RNC Day One: The girl with glitter on her shoulders


by Charley Underwood, 9/1/08 • This particular girl went forward to offer a flower to a riot-clad officer …

I was working as a street medic all day today, mostly offering people sunscreen and lozenges and water and so on.

At one point, after the large and very peaceful march had finished, every single bridge across I-94 was blocked by officers wearing paramilitary-style riot gear. Neither cars nor pedestrians were allowed to cross the freeway unless they had Republican credentials. Both cars and walkers could leave, however, and at one point I saw three women leaving the area, so I asked what had been going on.

The girl had been dancing in the streets with her friends. I assume it was somewhat in the nature of taunting the police. This particular girl went forward to offer a flower to a riot-clad officer and he maced her in the face. I didn’t notice any piercings or tattoos on the girl. What I noticed was that she was dressed in a sleeveless brightly colored dress and that her bare shoulders had been decorated with glitter. She certainly looked innocent, more dressed for a party than for a riot.

I also noticed, of course, that her eyes were quite red, that she had been crying and that she seemed shocked and afraid. I believe she was totally surprised by the reaction of the man in the paramilitary uniform.

I hope she is well now. I hope the first aid center could decontaminate her quickly, that she could cry and get hugs from her friends. I hope she finds someone to love her and maybe has children of her own one day, if that is her wish. I hope she somehow regains her innocence and her trust in humanity.

We should all accept, of course, that something may have been taken from that young girl that she can never regain. Perhaps she will now live in fear, seeking some elusive protection in cowering and anonymity. Or perhaps something in her heart will have hardened and she will join with those who have come to see the police and the true source of danger, who see the police as their enemies.

Whether she becomes fearful or filled with rage, it is hard for me to see how democracy was served today.