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Growing Up Part-Time Indian Revisted, Part Five

January 3, 2014

As expected, we were ordered to move. When we refused, the tanks were rolled in closer, but we gambled that they wouldn’t actually use the National Guard to fire on a group of unarmed civilians on what was essentially a foreign country, so we called their bluff. The tanks rolled backwards, and the guardsmen were ordered back. We were given another chance to surrender, and our silence gave them the only answer they were going to receive. That’s when the mercenaries–the rather unfunny group of individuals with the funny name of the Wackenhuts–were ordered forward.

The Wackenhuts are intimidating–trained paramilitaries, armed to the teeth, head to toe in desert camo. Unlike law enforcement agents, Wackenhuts are private security, so they do not need to identify themselves if asked, and they wear latex gloves to ensure they leave no finger prints on anyone they arrest. This gives them something of a license to treat those they arrest with a certain amount of roughness, as it is hard to identity “the scary looking dude in camo with an AK-47” as they describes virtually every member of a Wackenhut battalion. Still, we squeezed each other’s arms tighter, determined to keep our promise to Chester.

The Wackenhuts took several intimidating steps forward, then marched off to the sides to make room for the fire trucks. It was at that point we knew how we were going to be dealt with. We would come to find out later that the reason they had to import San Francisco firefighters is they couldn’t find any in the area willing to do their dirty work for them. I am also certain the overtime bill for the SFFD was staggering. I also hope no one in the city by the bay lost their lives in a fire that day, because the trucks had instead turned their hoses on us.

Wackenhuts: not actually this cuddly

Wackenhuts: not actually this cuddly

I had been beaten, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, but this was first experience with a fire hose. I do not recommend it. I suffered a direct hit to my sternum, and a hose sized bruise stayed there for over a week. Another protester ended up with a ruptured spleen, another was hit in the face with such force his eye popped out of his socket. The hoses pushed our line of defense out of the way in a matter of minutes, and two hundred human beings looked like the pebbles and leaves being hosed off a driveway.

After we were adequately saturated, and laying in a puddles of pain and water, then the Wackenhuts moved in to make the arrests. They were, as ever, less than gentle. They dragged people by their hair, thumped some with billy clubs (including myself–twice), elbowed others in the face as we were literally dragged off to the waiting empty school busses. Before placing us on the busses, they handcuffed with plastic zip ties. Mine was tied so tightly my wrists instantly began to bleed–and I was by no means alone.

After what seemed like hours, but was probably more like minutes, the bus was filled with protestors, sopping wet, bleeding, moaning in pain–one of us holding his eye socket inside his head with nothing but his hands. All of our pleas for medical attention were ignored as the bus finally lurched forward, on its way to incarcerate us.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2014 2:56 am

    Kevin, what you describe in these pages leaves me speechless. Why haven’t I come across such stories before? And have you ever thought of writing a script / book based on your experience? If not, I would urge you to do so. Thanks for sharing.

  2. January 8, 2014 12:08 am

    Thank you. I have thought about it, but it has been a struggle because I feel very close to these events, which has made them hard to write about in a sustained way. These posts and my talk at the university last year were the first steps. If you would like to learn more such stories like this, I would recommend three books: Rex Weyler’s “Blood of the Land,” Peter Matthiessen’s “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” and Ward Churchill’s “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” These books will show you that my story is, sadly, the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. I am grateful, as ever, for your loyal readership of my blog.

    • January 8, 2014 2:18 pm

      Thanks, Kevin, for the book recommendations. I would definitely like to read them. And as for reading your blog, the pleasure is all mine. I learn something new every time. 🙂

  3. January 9, 2014 12:51 am

    Thank so much! Your blog has taught me a great deal as well. 🙂

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