Stepping into a Warzone

I guess I made a big mistake when I unsubscribed to Occupy Seattle’s posts on facebook. Without the constant barrage of information they had been throwing me, I found myself stepping off a bus into a riot yesterday, completely unwittingly.

Camera crews rolled on as things escalated. I saw more police officers wielding batons than I’ve ever seen.

For those of you who don’t know, Seattle was ravaged a bit on May Day (yesterday) by something of a horde. I was asked if they were Occupy Seattle protesters, to which I didn’t know how to respond. I saw ninjas, I saw a group in sombreros, and I saw a group of hipsters before finally fleeing.

I think The Warriors must have come to town, or something.

Streets were shut down and there were crowds of people… all I wanted was to get to the other side to get a chai tea!

Normally, I wouldn’t bring it up… but I know that it is our class system that is at the heart of all of this. This same system is something in America that can be seen not only in income, but in the treatment of mental health as well.

I don’t want to get on a long rant here, but in Seattle alone there is a huge discrepancy in the amount of people seeking care for mental health and the availability of both psychiatrists and therapists in the area. The people with the least amount of money (or luck, as it is sometimes a bit like a lottery) fall out the bottom. It often feels a lot like a bidding war, and that’s where those in the upper classes have a huge advantage.

I know that isn’t the point of these riots, but healthcare is certainly part of what makes the gap feel so large. And I always feel frightfully aware of where I stand in regard to where healthcare is and is not available in this city. Things like 6 month wait-lists can seem devastating to someone who is at risk for immediate suicide.

On top of that, we have a very large population of homeless people with mental illness in Seattle. If I were to say that these people are never involved in these sorts of riots, I’d be lying to you.

The tension on the streets yesterday was palpable, but somehow my fear was minimal. I became struck with an odd fascination and curiosity (which, I admit, has led me to trouble in the past) so I tried not to linger for too long.

They smashed up a pretty good number of things, and based on the list I don’t know if I’d say that these targets weren’t random. Nordstom and Starbucks, afterall, are local establishments… even if they are big corporate ones.

Do I think these rioters will accomplish anything by smashing up downtown? Probably nothing tangible. To me, though, these actions do act as something of a gauge of people’s unhappiness with the current system.

Based on what I saw yesterday, they’re unhappy. 

5 responses to “Stepping into a Warzone

  1. Glad you are OK!

    This makes me mad & sad all at the same time. I’ve been away for close to a year but I still consider Seattle home.

    Hope you and Luna are well, V

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Thanks, and all is generally well on the Western front. I’m sure it wouldn’t be Seattle without hoodlums!

      Take care!

  2. I’m with ManicMuses & glad you’re OK.

    The irony of this line made me laugh “…all I wanted was to get to the other side to get a chai tea!”

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      To be fair, of the hundred-some coffee shops in Seattle, there really are only like one or two that have a decent chai.

      Thanks 🙂

  3. I’ll try to keep my political rant at bay (I’m just a radical at heart!), but your point about healthcare is something I deal with all the time. I call it “poor people medicine” and “rich people medicine”. I go to a clinic and have finally been approved for some form of state insurance, but I talk to friends who have some similar health issues and the level of care is so starkly different!

    And since I can’t depend on a doctor to give me care, I know I need to be more educated and that is a bit overwhelming. Still trolling through your helpful links!

    Thanks for the update! Out here in the boonies of Appalachia without cable it is difficult to feel connected to any sort of movement, poorly articulated or otherwise.

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