capital that goes so much further here in Portland, Oregon than it does in Los Angeles. Indeed, the self-fulling prophecy is true: the protest accomplishes nothing if bystanders don’t question the supposed inevitability of capitalism and the oppression of those that don’t heinously profit from it, and Shimmi B refuses to question it. Don’t let the protestors win: refuse to think critically. Focus on the traffic. Resort to the stale tropes propagated by the mainstream media. Talk about the #NFLDraft
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Most bizarre were the tweets coming from the Portland police. Are they trying to trick protesters following the hashtag to flee the intersection of 2nd and Burnside as a Pavlovian reaction to no-line-at-voodoo-donuts? Or is line-at-donut-store a constant update on the cop twitter, effectively its true purpose? Uncertain.
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What is certain is that this dog is cute, and that’s the most successfully demonstrated item on the agenda. After the cops started tear gassing protesters and throwing incendiary devices at the frontlines of the crowd, the tenor of their tweets quickly changed to all business, and not just donut business.
Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.43.48 PMPerhaps my favorite tweet from someone who participated in the march behind a screen (that is did not participate in it, but instead experienced an us/them version of it that was mediated by capitalist forces) was a reporter passing on the police’s message that nonviolent protestors will be left alone. However, if things did take a brick-through-the-window turn, she alerted everyone that if they witnessed property “injured” by the protestors, they should report it, so that the axe may fall, and that the dominant order be restored. The tweet has since been deleted because it was too clearly illustrated that the mainstream media, the police, and all other forces that make sure folks accept the vast concentration of the wealth by a few others, believe that bodies of property are worth more than the bodies of people who do not own property.
Here are a few more favorites, cherry picked from serious citizen updates for others like me that had to leave to staff the volunteer desk at local non-profit institutions:

Luckily we just made it out from there!

Idk how I went to the gym earlier and didn’t see any of the stuff going on downtown.

“Oh.. It’s gonna be like Hunger Games getting on this!” Riders waited 2+ hours for MAX, after delays.

participants are just a bunch of neo communist sheep! They have been brainwashed by Subversive Agents into being angry!

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