21 Days in May; an Occupy novella, part twenty-one

This piece was originally posted May 19th, 2012

The NATO summits had only revealed fully what many feared was emerging in America. No longer was this the stuff of fiction, or the Hollywood fantasy of Gestapo agents and Nazi stormtroopers exacting justice on a whim, as if judges and courts and laws were their individual domain, and a sacred language only they understood.

Was it really possible to destroy a man through the art of propaganda. Was the media, acting in conspiracy with the police state complicit in fabricating pure fiction from the fertile ground of lazy and unquestioning minds, until belief superseded truth and reason and skepticism? The headline that day in the Chicago Tribune screamed that difference:

Bridgeport arrests: Molotov cocktails or brewing equipment?
By Rosemary R. Sobol, Jeremy Gorner and Todd Lighty Tribune reporters

5:33 p.m. CDT, May 18, 2012

As the NATO summit nears, Chicago police detained at least nine people in an investigation into the alleged making of Molotov cocktails, but four were released today without charges…The nine ranged in age from their 20s to a 66-year-old grandfather with a heart condition. Several were with the Occupy movement…Building residents described black-clad police officers with battering rams and guns drawn coming into the building, searching their apartments and refusing to tell them what was going on. One resident told the Tribune police taunted him and his roommate, repeatedly calling them communists and using anti-gay slurs…Darrin Annussek, 36, one of the Bridgeport nine who was released today, described being handcuffed and shackled for 18 hours in an “interrogation room.” He said police refused his request to use a restroom and did not read him his constitutional rights.

“None of us were told why this was happening,” Annussek told reporters Friday outside the Harrison District station this afternoon.

Annussek, who had the numbers “1968” scrawled in magic marker on his right wrist from when police processed him, said police told him he was being held on a “conspiracy” charge. A social worker who got laid off, Annussek arrived in Chicago in time for the May Day march. He said he began marching in November from Philadelphia and Atlanta, “to try and spread the positive message of Occupy Wall Street.”

“To be charged with felony conspiracy to endanger anybody’s life is not only a slap in the face, it’s against everything I stand for,” he said.

William Vassilakis, who said he was hosting those who were arrested, said there were no materials to create a explosive device. Instead, Vassilakis said police confiscated supplies he uses to make beer.

Police would not answer their questions or show them a search warrant. “The only thing we were told was that we were in the middle of an investigation,” he said.

Police looked through books in the apartment, finding feminist writings and a book about the selected writings of Karl Marx, best known for his Communist Manifesto. The resident said police repeatedly called him and his roommate communists, used anti-gay slurs and teased them about going to jail.the officer took a more confrontational tone and started quizzing him about the photo on his phone’s home screen, which he described as a “fantasy painting.”

“He asked me, ‘What’s the deal with the photo?’ and that’s when he called for backup,” the man said.

Two more officers came upstairs and “that’s when he pulled me out and they searched my place,” he said. The man added that the officer took his phone away from him for 15 to 20 minutes while the search was going on.

Before the search of his own apartment ended, the man said, the police officer said he would only return his phone if he agreed to show police the photos stored on his phone “to show that I had no association” with the people downstairs.

The man said he did not know the group in the apartment below and that he has not participated in any political demonstrations.

The officers never physically mishandled him, he said. “They were very nice about stomping on my civil rights…”

But the message was unequivocal and had been rendered loudly and clearly. Somewhere within that rendering was the line between fiction and reality, between fact and untruths masquerading as truth. All were woven so artfully that one was completely indistinguishable from the other. The corporate media sold consumption and gluttony, but couldn’t sell it to a wise and informed populace. Politician’s could hardly dupe and educated people, so truth and reality and fact had to be undone. They could not simply be destroyed, they had to be undermined and confused in the minds of the public, so that each person called reality into question on their own accord.

And so a bunch of “commie faggot hippies” were roughed up, jailed, their civil liberties violated. It was the same for the guy walking along Michigan Avenue who was stopped searched and questioned by three plain clothed officers. So the population had been so animated by fear of the protesters, that the public could rightly claim they had no clue what the protests were about. Individually these things would be forgotten. Together they sent a clear and undeniable message.

Freedom and democracy in America was being eradicated.

Dissent, while not explicitly a crime was now essentially a crime. It affirmed an ideal surrendered and squandered by older generations, and shouted to their legacies that freedom isn’t a right or even a privilege any more in America, but an allowance, barely tolerated by men with power and guns. While not explicitly a crime, freedom and dissent were essentially crimes…

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