Tag Archives: marriage

To Henry and Lindsay

It is a measure of a life that the world changes for the better. It is the ultimate measure, because we all  are contributors to that better world. That brings a certain responsibility; A very certain one. By that standard, what have each of us contributed to a world better than the one we arrived to find? There is your question. There is the summation we all must make before God, before eternity, and within our own hearts.

Like each of us, my summation to that eternity is ever-changing. I struggle within my own heart, and struggle deeply. But I understand the storms in my heart do indeed resonate in the world, just as love resonates and resonates strongest of all. And so when defining what it is I want in the world most often I reply justice, knowing full well that there is no justice in the world without love.

Last night, in a warm and peaceful ceremony at the Starved Rock lodge Ana and I joined to celebrate the marriage of two dear friends, Henry and Lindsay. surrounded by the autumn woods painted among the deep canyons of the park, carved by the ages and the mighty Illinois River  adjacent. An autumn wind  raged outside the tall windows of the lodge, pushing showers of golden and umber leaves against the windows,  symbolic of our own lives pushed and pulled by the winds of the world.

It begs that we all must rely on one another, and that among the winds of the world we are small in the aggregate, but large among one another. We are large among one another because the world is so much bigger and formidable. We are large when we define ourselves by love, when we connect to one another through that power. We are large when we seek justice in the world, the proper justice only love can bring.

There is justice in the world. It comes, but it does not come by itself. Like a fine dish, or a good wine or a providing garden, it must be coaxed and nurtured and cared for. It must be defended to realize that fuller and better potential. It must improve what was there before: a lifeless patch of ground,  a bushel of grapes or un-realized spices. At times it must be fought for, by standing firm against the forces eschewing love and justice.

Henry and Lindsay were married with a simple few words and a symbolic kiss. But there is a history in that kiss, far beyond the two of them, one that speaks to that better world, and for those precious moments in that softly lit lodge, among their family and friends, I was moved to have been a part of it.

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, the final post

Sunday, May 28th, 9:35pm. It came about at the last-minute, a slapped together fundraiser on a sweltering night for several of those arrested at the NATO protest melee. There were others who were facing felony charges, one for stabbing a police officer in the leg. Like any fight, there was plenty for each side to be ashamed of, and to accuse the otherside for. But that night, at Cary’s Lounge on Devon Avenue, there was irony in that this all had an almost jovial sense, almost as if there was some odd sense of relief that it was finally over.

Outside, the street was crowded in this mostly Middleeastern and Indian neighborhood. Traffic was bumper to bumper, like one might expect a holiday weekend to be in say, Dehli or Lahore. Those immigrant faces gathered in groups along the street, joined in conversation, or walked as families and friends. Usmania, the restaurant across the street was packed with diners, as was the cheaper “peasant” middle eastern diner, Gahreeb Nawaz, up the street. next door to Cary’s, shoppers crowded at the counter of a Halal Muslim meat market, their forms blended beneath pale yellow lights and the dust and city grime of the windows. 

Monday after the protest, several hundred marched on Boeing headquarters downtown, several dozen covering themselves in oil for a ceremonial die-in on the street in front of the building. Police nearly outnumbered the protesters. Hardly testimony to the state of the movement as much as many of those from outside the city had gone home as the NATO summit ended. Remaining were the core activists of the movement. The downtown was all but deserted that day. The media had  done its job properly enough that most people stayed home and worked for fear of the violence the news people had hyped for weeks.

That morning Jack awakened in his own bed after a fitful sleep. He was staring at the ceiling,  a torrent of emotions raging in his heart. Eva was asleep beside him, a place he’d realized that he’d taken for granted far too much. Jeffrey was asleep in his arms. The boy had erupted in a scream the night before when Jack walked in, as if it was Christmas. Jack had called is boss at home just before midnight trying in some way to explain all this. She stopped him, and said there was nothing to explain, and that if he needed a few days to sort things out that his job was still there.

All that mattered now was that he was home. All Jack Murphy cared about was that he was with Jeffrey and Eva once more. Everything else would sort itself out. He had to believe that.

Lost amid news of the presidential campaign, the JP Morgan losses, the deaths of singer Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, and police superintendent Garry McCarthy’s media blitz about the overwhelming success of  his police in protecting the good citizens of Chicago, was any real news about what had happened behind those closed doors at the NATO summit. Tens and hundreds of billions would be bartered and gifted away without consideration or necessary oversite, while there would continue the call from the Right, acquiesced to by the Left, for more cuts to social programs, education, healthcare and pensions. There was hardly a mention that Congressman Joe Rand would be stepping down due to “health reasons.” There was nothing about Koffer Industries, only the usual blustering by Left-wing hosts who used the Koffers the way Glen beck used Saul Alinsky, except one championed the poor and oppressed, and the others created poverty and promoted oppression.

No charges had been filed, and none were pending. The same went for Ryan Carrera and the two hired snipers. All of them disappeared within the nation’s very same intelligence infrastructure from whence they came. The licenses of the car dealership in Berwyn were pulled by midweek, and the place was abandoned by Friday. The six Indiana men were allowed to plea bargain away the weapons charges, three of them getting sixty days for marijuana found on the farm, the others receiving probation and fines.

As for the police, the city had pressed them into service as virtual slave labor. They’d been fooled into believing the city of Chicago and Mayor Emanuel would honor the contracts. Now they were refusing to pay the overtime and accrued time off prescribed. Occupy Chicago had warned of this very thing. There is always money for war, always money for corporations and always money for banks. The police had accepted the propaganda that Occupy were a bunch of  communist hippies. But the police were a part of that much touted 99%. As the dust settled in the wake of NATO they might have believed they were standing on the wrong side of that protest line. The one percent had used them and then slammed the door in their face.

 There was a decent crowd at Carey’s Lounge that evening. Andy Thayer, who’d led the protest, stocking his ranks with Occupy Chicago, was established now as something of its leader, something Occupy had long eschewed. To say the protest hadn’t changed Occupy would not have been accurate. It had lost something of itself. All America had lost something of itself that Sunday. Beside him was now the defacto leadership of the movement, supplanting true social activism for something akin to personal vendetta against the authorities. It was valid to a point, but different from what the movement had forged itself into the previous Autumn. Hardly had it accomplished anything during the protests, but the forces arrayed against it were awesome and unprecedented, a coordination between government propaganda and corporate messaging that Joseph Goebbels might only have fantasized about.

The corporate media had no interest in validating the NATO protests. From the beginning, there was an effort to skew the coverage fully in terms of potential violence. They succeeded fully in overwhelming the demands for peace and transparency from the protesters. What little coverage the activists received was mocking, condescending or purposely framed them as confused and unfocused in their ultimate message.

It wasn’t a Left or Right issue. The Left abandoned Occupy just as surely when they realized the movement couldn’t be co-opted into a defacto vote factory that the Democrats could use and bank upon. With the presidential election barely six months away, the Democrats could not afford a true grassroots movement from of and for the people to rob them of badly needed votes. Add to that the undeniable fact that the leadership of the Democratic party was every bit as beholden to corporate interests and big money as the Republicans. Their pandering to progressive positions was simply a marketing strategy.

The headline in Tuesday morning’s Chicago Tribune read: CROWDS TRAPPED AT EVERY TURN, a reference to the police effort to contain and marginalize the anti-NATO protesters. What a wonderful message of the state of American democracy. What a beautiful message to send to future generations. What did the country believe that would ultimately mean for its future?

Beside Andy Thayer was one of those arrested in Bridgeport on the so-called terrorism charges. Before the sixty or so gathered in the bar, he recounted being taken not to jail but to a “black site,” where he’d been cuffed to a wall for twelve hours without water and without being allowed to use the bathroom. Beside him, a girl named Zoe, who’d been living in that apartment until that night.

