Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Actually, There WAS Violence in Seattle on May Day


Funny that I didn't hear about it until today. Maybe it's because it was Trump supporters assaulting a single 52-year-old woman instead of antifa breaking a window.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I've met the woman in question. She is the creator of Make Me a Sammich, which I've talked about on this blog before. I even met her once at an outing she organized for her fans. She's really great. And that is why I am so extra furious at the fact that this happened and that once again mainstream news media is fucking over a vulnerable person in a flaccid and cowardly attempt to maintain the illusion of "neutrality," which we all know does not exist. It just means you're siding with the oppressor.

So. Let's dig in.

This woman, whom I will refer to as "Rosie" because she's understandably nervous about her real name being out there, went to the May Day protests on Monday. At one point, she ended up walking to Westlake Park because she thought that's where the main pro-worker protest was gathering. This is understandable since Westlake Park is a common site for protests. Instead, she found the 150 or so pro-Trump people there for a rally for "free speech" or whatever excuse they were using to puff out their chests and shout racism. The crowd was mostly men, some in makeshift armor, helmets, and/or face coverings (apparently it's just fine when they do it).

Being a long-time feminist and social justice activist decked out in anti-trump buttons, she soon found herself in debate with a couple Trump supporters. As you might expect, they were not open to new ideas and the debate went nowhere fast. Then things started getting heated. Rising voices attracted the attention of more Trump supporters.

This is all being recorded by Rosie. You can see her video here. It's all very cordial until about the 10 minute mark when she mentions exactly what Trump did say about Mexican immigrants to the U.S. The re-stating of Trump's actual words upsets his supporters, who say "that's just silly," to which she points out that "that's what he said." Then Rosie gets understandably angry because she's interrupted by a dude who has the nerve to try and stop her to "let this man talk." Because men can never wait their fucking turn to talk and if you refuse to be interrupted, they get very offended. Then, when she points out that the man in question is a white guy, they get SUPER offended.

That's when the video gets hard to watch. She notices that she's surrounded by men at this point. She swings her tablet around to show that's she's surround and starts saying "get the fuck away from me." They decline to do so.

Seeing her surrounded like that gets my pulse up. And compared to her, I've endured far less abuse at the hands of men. Rosie has made it no secret on her blog that she's been repeatedly abused, sexually and physically, and raped multiple times. So seeing her surrounded like that, my own fight-or-flight response is already kicking into gear. I feel a sense of dread.

So I can imagine that what she felt in that moment was 100 times worse. How she held it together at all is beyond me.

But instead of collapsing in a puddle on the ground like I probably would have done, she stands up to them. She starts shouting, very forcefully, "GET THE FUCK AWAY, GET AWAY FROM ME," etc. And the camera spins like it's a fucking horror movie, from male face to male face, most of them smirking or laughing at her, not moving away, doing nothing to give her space. On the contrary, the crowd appears to press in on her. Somehow, whereas just a few seconds ago it seems like she was engaging a couple individuals, it now looks like the entire crowd has turned on her. Every face and body is pointed her way. She is blocked in, with no way of escaping without risking harm.

As she starts calling for the police for help, chants of "USA. USA." start up, likely to drown her out. Some douchefuck says "you're not even listening," as though she's supposed to stand calmly and take the abuse of 150 people all around her. She's panicking, frantic, and then it happens. The camera stops on a hand reaching out toward her. At this point the camera spasms as she screams "get the fuck away from me" again, and cries are heard all around her of "oh! whoa!" as though she just struck somebody in the face.

She didn't. A video from another perspective, ironically from someone ostensibly trying to prove that she committed assault, shows that all she did was reach out and lightly slap the arm of the guy who was reaching for her.

Why did she do this? Is she a violent person? A dangerous liberal who's mentally ill and needs to be imprisoned for the safety of good people?

That's what Trump supporters are saying about her. But let's review the tape.

Rosie was under intense stress at the moment she slapped a dude bigger than her on the arm. She was spinning around, trying to defend herself from a crowd of 150 people, many of them yelling at her, laughing at her. At this point, everyone is waiting for "violence" to break out. The men immediately around her are taunting her, goading her, and refusing to let her go. They see her getting upset and they keep doing what they're doing to get a further response. They're tormenting her in order to get a reaction.

How much do you want to wager that each of these men has one or more accounts online that they use for the purpose of online harassment? This is exactly the strategy of so-called "trolls." They try to trap people and then push them to their limit until they react with anger or other intense negative emotion. They try deliberately to trigger people and then laugh at their pain. This is what the men in the video are doing. And worse, the moment she lashes out physically, then they're free to set all hell lose. They're free to get physical with her, and they do. She ends up on the ground twice, shoved or pulled there by men bigger and younger than her until finally one guy grabs her and hauls her forcefully out of the crowd.

And the final irony is that he then tells her "We're not a violent crowd. Just go."

They are a violent crowd. That was a crowd of violent men who understand social rules well enough to know that if they use intimidation and verbal violence and wait until the victim lashes out with anything resembling physical violence just once, they're free to act in "self-defense" and attack. And then everyone can paint Rosie as the bad guy and victim-blame her. Because nothing leading up to the moment she lashed out matters. Their intimidation tactics, their isolating her from help, their laughing and taunting and pokes and prods. Doesn't matter, because she slapped a guy on the arm when he reached toward her.

My fight or flight response was triggered by watching that video. Don't you think that maybe, juuusssttt mayyyybebbee, Rosie's life-preservation instincts were also triggered in that moment? She, a victim of repeated and horrific abuse at the hands of men, surrounded by a crowd of hostile men, closing in on her, as she spins around to try and defend herself. Then there's a hand, reaching out to her. Is there perhaps a chance that she was, I dunno, fucking startled? That she might have seen the outreached hand as an attack, and that her instincts were kicked into high gear in that precise moment? And since the crowd was giving her no way to flee, maybe the only option left was to fight?

