The most important word of 2016: “Downticket”

In case you’re not familiar, “Down Ticket Races” are described by as follows:

These are political races that are not at the highest level possible. For example, a congressional race would be considered a down ticket race if there was also a presidential race. If the mayor was being decided, then a city council seat would be a down ticket race.

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On Safe Spaces and the Right to Feel Comfortable

According to The Safe Space Network, this is the definition of a “safe space”:

A Safe Space is a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.

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2015: A Year of Change and Disruption

Nobody knows when it began, but it was first acknowledged broadly in 2011 with the Occupy Wall Street movement.  In 2012, it was Fast Food Forward and the Fight for 15.  In 2013, it was Walmart Strikers and the election of Kshama Sawant to Seattle City Council.  Ferguson dominated 2014, and it looks like Leelah Alcorn has claimed early 2015.

Of course, I’m leaving out dozens, if not hundreds, of catalysts for the steady increase in American protests and simply focusing on some of the more popular milestones.  The real point is that we’re taking to the streets in numbers not seen since Vietnam and the peak of the Civil Rights movement.  Hundreds of thousands of protests, not just in the United States but across the world, calling out struggle and demanding something better in the United States.

Those who’ve stood up have been those most strongly affected by struggles:  People of color, women, trans* people, the working poor, etc.  They’ve created grassroots movements to demand general or specific changes in our culture, in our laws, in our institutions, and they are feeling more empowered than ever… not because they’re finding a receptive society, but because they’re realizing that they are loud enough to overpower a defiant society.

Reactionaries abound.  Last year was the year of #NotAllMen, the year of “thugs,” the year of GamerGate.  Protesters were “rioters.”  Statistics were “race baiting.”  Demands for accountability were met with demands to “respect and obey authority.”  The all-too-familiar refrain of “get a job” rang through the sidestreets as protesters blocked the main road in an effort to disrupt a broken country.

What do they want?  They aren’t looking to bring back slavery or send women back to the kitchen.  Reactionaries aren’t necessarily against our causes, but their desire to remain comfortable is threatened by the disruption and challenges to authority that our movement requires to live and succeed.  They’re afraid that the status quo will be destroyed and that their lives could be thrown into a state of disarray.  They fear general strikes shutting down commerce, mass protests shutting down the road to the grocery store when the cabinets are empty, civil disobedience resulting in National Guardsmen firing shots like they did at Kent State.  They fear the discomfort of a revolutionary society, and it’s a learned fear that will be hard to overcome.

What do we want?  We want to fix the problems no matter what it takes to get there.  With that in mind, here’s my 2015 open letter to my friends and family who fear the discomfort of a revolution:

Dear Friends,


In 2015, there are some things I don’t want to see or hear anymore.  As a society progresses, we outgrow these things, and we become better through letting them go.


Politics is not too controversial, too pointless, or too boring.  Politics is the shape of your society, your job, your family,  your life.  Politics should be central to your thoughts and actions, and should hold a strong place in your conversations.  Fears of offending your great-uncle should be forgotten.  The world doesn’t progress by appeasing the past, and his views on how easy slaves really had it have no place in 2015.  State your views loudly, and back them up with activism.


Protest is not violence, it is not troublemakers rioting in your city, it is not unemployed thugs trying to loot your small business.  Protest is the single most powerful act we  have to make change, and throughout centuries, has been used effectively not just in the development of our nation, but across the world to build a better society.  We have jobs, we have lives, we have families, we have things to get done… but first, we have a world to change.  You can join us, you can start another movement of your own, or you can stay home and do nothing, but please get over your calls to “get a job.”  You know I am a protester, and you know I work.


Civil disobedience is not ruining your country, your city, or your life.  It may be ruining your day, but frankly, that’s the point.  When you see us on the highway, it means we feel so strongly about the injustice in our country that we are willing to risk arrest and serious injury to help others understand and feel the frustration of a broken system.  Park your car, get out, and come talk to us.  Figure out what we represent and what we want, and if you feel like we make a good case, disrupt your own day and join us.  If not, be happy we live in a country where we can stand up like this and just know we’ll be out of the way soon enough.  It’s a small price to pay for changing the world.  And MLK was a big fan of civil disobedience, so stop confusing “peaceful” with “lawful.”  Our own police departments have confirmed that law and peace are often mutually exclusive.


