Seeking Perspective, Participation and Peace at 9318ft
When there’s 400 residents in your town and almost one hundred of your neighbors decide to gather, it feels like a big crowd.
“I really just want to lay low” I said. “I’m trying to be pretty apolitical in my day to day.”
“I can respect that” she said. “If you don’t support the cause, then stay home”
“It’s not that I don’t support the cause- I’m just not sure marching is the best use of me?”
“I get it, Ack. You do you-Whatever you do, be safe.”
I hung up the phone. I watched the steadily swelling group assembling at the visitor center across the street. I saw friends and acquaintances with signs, and kids and dogs and bikes in tow. There’s a woman on a bull horn sharing what this march was to be about and the logistics for the Silverton BLM/Peace marches’ progress thru town. I watched this all from my front porch.
I am a firm believer in action. Save your dribble-show me with your actions. Talk is cheap as they say….I have so much love and respect for anyone putting their neck out. I cherish the freedom to do this in the US- although those freedoms are under attack. We’ve just been released from our homes and given the chance to pipe up.
Unquestionably, it’s been a tense time in the USA
Volatility fear and uncertainty pervade all aspects of daily life.
The powder keg that is an anxious populous, kept in quarantine at home, hiding from the vid, exploded onto the streets this past week in major cities around the country. The spark was the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent combustion that followed has been fueled by decades of frustration and anger concerning police brutality, abuse of power, inequities in the treatment of minorities and the ongoing protection and maintenance of a corrupt system.
The problem is real.
And it was only a matter of time before an event would go down here.
And by here I mean in this little mountain hamlet at 9,318 feet above sea level.
And although I’m in 100% in support of liberty, freedom of assembly and systemic reform of the corrupt blue line, leading up to tip off, I was still struggling to see the relevance of this march in Silverton. I get solidarity, but shouting- “who’s streets/our streets” in a town with only one paved thoroughfare seems more social parroting than social revolt
Who streets? Our streets!
Okay then, can we get some more asphalt poured?
Additionally, the script seems old and tired. I have enjoyed some awesome dialogue lately with close friends over this new wave of protest and attempts to bring about true reform.
“It’s all about getting numbers out there”
“We gotta have bodies in the streets”
“Gotta show them we have the numbers”
“if you’re going to lead, you gotta bleed”
Yes, I understand that sentiment- but I also feel that these mass gatherings are becoming somewhat an antiquated, predictable, less than effective approach. The mass assemblage of people in protest has been a powerful tool to incite change throughout the 20th century. From women’s’ suffrage to civil rights, from pride to occupy- change has come about when a critical mass of courageous folks have stood up for what’s right.
But it’s 2020.
Is there not a better, more 21st century approach to making shit happen?
For me, there’s too many layers to a public protest nowadays.
And these recent marches, which continue in our nation’s population centers, are not just gatherings of peaceful hippies.
You got cops and protesters of all stripes- the good, bad and ugly
You got people watching in support- you got anti-protestors too
In some places you have the guard dispatched with the police
(And according to my close active duty and guard friends, they cannot believe they have been dispatched in support of these un-fit ass clowns)
You’ve got looters and looky loos
You have counter insurgents and agent provocateurs.
You have crisis actors and undercovers.
Everyone holds up a phone and records.
Your filmed from above and below.
There are weapons and unchecked aggression on both sides.
Bad people on all sides if you will....
There’re dudes looking for a fight
There are those whom never felt what it’s like to be beat down
And there’s veterans of beat downs looking to pay it forward.
And on and on and on…..these marches can often turn chaotic, tense and uncontrollable.
It’s a loud, complex and highly charged environment
So why would a guy who makes his living focused on hazard assessment and risk management stick his neck out in such a dynamic and fluid ecosystem? And if I’m prepping for a showdown, why expose yourself and your resources?
In uncontrollable environs, control what you can control- which is yourself.
I can control whether or not I put myself in a compromised, exposed and high consequence position.
So it’s hard for me nowadays to want to be in a big crowd, on display with rising energies and tensions. Giving up the high ground and being part of a much greater animal…I much rather prefer the STFU and keep yo head down approach. It keeps me in the fight longer.
After hanging up the phone, I was pretty sure I wasn’t marching.
But I wished there was a way to show solidarity- to help support friends and neighbors on our collective mission of reform.