Cornered prey lashing out at the predator about to kill them doesn't suddenly turn the prey into a violent predator.

Rosie lashed out in a moment of panic that she doesn't even remember clearly (which is what happens when you experience a stress overload in a dangerous moment), and slapped a guy on the arm. In the Trump supporter's video, you can see her hand connect, but it barely seems to make an impact on the dude's coat, let alone hurt him. But this is the moment that prompts the crowd to lose its shit. That's when Rosie's video swings so wildly, jerking around as she's shoved and grabbed so that you can't tell what's happening. Then it goes dark.

Rosie is physically okay. She's bruised and sore. [UPDATE: She has a sprained coccyx.] Emotionally, not so much.

In other videos, you can see some douchebag in a blue coat and bike helmet holding tightly to Rosie's jacket, refusing to let go as she struggles. He shouts "I have proof this woman assaulted a citizen!" over and over, adding to my theory that they were trying to get her to lash out. The police can be seen moving in as the scuffle continues. It appears that some antifa individuals may have been coming in to try and help her at this point, but I'm not sure.

What I can see for sure is that as this rando in the bike helmet holds Rosie against her will, cops standing just feet away, doing nothing, not telling him to let her the fuck go and let them handle it. Apparently Rosie's not privileged enough for them to do their jobs. Bike helmet manages to throw or pull Rosie to the ground AGAIN and she has to struggle to stand up. Remember, she's 52. And they must know it, because at some point some asshole yells "get that old woman out of here."

That's about the extent of the incident, gathered from viewing multiple videos. But of course, Rosie's trauma continues as Trump supporters and worse harass her online and her story is mischaracterized. As the "alt-right" and other fascists mock her for being "triggered," they ignore the fact that the entire crowd of 100-150 Trump supporters was standing against a single woman in her 50's, and the second she slaps the arm of a guy significantly bigger than her, they react like she just pulled a gun. But they weren't triggered, right? That was a totally reasonable reaction to the panicked defense response of a single middle-aged woman surrounded by hostile men, right?

I hope all of those men feel real big right now, having hounded, intimidated, terrified, mocked, and assaulted a single 5'4" woman all together in a surrounding crowd. Fucking disgraceful cowards.

Oh, and as a bonus, she got a photo of one of the Trump supporters after the fact.

If you didn't yet know, that sign he's giving is literally a white supremacist gang sign. Just to let it sink in what kind of people these Seattle Trump supporters are.

And the final thing that pisses me off about this is how Seattle Weekly decided to report on it. Casey Jaywork, a dude, wrote his own account of the incident based on the videos he found. At first the publication, which she spoke to, was supportive of her, with a headline that said "Trump Supporters Surrounded, Then Grabbed, a Terrified Woman at Westlake Yesterday." Then one of the guys who attacked Rosie spoke Seattle Weekly, and suddenly, the whole thing is now Rosie's fault!

Then McKenna lunged at one of the large men standing around her, making as though to grab him by the arm. Several people pulled her back, beginning the scuffle that led to McKenna eventually being knocked over.

The account contains very little commentary. Jaywork reports on Rosie being surrounded, but doesn't bother to point out that maybe this was what started the "Brief, Ugly Altercation," as the headline now reads. It doesn't even point out that she's a survivor of multiple incidents of abuse at the hands of men until the end of the article. Also, "lunged?" That is not what I saw, in multiple viewings of videos from different perspectives. A saw her lean forward and swat a guy on the arm, like my grandma might do to a gentleman who is being uncouth. She did not "make as thought to grab him." She was fighting back. Jaywork doesn't mention that he was reaching for her first.

I don't think I could possibly express how done I am with news media outlets that start off being supportive of victims, and then when the actual perpetrators come forward with "their side" - no matter how much video there is supporting the victim and no matter the fact that the victim is a woman or a survivor or a person of color or any other vulnerable population while the perpetrator is an able-bodied white dude backed up by 149 of his friends - the news outlet backs down from their support and changes the story or is like "mweh mweh we have to give both accounts, god forbid we don't give violent people in power yet another platform."

All this in the bullshit pursuit of being "neutral" or maybe "fair and balanced."

Great job, mainstream news media, including Seattle Weekly. You let Fox Fucking News trick you into catering to the privileged and generally pulling right because you were afraid anyone might accuse you of being "unfair" and seeing a dip in your precious ratings/views. Now you're another fucking tool of the oppressors rather than being what you were always supposed to be - a voice for the people. A way to keep those in power accountable. A ballast against the disproportionate amount of power and influence held by a privileged few.

Now you're worse than useless and you should honestly slam-dunk yourselves into the nearest dumpster immediately.

And now that I've written all of this down, I'm still angry. I'm angry that Rosie had to endure this fresh trauma after everything she's been through because a bunch of grown fuck men ganged up on her like a crowd of vicious school children and wouldn't just let her go. I'm angry that for women as a whole, there is no rest from the violence of men. I'm angry that the violence of men has been so validated and supported by the election of the ultimate violent schoolyard bully to the office of president. I'm angry that Rosie may not get any kind of justice because Trump supporters and the "alt-right" are experts at manipulating the system to make themselves look like the victims. And because so many of them are cops.

Giant heaving world-weary sigh.

If you want to support Rosie, she's active on Twitter. I'm sure she could use some supportive messages, and that is where she's most likely to post updates. I will also post something if she needs donations to help with legal fees or medical bills.

And next time there is any kind of pro-Trump rally in the area, I'll be there, watching. I'm not going to let this happen to anyone again. They can't surround individual people and panic them into a defense response again without me there. I'll power my way through and get them out if I can. We have to look out for each other.

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