Well, well, well..... There I was at the Artesian Well talking to folks about downtown issues when a 6' motorcycle cop pulled up and stood over a man sitting against the wall. The man had been there for at least the half-hour since I got there. I walked over towards the cop and the man and when I had got within about 20 feet the cop yelled at me to "Back off!" I said I wanted to ask him a question but he said matter of factly that he was arresting the man for drinking in public and I should stay away. The man was not visibly inebriated, nor had he made a sound or interacted in any way with the rest of the 20 or so people who had come and gone.
After a few moments of observing the interaction, I asked, from my 20 foot distance, if I could help in any way. The motorcycle cop said, "You talking to me." I said, "Yes." He said, "Yeah, you can leave me alone."
He could have said, "No thank you, I don't need any help."
He could have said, "No thanks, I can handle this by myself."
He could have said, "Thanks for asking, but I've got it under control."
He could have said any number of things with some civility.
Now I know this will initiate all sorts of responses about how the cops don't know who their friends are, that they might feel threatened, that they may not know who's around them. All sorts of excuses. ( I'm not sure if some of them want to be friendly.) This was broad daylight. I was in slacks and a shirt. I was being pleasant. I did nothing to warrant his macho attitude and glaring stare.
I was at the meeting with the chief last week during which he mentioned wanting to find middle ground in our community. Maybe he wants to have some of his officers take a basic course in manners. That would be a start.
I had a great time celebrating the election at the Citizens for a Responsive Local Government party tonight: more about that later. Right now I want to share an interesting bicycling related interaction that I had on my way home.
The following story is made all the more interesting because of a conversation about bicycling I had at the Election Party. The person I was listening to had just returned from a visit to Europe, and she told a wonderful story about the friendliness toward bicycles in the area she visited. She told of not riding in a car for the whole duration of her stay. She said that car drivers customarily expressed an attitude and behavior of respect toward bicyclists. It sounded to me like car-drivers made a general point to give bicyclists the right of way.
Now, what a contrast that is to here in Olympia, where every time I get on my bicycle I feel like I have to fend for my life. And I worry about those cyclists amongst us who are less defensively minded. And I really strongly wish we had a safe environment to ride bikes around here.
After having a delicious cup of Sleeping Universe at SIZIZIS ($1 off tea on Tuesdays...) I stopped by the new City Hall in order to graph some photons (pictured). After that, la-dee-dah, I got on my bike and started riding East on 4th Ave toward home. I was on the left side of the street, and since I turn left off of 4th Avenue, I stayed in the left hand lane the whole way from Cherry Street until my turn-off. One-half block from where I turn off 4th (on Quince) I heard a loud voice behind me saying "Get in the bike lane." So I yelled back, "what am I supposed to do if I am turning left?"
Turns out the loud-voice was that of an Olympia Police Officer.
I was pissed. I mean I could understand it if was a private citizen. Someone just trying to give a guy a hard time - after all people do need ego reinforcement, and our society doesn't provide a whole lot of healthy ways for people to boost their self-esteem. But this was a cop.
So I stopped.
You get what you give. What goes around comes around. As the call, so is the echo. All these sayings come from traditional wisdom. That wisdom guides us in how we treat the people in our community. If we look at our own lives history often we can see this is true. Unfortunately the police are determined to seek retribution beyond what is fair. Unless we stop them, rationality and wisdom will be defeated by vengeance and abuse of power.
The Olympian states, “Physically damaging or disabling an emergency vehicle constitutes first-degree malicious mischief, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.”
Historically, challenges to power have been met with fury and retribution in orders of magnitude larger than what could be considered fair and just. One destroyed cop car is not equal to ten years in jail served by people used as scapegoats. The police officers will receive no punishment for beating and dousing the public, yet again, with pepper spray, sending one student to the hospital with bruised ribs. Instead they will receive over time pay, which will continue to increase the costs of the incident.
The police have detectives issuing subpoenas for photos and videos taken of the riot. "We will get it," said Sheriff Dan Kimball.
Finding someone to blame is a priority for the police force. Anyone who was there knows that it is impossible to fairly blame one person or even a small group of people. How many people were shouting ‘fuck the cops’? A hundred. I stood in front of the cop car, I shouted to ‘let him go’. I stood unable to stop the increasing mayhem, provoked by the police. I watched people getting angry as their friends and community members were crying from pain.