A plan comes together-
I’ll just grab my bike and go cheer em’ on downtown- was my thinking. Selfishly, there were folks that I haven’t seen all spring and wanted to say hi to my recently emerged from quarantined neighbors. I also wanted to participate in some way. Even if it’s quietly from the sidelines.
As I pumped up my chronically flat rear fat bike tire, I watch the march roll out from the visitor center and hit Greene St.
Sherriff Conrad was up front, all stars and bars leading the march, but what I saw in the rear of the procession freaked me out.
Many families, kids and those wishing to march in silent reflection were choosing to hang off the back of the group-dig it, that’s where I like to chill.
BUT, because we had no sweep vehicle-no deputy with lights on in the back, you essentially had people walking down main street and no one covering their six. I watched as numerous, out of town vehicles rolled into town super-hot, only to slam on brakes when the drivers realized there’s a 100 people in the street.
I watched this happen a few times and was like- fuck, this is bad.
This is how I can show up.
I threw on my muck boots-turned on all my blinky safety lights and raced out onto Greene st. not far behind the end of the march. I biked past a line of cars that had now stacked up behind those walking. And like so many Durango bike parades and critical mass bike rides in my days gone past, I settled into the rear of the procession and took up the sweep position in front of all the cars.
Some of the motorists (all tourists and Texans) patiently followed us down Greene street.
I made sure to swing wide on each pedal stroke of my bike so that motorists could clearly see I was creating sacred space for those marching- my biking articulated: this is the bubble. Don’t fuck with these folks.
A few assholes swerved back and forth and turned onto side streets to speed around the march when possible- Just before hitting the meat of the business district, a mini-van rolled up behind me. I glanced over my right shoulder- noted the color (maroon), CA plates and threw the driver a peace sign. Instead of going around the march on secondary streets, the driver had tucked in behind the march and seemed content rolling 5mph or less thru town.
At about this time, Ian came back to check in with me. He had helped organize the march and I shared my concerns about the gathering’s exposure in the back. He agreed, and I let him know I’d stay posted up, running sweep for the entire trip to Memorial Park- the ultimate end point and vigil location for this event.
Silverton Peace March Footy-
The crowd continued to walk down main street. It was powerful to observe. Participants were using this experience to be heard, to heal and to try and make meaning out of how far we've all fallen. And these folks were doing it with each other- reaching out to their neighbors for clarity and counsel. The old and the young. Miners and hippies. Cowboys and bro brahs. Silverton fucking strong.
I no longer felt disconnected to this march- I had found my purpose in it all and I was honored to have found a way to participate.
With less than a quarter mile to go, the procession hit the street in front of the Carriage house (EMS) and the fire station. In front of both buildings is a large cement pad that fire trucks and ambulances are often pulled out on for washing, staging, etc…This area does open up and it created limited space on the right flank of the marchers- but that space quickly disappears to the north of these buildings- as the street narrows over the Cement Creek bridge and the sidewalks on both sides of the street disappear. Picture a big wide area of the street that funnels into a two-lane choke point over a swollen creek.
I’ve been a bike commuter, mtber and bikepacker for years. I am always concerned about cycling in traffic but not afraid to do it. You develop a sixth sense and you assume every driver is an inattentive asshole. To this end, I’ve fostered and refined my situational awareness and I try to anticipate and proactively defend myself when rolling pavement.
So not surprisingly, I felt him there before I saw him
Yes, the minivan- I felt the closeness of a vehicle off my rear tire. I glanced down to see dude’s bumper now equal to my right foot in my peripheral. I quickly did the math- why was he drifting right and now parallel to me? Answer- he’s going to try to pass the march on the right! jesus…..
As the light bulb went off I looked forward. Parents and kiddos had dropped to the very rear of the procession because they were tired from marching all the way down Greene. I observed a mom, spot the minivan moving, and immediately do one of those mom swoops to snatch up her kiddo. The look on that woman’s face was one of terror.
All I could think was oh fuck no- so I just kept moving with the mini-man, trying to block him from forward progress and pushing him further right with my trajectory- Simply put- mother fucker was going to have to run me over first.
Here's alink to DeAnne Gallegos' videos and pics from yesterday. At the end of both vid clips, you can see this knuckle head running sweep. In vid two, moments before the incident below, you can see the mini van in question behind me....
It all happened quickly:
He accelerated- I accelerated.
He stopped- I stopped.
I looked to see what his next move in the cab would be-
Watch him for weapons- watch the passenger- what’s this shit stains next move?
