We here at Agent sLp inc. are in somewhat of an existential crisis at the moment, as we desperately refresh Twitter and Facebook to see if people we know to be, I say this kindly, reckless and full of righteous indignation, have checked in recently, (hang on a mo- nope) during the widespread, beyond the pale (and we thought we’d already seen beyond the pale) protests surrounding the death of this kid, Berkin Elvan.
NYT has counted the people who gathered for his funeral by the thousands, again, but aerial photographs look like hundreds of thousands if not well over a million to me, an admittedly unprofessional people counter who has nevertheless been in Taksim with two million people on several Bir Mayises and therefore seen what a crowd that size looks like.
Even though it was not my country or my fight, I confess I felt chills the first Bir Mayıs I went to in Taksim- four years ago. It was the one of the first allowed in the country under the AKP government, and while I understood pretty much precisely jack-shit nothing of the proceedings, (some of which were in Kurdish, another revolution for another day) awed me. The hope and solidarity in the air that day was palpable. Towards the end of the day someone got on stage and read out the names of the people who’d died in Taksim square in 1977, and after every name the crowd of two million people all shouted “HERE!” and though I did not yet know what had happened in Taksim in 1977, I have never been so moved. I was honored to be there, honored to be included and overwhelmed by the emotion of the day. It struck me hard how full-force goddamned for granted I’d taken my right to assemble for a full 30 years of my life when I saw people crying at the privilege (no! RIGHT!) having been reinstated.
Berkin Elvan- you are here. You are in Germany, Greece, Russia, Venezuela, England and America (at LEAST) in posters, lit candles, and tweets. Millions of people, ranging in age from old crones to toddlers, gathered all over Turkey to mourn your passing. When you passed, people even put bread on the GROUND for you, and you know how seriously bread is taken in Turkey. In Ankara and Istanbul- possibly Izmir as well, reports are still trickling in to me- police have turned violent towards the crowds, who were assembling to mourn the passing of you, who was killed by police violence.
You see how this can make a brain a little mushy a/o cause twitching.
The police are beating up people who are protesting the death of a young boy that they, the police, killed.
There are probably a hundred ways to say this in English.
None of them make sense.
Here’s another: TOMAS being driven into crowds in Osmanbey full-tilt.
Police illegally entering universities and filling them with gaz.
Police firing gaz canisters at people from only a meter away.
Aerial views of parts of Istanbul so choked with gaz that whole blocks and major architectural elements are completely obscured.
Bleeding simitçi. (What, in this world, is less offensive than a nice, middle aged simit seller?)
And it begs a question: do the Turkish riot police still hang on to shreds of notions that they are decent people, or have they given that up entirely?
Do they look at themselves in the morning and say, “I am on the right side of history! The side that makes a lot of people cry!” Or do they just go, “Meh, fuck it. Off to turn non-lethal weapons into lethal ones!”
I’ve always prided myself in being able to see two sides of a coin, but I can’t fathom a lot of things about the behavior of the cops in the various Gezi-started protests: chemicals in water cannons, tear gaz in enclosed places, children separated from their parents, people beaten to death, a child gone, and his mama no doubt at home right now, crying. Because of you, riot cops, and because of you, the people who stand by and do nothing.
This is not honorable. This is the absolute opposite of honorable service. This is attacking what you’re meant to protect. I lived among you riot cops for five days in jail and I still just don’t get it. At all.
YOUR UNIFORMS EVEN LOOK EVIL! I mean c’mon! You’re the storm troopers, dudes, not Hans Solo or whoever! You surely, somewhere, must know you’re not the good guys?
If yesterday’s word was FUCK screamed over and over again, today’s is a sad, teary “Morally Reprehensible” said in a low voice over and over again as we click refresh on our twitter and facebook accounts, taking mental attendance of our friends who are out there, somewhere, in the clouds of tear gas.
For further depression: