Taken from an internet post written on 1/26/2011 by Cole:
Yesterday the Memphis police, accompanied by six heavily-armed SWAT units, surrounded First Congo Church. Inside, a small group of folks were meeting for the first anniversary of FBI raids against the homes and offices of anti-war activists in Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois. Meanwhile, Memphis police entered an activist’s home and the DeCleyre Cooperative with guns drawn and arrest warrants for two people who had failed to appear in traffic court. I’ve cooperated with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center on and off since the beginning of the Iraq War. It is an organization dedicated to providing a voice for people and causes that otherwise wouldn’t have one. Its offices are in a church whose mission is directed towards equality, environmental awareness, helping the poor and homeless, and promoting non-violence.
A gun does not need to be fired for it to be violent. The presence of weapons and the looming threat of violence can be more effective than the actual use of force. Of course the heavily armed police units that surrounded the Peace and Justice Center did not have the intention of storming the building. Instead, they were there to intimidate, not only the folks who attended the meeting, but anyone else that has an opinion contrary to the Democrat-Republican regime’s line.
The Obama administration picked up the torch left by the Bush administration and has done little to reverse its policies – including the perpetuation of unconstitutional arrests, detentions, and surveillance. The Constitution has a long way to go before it even nominally protects and empowers the people it needs to, but those Constitutional rights that have historically been protected, at least since the 1960’s, are quickly evaporating.
The victims of last night’s attack are all close friends of mine. A house I used to live in was invaded as was a comrade’s home. A friend who, like thousands of other Memphians, had failed to appear in traffic court was used as an excuse for police to wave their little pistols around a community house. Whether or not the police had the legal authority to perpetrate any of yesterday’s events, I do not like seeing friends, or anyone for that matter, bullied or threatened.
For all of us, what happened yesterday is terrifying. For some folks, fear and feelings of isolation will be tough to shake, but for others, yesterday produced an opposite effect of law enforcement’s intent. It brought people together with an awakened fervor and more concrete resolution which will undoubtedly continue. We should be energized knowing that the small number of folks here who have had the courage to speak out against oppression and violence have become important enough to compel law enforcement to attempt such an embarrassing and impotent spectacle. If yesterday was intended to silence opposition and remind us to stay within the boundaries of the two-party regime’s line, it has certainly backfired.