Z-anon-sensei Speaks #79
“In his experience, unusual minority social groups with lots of guns tended to get mashed rapidly underfoot by nervous, trigger-happy government SWAT teams.” Bruce Sterling
The Portland protests have morphed since the ^goonies all withdrew into the shadows of the federal building and the hallways of the Marriott Hotel which they are still renting at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayers to house160 DHS agents and assorted contract employees known informally as “mercenary killers”. Even the State Police left town in a huff, when the Governor ordered them not to beat on people and limit their use of UN-banned CS gas to “whenever they felt like it”. And the DA wasn’t even prosecuting most of their false arrests. So OSP just split. “No guns, no fun” they chanted as they walked away from their jobs. After all, cops gotta right to protest, too. So it’s all PPB now. And the Federal building isn’t the focal point of the protesters, anymore.
No longer a fixed siege, the nightly contests have become a series of running street battles, a moving campaign of mock urban warfare. (Mock only in the sense that live ammunition is not yet in play.) Smaller groups of young people— numbering hundreds rather than the thousands who rose up against the ^goonies— gather at police precincts and in front of the luxury lounges known in PPB vernacular as “Police Association Offices”. The police have taken up mobile tactics to match the new situation on the ground. They mount maybe twenty cops onto a van specially equipped with running-boards welded around the outside of the vehicle. When the cops are all mounted, these vans look an awful lot like the crowded buses in the Andes regions of South America, where Radio had traveled many years before, though without the chickens and colorful clothing— police officers loaded with weapons and riot gear crammed together as closely as they can fit, hanging on to railings as the vans accelerate to catch up to the recently gassed and clubbed protesters already re-grouping on the next block.
By law, the police must declare an “unlawful assembly” if they want to violate the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. It’s a boring formality. Just to keep themselves interested, the police have hired a sports stadium announcer (out of work since the Covid) to man the LRAD loudspeaker. “Are you rea-ea-dy to ru-u-mble?” echoes through the streets. “This protest has been arbitrarily designated an illegal assembly. And now we get to kick some ass!” His excitement is palpable. Neighborhood residents rush out onto lawns and front porches to watch the night’s action, sometimes taking a rubber bullet or a tear gas bomb in the process but so it goes. Strobe lights and blue/red police flashers illuminate the dark streets of Portland with a nightmarish quality, erratically reflected by the drifting clouds of smoke and tear gas. Chants of “Whose streets, our streets, go home and beat your meat!” are broken up by screams of pain and cries of “medic” from wounded protesters. The teenagers with their wooden shields and bicycle helmets stand up against military force and are driven back time and again. But the damn kids have learned persistence from the VietCong. It’s their home turf. And it’s kinda fun, really, like a live-action video game— except the pain is real. They scatter and duck through yards and alleys, reappearing at the next designated gathering place, taking over another intersection, starting another dumpster on fire. The cops live out in the suburbs in gated and semi-gated neighborhoods and don’t know their way around the city that well. They stick mostly to the streets, though occasionally a group of them will hide behind the bushes in some poor old lady’s yard, scaring hell out of her and her kitten when she steps outside to see what’s all the ruckus. “Go inside or you will be subject to arrest and brute force,” one of the cops yells at her. “But it’s my porch…” she starts to answer. Before she can finish she’s taken down by none other than Fatuo Asole himself, dressed for the night in PPB blue and earning double-time, too, since it’s after midnight. The old bag is barely worth groping, so Asole stands back up quickly and lets someone else toss the zip-cuffs on her. He heads back to the street, where the police are actually running, now (Asole hates that part) in a long line while the stadium announcer’s voice directs the fleeing protesters “Move west along Alberta. Anyone unable to run as fast as our best police sprinters will be subject to violent response including but not limited to brutal clubbing, slightly-less-lethal munitions, and the use of poisonous gasses at our discretion.”
The protesters are mostly younger and in better shape than the cops, though, and get away easily, but with each charge a few stumble or are overcome by gas so that Asole, (lagging behind the front line and panting pretty hard inside his gas mask) has a chance to stop and take whacks on them as he goes past. Catch his breath a little. One of the live-streamers (who follow in a pack along at the edge of the action) shouts out, “Why doesn’t that officer have a badge number? What is his name?” So Asole can’t stay in one place long. He drifts across the street and slashes the tires of a couple of vehicles before the white van pulls up to the line of cops, and he hops back on to the sideboards with the rest. And off they go to the next encounter. Fatuo Asole pulls off his gas mask. He really likes the feeling of summer night air— tinged with pepper spray and CS and fear-sweat— blowing across his face. He never wears a stupid Covid mask, though he has to carry one in his pocket when he’s with PPB. This is really the life, he thinks, though he does miss some of the more rigorous action he’d seen in the past. Rumor mill in the hallways of the Marriott seem to think that more options would be opening up soon, maybe even some live fire opportunities. So he just hangs in and hangs on to the railing of the van and enjoys these warmups with PPB. For now.