At this point, two ATVs saw what was happening and sped up to assist. They posted up behind him-took vid and pics of the exchange. The mini-van passenger got out of the car, shes not a factor> I look ahead at the march just as the dude hits the gas again. I turned my front wheel into his rig, my fat bike goes under his plastic bumper, chocks his wheel and I hand check my bars and the bike hits the pavement.
Calculate a new plan for engagement.
Observe the environment- don’t tunnel vision!
I step back.
I looked at him with laser eyes through the windshield- he rolls down the window- swearing violently at me.
His passenger repeatedly stated- “he’s sorry, he doesn’t know”
"It's ok. You're all good" I told her
I kept my cool and said nothing to him. By now, Ian had dropped back to me.
“Are we cool?” he asked “Get Bruce” I replied.
I held my ground, bike under his front bumper and saw the Sherriff’s gray pick up bang an aggressive U turn from the point position at the head of the march. I turned back to the driver- all 500 pounds of him- and calmly said- “Where do you think you’re going? There’s kids in front of you”
His verbal tirade crescendos. I try (unsuccessfully) not to internally attack his obesity, his much younger Asian passenger, his CA plates, his choice of vehicle or the conspicuous nasal canula he was rocking. I just settled into a happier thought- I could kill this piece of shit easily if needed.Chill dude- this shit's a peace march-don't make a move bud. I'm in condtion red.
Bruce pulled up. I pulled my bike out from under the minivan. He watched the driver yell at me and flip me off. I coasted over to him- said that’s your guy and pedaled ahead to re-assume the sweep position. I checked in with the ATV kids to make sure I wasn’t dreaming- “That just happened, right?”
“Total douche bag” the quad driver replied.
The mini man then tried to speed away from Bruce, but jonny law quickly caught and rang that fucker up- I hope he got ticketed. I didn’t hang out to see the result. Adrenaline is a dangerous drug.
At the park, a candlelight vigil would provide a capstone for the afternoons experience.
It had been a wild 30 minutes and I appreciate the chance to reflect, re-center and bear witness to this beautiful gathering.
And that’s the thing- it wasn’t blue or red. It wasn’t pro cop or Antifa. It wasn’t BLM vs. the KKK.
It was a community coming together in support of peace. Grant it, the march has some un peaceful like moments - but the real gift of participating in yesterday’s march was unwrapped at the Gazebo.
I watched my neighbors each find a way to reflect and hold sacred space in remembrance of George Floyd.
We stood for 8+ minutes- in honor of the gross amount of time that officer’s knee was placed upon the victim’s neck- This is probably what hit me hardest.
As the rain fell and the thunder rumbled. We held George Floyds death in our hearts. And 8+ minutes never felt so long. I felt the tears start to well up in my eyes. I looked skyward and embraced the rains renewal upon my face. I cannot believe that that man endured that punishment for so long. It is unforgivable.
A wild afternoon for sure- Our silence ended a with large thunder boom- very fitting indeed.
As the sky opened up, I took one last gander around the park. I love this town. I love our solidarity, care and concern for each other . And I love that I found a way to be involved and show up for my community.
The conversations and reflections shall continue.
Stay safe everyone.
Some things I’ve been thinking about this week:
This dude's twitter is a daily highlight real of police beatings- good stuff
Greg is the fucking man!
hear Greg talk more on CLEARED HOT PODCAST:
Killer Mike "this video represents the futile and exhausting existence of a purgatory-like law enforcement system. There is no neat solution at the end because there is no neat solution in the real world.
More relevant now than ever....
Solid Reddit Comment in r/preppers
252 points · 10 hours ago
Everyone in here seems worried about riots, and yes those are bad, but I think people are neglecting to look at the US government and what has occurred.
A congresswoman was maced and arrested. A SENATOR went and ID'd himself to cops, wore his ID, and a bright neon green vest and stood with nonviolent protestors... And he got maced and arrested.
The president surrounded the white house with military, and said that he would deploy military to cities that refuse to take action, whether they like it or not.
These are not things that happen with a stable and healthy government.
Sure, there will be riots... But I think they will be consequences of potentially much worse things occurring right now. Look at how they've treated people practicing the FIRST amendment. Reporters are getting arrested. This is not the freedom and peace loving USA you grew up hearing about.
I'm trying to keep this as apolitical as possible and just drop facts, because I know how politically charged this whole thing is... But an unstable government is inherently a politically charged event. You all seem to be worried about some looting and broken windows of small businesses... Are you not concerned about what you're seeing happening at the government level?