“I got a call that night that said, ‘don’t come home.’ I haven’t been home since. I can tell you that the charges are bullshit. These were all really good guys, but they got their demons that helped to justify the sixty million spent on NATO security.”

Jack was at the back of the bar, just behind a couple of guys playing a serious game of eight ball. He was nursing a beer.

“We’ve raised almost two thousand dollars,” said Thayer from the crowded little stage in the front window, his muscular form silhouetted by neon beer signs in the window. “Please help us with whatever you can. And again, thank you for all coming out, and thanks again to The Exponential for coming out at the last-minute to play for us tonight.

That was Jack’s cue. He stood up and followed the three other members of the group through the crowded tavern to the stage. Sitting down behind his drum kit, Jack realized there was little justice to be found in all of this. Someone joked from the bar, a guy who’d seen his share of protests back to the 1968 Democratic convention, “What do you mean the revolution won’t be televised?”

Jack smiled thoughtfully. He thought of Deacon and Eva, Jeffrey, Blaze, Rebel Rose and all those who lifted their phones and pointed them at the police as they closed in around him. He might have abandoned all of this after coming so close to losing everything. He might have abandoned Occupy, given his criticisms.  Instead, he found community and cause to hope that there were indeed people who cared, and despite the wall of noise the mainstream media proliferated,  somehow they managed to find the true.

“No, it won’t be televised,” he said to himself, “but it will be digitized.”

21 Days in May: an occupy Novella, part twenty-nine

4:20 pm

Rose had slipped off the median to a small pocket between the wall and the curb when the battle began. Blaze was over her, taking the worst of things as he did his best to shield her. All around the street was a madhouse. Few held any illusions that the police held any sympathy for their cause, but many could not fathom that the police actually intended harm, and that some even seemed to take some pleasure in it. From where he stood, knocked and shoved by the panicking demonstrators, or fighting to maintain that beleaguered working space for Rose, he was certain that it was already too late for Jack and Eva.

“What are you doing down there!” he complained impatiently, almost drown by the din of the growing riot.

“Shut up!” she fired back. “It uploaded. It should freakin’ work!”

Eva fought her way towards that line of police, the place she’d last seen Jack and Angelo. Two Black Bloc members went by, retreating into the heart of the crowd. One of them was bleeding from a gash the forehead. She was nearly to the line of police when she spotted Jack and Angelo. They were struggling. Angelo, the stronger of the two, and trained in combat had the better hand, but was hampered by the fleeing protesters around and behind him.

“Enough!” Jack strained against Angelo. “Stop this!”

Angelo had to get him close to the police, or at least close enough that he could reveal to them the gun in Jack’s backpack, but he had to do it without drawing too much attention to himself, or ruining his chances for escaping back among the protesters. As the line of officers pressed forward, at the very least, all that he had to do was hold Jack there.

Suddenly Eva was there beside them, taking Angelo arm, fighting to pull him away from Jack. Angelo let go of Jack just long enough to through her back, where she tripped and fell, now fighting to keep from being trampled.

For just a moment, Jack, free of Angelo, thought of the gun. Seeing Angelo toss her away where she disappeared somewhere beneath the impossible crush of bodies filled him with a primitive white-hot rage. He might have exploded. He might have given into that vengeful, thoroughly human and purely selfish hypocrisy of “an eye for an eye.” He thought of Jeffrey, and all the lofty and progressive ideals he’d always espoused. Angelo grabbed him again. Jack’s attention was on the place he’d seen Eva go down, the place where she’d disappeared fully to now. His face was torn by that anguish. Jack cried out.


