Last week was my worst nightmare. Everywhere I went throughout downtown Seattle I was overwhelmed by what I saw, unable to assimilate the images, unable to collect them into a coherent whole in my mind.
There was just too much comedy. I am suffering from comedy overload.
It isn't right. My job here is to find the comedy in our city as it relates to homelessness, to point it out, maybe wax poetical about it. Not that comedy isn't poetry already, and vice versa, for example: take my sonnets -- please!
But there was just too much of it last week. Where do I start? How do I put it into order?
Well, lessee, I could maybe quote Scripture. How about we begin with Leviticus 4:22 -- "When a ruler sins... once the sin that he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a male goat without blemish." That's a male goat, Mayor!
And is it not also written, "Thou shalt punish thy subjects for their transgressions, surely, but thou shalt not punish them for merely flinching from thy rod, or for covering their faces, yea even with gas masks." Of course not, but it's definitely in line with the general message.
First the city of Seattle willingly, voluntarily, invites an internationally despised organisation to have a conference downtown, knowing that as many as a hundred thousand people would show up from around the world just to complain about it, and knowing that just the presence of all those people would bring about the practical end of downtown bus service, even without protests.
Then they insure that downtown bus service would be useless by roping off a fifty block section of said downtown.
Then, after prohibiting protests specifically in that fifty block section, the city decides, what the hell, lets chase them around the rest of downtown and tear gas them any old place.
This while yours truly and a few tens of thousands other citizens are having to make their way across town on foot, because, as I have by now made amply clear, the city has guaranteed that the busses wouldn't be able to get us where we needed to go.
And Schell said I couldn't use a gas mask to take that walk. Excuse me?
I'm surprised he didn't make an emergency decree banning the use of athletic cups. Didn't our cops have an emergency need to control crowds with groin kicks?
But it gets funnier! Not only does Schell ban the use of gas masks, he even bans the sale of gas masks!
After all, free trade is a wonderful thing, isn't it, but some people just cross the line, go beyond the pale, I mean, really, selling people something to use for their self-defense! Simply outrageous!
Meanwhile, anyone who so wanted could buy knives, razor blades, gasoline for Molotov cocktails, bottles to put it in of course, chains, lead pipes, whips, pepper spray, etc., no waiting, at hardware stores, pawnshops, and gas stations throughout the city.
OK, some of the protestors were guilty of destroying property. But guess what, Schell -- I wasn't one of the protestors and I didn't destroy anybody's precious property! So back off, Frenchy!!
What the police said about non-violent protestors and innocent bystanders downtown who got clubbed, gassed, shot at at point-blank range with rubber bullets and kicked: "If they didn't like it they shouldn't have been there."
What I have to say to those police, who after they invaded Broadway and fired off tear-gas, found themselves surrounded by hoards of angered residents and the squad cars they were in threatened with being tipped over, "If you didn't like it you shouldn't have been there."
Focus. focus, focus. I digress. So what does all this have to do with homelessness, you ask? Well, if you're homeless, what the police did to Seattle the first week of this month, they do to you all year round.
"Keep moving. No sitting. If you remain here you will be arrested... "
Adventures in Poetry Columns
© Dr. Wes Browning's
The Great Speckled Bird Columns on Homelessness