Martyred iPhone

In mid-spring 2014, as Seattle basked in an unusually sunny and warm spring, I was persuaded (cajoled more like it) by a friend to head downtown and witness firsthand the annual fracas known as the Seattle May Day parade/protests.  It was the 1st of May and the time when Seattleites take to the streets to flex their protester muscles and exercise their right to free speech.  This yearly exercise of free speech usually begins with an honest attempt to petition fellow citizens to rally against the injustices of the day.  It then dovetails into a platform for disaffected members of various groups with axes to grind to sling their backpacks over their shoulders (Seattleites are loathe to leave home without one), cover their faces to hide identities (and defend against the effects of tear gas and future prosecution) and take to the streets.  They then transform from your standard issue, hyper-polite Puget Sounder into disciples of anarchy.

My friend made the case that I should unleash myself from my desk and office and join him to see the action from the ground instead of just engaging in a head shaking session while viewing it all on TV.  Against my better judgment but spurred by curiosity I heeded his suggestion and headed to the epicenter of the action.  There we got a birds-eye view from a vantage point located at the intersection of 4th and Pine streets where lies the downtown core’s centrally located Westlake Park.  There the event changed from a peaceful march of labor organizers, civil rights leaders and immigrant rights activists into a mano e mano clash between the Guy Fawkes masked oppressed and the tear gas and baton wielding symbol of ‘the man’ – the local gendarmerie.

At first blush, this turning point seemed more awkward than orchestrated.  It initially played out like a Jets versus the Sharks gang fight that everybody showed up to but nobody quite knew what to do once they got there.  The stage of demonstration became a theater of the absurd.  After waiting, it seemed, for some imaginary whistle to blow to signify that it was time to get the protest mojo going, the first few fist pumpers made their initial foray towards the authorities –all-black uniformed police officers, ready to keep the peace with those famed tools of peace-keeping: tear gas, pepper spray and exploding concussion bags.  The all-black garbed and anonymously guised defenders of chaos began to shove up against one of the bicycle mounted members of the SPD.  (It’s funny to think that at an occasion geared towards celebrating non-conformity everybody was dressed in black.  Seattle does know how to maintain their famed and favorite fashion motif at all costs.) 

One officer whose bike was being targeted for victimization by a protester moved into a defensive position seeking to quell the attempt.  He leaned forward and offered up a slight running back stiff arm to the attempted tipper.  Although this caused no personal harm nor foul to the masked challenger to power, it did unfortunately victimize the iPhone clutched in his unrepentant fist.  As it hurtled towards the ground a collective gasp was let loose from the crowd. And there it lay.  The first downed solider from the army of resistance to capitalism.  Its cracked face and lifeless plastic body stared back at its now grief stricken comrade and owner.  Yet another example of the powers that be willing to brazenly sacrifice a 6.77 ounce of plastic formed by Chinese factory workers making far less than the highly debated minimum wage levels also referenced earlier in the day’s proceedings.  (I wondered to myself if any of those folks got a nod of recognition during the day?)  It was only moments after this initial casualty that the said outraged (and now phoneless) revolutionary cried, “Did you see what those fucking cops did?!?  They just trashed a $600 iPhone!!”  Oh, the price of rebellion.

In mid-spring 2014, as Seattle basked in an unusually sunny and warm spring, I was persuaded (cajoled more like it) by a friend to head downtown and witness firsthand the annual fracas known as the Seattle May Day parade/protests.  It was the 1st of May and the time when Seattleites take to the streets to flex their protestation muscles and exercise their right to free speech.  This yearly exercise of free speech usually begins with an honest attempt to petition fellow citizens to rally against the injustices of the day.  It then dovetails into a platform for disaffected members of various groups with axes to grind to sling their backpacks over their shoulders (Seattleites are loathe to leave home without one), cover their faces to hide identities (and defend against the effects of tear gas and future prosecution) and take to the streets transforming from your standard issue, hyper-polite Puget Sounder into disciples of anarchy.

My friend made the case to unleash myself from my desk and office and join him to see the action from the ground instead of just engaging in a head shaking session while viewing it all on TV.  Against my better judgment but spurred by curiosity I heeded his suggestion and headed to the epicenter of the action.  There we got a birds-eye view from a vantage point located at the intersection of 4th and Pine streets where lies the downtown core’s centrally located Westlake Park.  It was at this crossroads where there was a planned divergence from a peaceful march of labor organizers, civil rights leaders and immigrant rights activists into a more mano e mano clash between the Guy Fawkes masked oppressed and the tear gas and baton wielding symbol of ‘the man’ – the local gendarmerie.

At first blush, this turning point seemed more awkward than orchestrated.  It initially played out like a Jets versus the Sharks gang fight that everybody showed up to but nobody quite knew what to do once they got there.  It was at this point where the stage of demonstration become a bit of a theater of the absurd.  After waiting, it seemed, for some imaginary whistle to blow to signify that it was time to get the protest mojo going, the first few fist pumpers made their initial foray towards challenging authority – represented by the line of all-black uniformed police officers, ready to keep the peace with those famed tools of peace-keeping: tear gas, pepper spray and exploding concussion bags.  The all-black garbed and anonymously guised defenders of chaos (it’s funny to think that at an occasion geared towards celebrating non-conformity everybody was dressed in black.  Seattle does know how to maintain their famed and favorite fashion motif at all costs) began to shove up against one of the bicycle mounted members of the SPD.  In defense and seeking to quell the attempt to knock over a row of bicycle mounted policemen, the officer whose bike was itself being made the victim of oppression leaned forward and offered up a slight running back stiff arm to the attempted tipper.  Although this caused no personal harm nor foul to the masked challenger to power, it did unfortunately victimize the iPhone clutched in his unrepentant fist.  As it hurtled towards the ground a collective gasp was let loose from the crowd. And there it lay.  The first downed solider from the army of resistance to capitalism.  Its cracked face and lifeless plastic body stared back at its now grief stricken comrade and owner.  Yet another example of the powers that be willing to brazenly sacrifice a 6.77 ounce of plastic formed by Chinese factory workers making far less than the highly debated minimum wage levels also referenced earlier in the day’s proceedings.  (I wondered to myself if any of those folks got a nod of recognition during the day?)  It was only moments after the sad reality of this initial casualty of this now engaged battle sunk in that the said outraged (and now phoneless) revolutionary cried, “Did you see what those fucking cops did?!?  They just trashed a $600 iPhone!!”  Oh, the price of rebellion.

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