If I have to sum it up in one short phrase, in 2015, I simply want you to give a shit.  If you can give a shit, it will become much easier to stand up for your views, and to stand against injustice wherever you see it.  Talk about politics, piss people off, disrupt, disobey… just give a shit.

Don’t write off the folks who just want to stay comfortable.  If we continue to agitate and take away their ability to pretend this isn’t happening, eventually they will embrace the concept of speaking up and standing up, and they will help our society progress even more in 2015.

Today I started Caring….

(The following article is a line-by-line rebuttal of this piece, published by a member of the Wisconsin Police Department last week.  I recommend reading the original piece first for clarity.)

Today, I started caring about my fellow man. I started caring about my community, my neighbors, and those I work with. I started caring today because a once noble profession has become despicable, hateful, untrustworthy, and mostly unnecessary.

I started caring today because parents must teach their kids to be careful and obedient to a fault around power-hungry law enforcement. I started caring today because kids see police take their parents away for having a joint, embedding a fear from year one. Moms hate them in their schools because we remember a day when children could learn without a gun and a badge waiting for a reason to interject in school matters.

They would rather stay unseen by civilian cameras, but still confronting civilians, readily available to “beat sense into” some kid. I started caring today because we work to keep our streets safe and organize peacefully, protesting within our Constitutional rights, only to be tear gassed for it, and sometimes even thrown in a cell because an officer didn’t like the way we looked at him.

At the very least, they are just another tool used by government to generate “revenue.” I started caring today because police use their power to intimidate adults and children alike with their guns, and use oppressive drug laws to justify SWAT raids and beatdowns. They often kill innocent people with unjust violence. They will deploy a Taser at the slightest provocation, and are not afraid to put a bullet in whoever crosses them.

And when they do shoot, we ask “why is this escalation of force always so necessary when German police shot 85 bullets in all of 2011?” And when one of them is killed by the attacks that do happen (and it is routinely reported in the mainstream media) the officers say, “this is why our use of force shouldn’t be questioned.” I started caring today because the police are a tool used to serve and protect the country’s elites. They work to take away speech, freedoms, and liberty at every turn.

They represent a Police State where jackbooted badge-wearing thugs have attacked innocent people without cause or concern for Constitutional rights. They are the killers of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and thousands more all rolled into one long propaganda video showing them buying gifts for kids or changing an old lady’s tire. I started caring today as no one wants to live in fear, and we demand answers, ethics, restraint, and accountability when an officer encounters a citizen of any color.

If an officer is caught driving drunk, speeding, abusing his or her spouse, or beating civilians, it is swept under the rug or called an “isolated event.” If they do their jobs properly, safely take a criminal into custody, hold a corrupt officer accountable, or otherwise show the restraint required of a civil safety service, they expect to be loudly rewarded for doing their job properly.

I started caring today because multiple videos from across the country, from the NYPD to small suburban police departments, show officers screwing up and forgetting their oath of honor, thus sparking a worldwide demand for accountability even though 99% of police officers just want the media to stop talking about it and focus on all those thugs smoking weed. They are militarized because they wear body armor and kevlar helmets when water bottles and their own tear gas canisters are thrown at them and carry semi-automatic rifles even though everyone in the crowd is armed with little more than a megaphone and a passion for a fair and equitable society.

I started caring today because the culture of today’s instantly connected society allows us to see the realities of abusive police in real time, when they refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, and blame everyone else instead of themselves. They look for reasons to declare a protest unlawful instead of asking the citizens “what can I do for you?”

To idolize gangsters, thugs, abusive behavior, and violence over peaceful protest, dedication, and achievement. To argue that firing a weapon at a petty thief should be a right, yet wearing body cameras or de-escalating a confrontation is a hassle. To intimidate versus serve. To hate versus help. Yes, I started caring today. And tomorrow, I will put my mask back on and I will march again.