 Eva was in the fight of her life now. The press and power of thousands kept her from finding her feet. She was losing the fight, trampled now as the crush and fear only increased, rising to unimaginable heights. She was helpless in the face of that. Knocked to one side, several fleeing demonstrators stepped on her side, driving the wind from her lungs. Eva gasped for breath and wondered if she was about to die on that street. In her hand the phone and the last hope she had for saving Jack. Eva held tight to it, and would until the very end. She thought of her son and her family, and all those who had so cynically sought to destroy that beautiful island of peace and love. One thought that ran again and again through her mind: How could they…how could they…

Suddenly a massive hand wrapped around her arm. The power of that grip seemed heaven-sent, tearing her from the street and lifting her almost effortlessly to her feet, as unsteady and uncertain as that was for the moment.

She looked up into the big Black man’s saving eyes as if he was some sort of angel. They were eyes filled with the pained and simple wisdom of a man who’d lived a hard life. She wanted to cry. He touched her face.

“You must be Eva,” said the man. “I’m Deacon. You must be Eva. He talked about you all the time.”

“How did you…?”

“I seen that guy shove you down.”

She looked back to Angelo and Jack, now in a life and death hold. The line of riot police was almost upon them.

“Let’s go save your boy,” Deacon said as calmly as if they were walking across a park. Indeed, with his size and power, Deacon cleaved a way through the tangle of bodies straight to the pair. Jack hadn’t seen them at first. From the corner of his eye he noticed Deacon, now looming just behind Angelo. He took his defiant gaze from Angelo’s, feeling suddenly rescued at the sight. Close behind Deacon was Eva. Jack nearly cried out. Instead, with all that brought a renewed resolve and strength.

“Move Back!” The police line closed on the group. Angelo hesitated; long enough to be sure there would be no chance for Jack to escape arrest. At that instant Eva’s phone trembled in her hand.

“Move back, or you will be arrested!” shouted a police sergeant, from just behind the rank of riot police now upon Jack and the others.

But there was nowhere to go. At several places the police lines had trapped hundreds of demonstrators and journalists alike, crushing them against store windows that threatened to give way. If they did scores would be injured or worse. Shouts rose in unison against the onslaught, begging for relief. Realizing the danger, the police lines relented, retreating slightly to relieve the imminent pressure.

A police man grabbed at Jack. More hands reached for Angelo, but he dodged them, meeting one of the officer’s eyes.

“This man has a weapon!”

The reaction was immediate. Several of the officers seized Jack, the line now almost fully closed on the foursome. Angelo turned to escape, and instead ran head long into Deacon. Beside them Eva’s eyes widened as her phone came to life. It was the video she’d shot of Congressman Rand.

Meanwhile, several Black Bloc members, seeing that the police had seized Jack pushed towards them, intent on rescuing anyone facing arrest. Eva saw them and pointed her phone in their direction.

“Phones!” she cried. “Raise your phones! Everyone!”

At first there were only a few, then a dozen, including the Black Bloc, then dozens. Around the protest the battle continued unabated, but in that little pocket, everything came to a sudden halt. The sergeant pushed forward, shouting for his men and women to pause. A lieutenant, and then another appeared, both of them were looking at their own phones in disbelief.    

HOLMAN: … your connection to Ryan Carrera, Tom Koffer and a Berwyn car dealership that confirmed Carrera purchased three vehicles that are to be delivered tomorrow to a street gang to be filled with weapons and explosives to discredit the Occupy movement.

RAND:  … I am a sitting US fucking congressman…

HOLMAN: I have all the pieces, including your role in possible weapons charges, organized crime, conspiracy.

RAND: You want the truth? The truth is I meant to stop this Occupation bullshit dead in its tracks.

EVA: The Legislation.

RAND: And you, big cop, while your fellow officers are being insulted and spit on by those scum, what are you doing? You think you can bring me down? I’ll crush you. You’ll see, when the police find car loads of guns with your husband’s name all over the title, the face book postings, all of it was beautiful. No offense lady, but you have to crack some eggs to make an omelet. You and him are small sacrifices to save this country for the people who made it great.

EVA: Rich white guys?

RAND: Damn fucking right, rich white guys. But there’s nothing you can do. It’s all set, and tomorrow the hammer comes down on Occupy. Monday morning I’m in Washington with a bill branding them as domestic terrorists, and calling for anyone associated or affiliated will be treated like a criminal. How’s that. Tom Koffer won’t talk. And the others, after tomorrow, they will be ghosts. Satisfied?

Tears flooded into Eva’s eyes. She wished she knew where Blaze and Rose were in all of this. From those up raised tones the video ended with a chorus of tones, signifying that links to the already posted YouTube video’s of Rand’s ad hoc confession had been texted to each phone, available for the whole world to see.

One of the police lieutenant’s came forward. His men now had both Angelo and Jack. Both were already in handcuffs. “Are you Jack Murphy?”

“Yes sir.” Jack nodded, throwing a glance to Eva.

“Ryan Carrera?” he said to Angelo, who looked away without reply.

“Lieutenant,” said one of the officers. Both suspects had a weapon.

The lieutenant’s jaw stiffened a bit. He held no particular love for the Occupy movement, but he was a man of fairness, and his share of wisdom.

  “I’ll take them. I think we’ll find that both of them belong to Mister Carrera.” He took the two backpacks from the officer, testing their weight in his hand. He looked up at Angelo. He already knew something of the man after all that Dan Holman had given them earlier. A Vietnam veteran, Angelo’s absolute betrayal of his nation struck him deeply.

“Ryan Carrera,” he continued,  “you are under arrest for conspiracy, intent to commit fraud, attempted murder, and that’s just for starters.” He nodded to the two officers holding him. “Take him out of here.”

“What about Jack?” Eva almost pleaded.

The officer nodded. “It’s all right. We know he was set up. Why don’t you both come along.”

Around them the drama continued, and would last into the evening. In pockets there were fights, in others tense standoffs with protesters and police eye to eye, but in most places all those citizen activists, all those who believed in a better world, those thousands who shouted despite a corporate media refusing to carry their message honestly, they would depart peacefully enough. They were already part of that better world, and unwilling to descend to the escalated violence of the corporate power structure seizing control of the nation and world, but there could be no doubt who the true enemy was.

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, party twenty-eight

3:15 pm

“There’s fucking cops dressed as protesters in the crowd!” Blaze heard one of the Black Bloc guys exclaim from where he sat beneath a tree in the median. Hardly twenty, the Black Bloc guy wore the ubiquitous baggy black clothes and a paint spattered pair of worn combat boots. Wavy, sandy-blond hair tumbled from beneath a plastic “V for Vendetta” mask. He was tall and sinewy, his body squared a bit by a homemade body protector beneath a baggy black tee-shirt. A red and white checkerboard bandana covered the bottom half of his face. Ski goggles dangled at his neck. In a backpack over one shoulder he carried a bottle of vinegar and a large bottle of water, both needed to counteract chemical agents like pepper spray and tear gas.

“I just saw two cops change clothes,” he continued, “and enter the protest with a couple of bricks.”

“Lock arms!” someone shouted, as better than fifty demonstrators formed something of a wall. Behind them, the Black Bloc people, perhaps no more that a dozen or fifteen, hardly the army of despots the media frightened the public over, collected as a tight group, crouched or sitting on the ground to prevent any immediate infiltration. Nearby, the taunting and teasing of a line of riot police grew with the mounting tensions. It was far less than the media and police spokespersons would later claim. Most of the banter from demonstrators were reminders that they too were working class, and that their livelihoods and families were just as threatened. Not that any of that fell on deaf or indifferent ears, but rather upon ears that were steeped in propaganda and an us-versus-the-world mindset, or who were caught in an impossible situation somewhere between their immediate livelihoods and that of a dictatorial system slowing strangling their future.

On Michigan, two blocks south of the stage better than a hundred State Police climbed out of three greyhound buses. They were far more aggressive than their Chicago counterparts, and eager for a fight. They held two dogs against the protesters, drawing ranks against the still peaceful demonstrators, allowing no one to leave. They purposely agitated the dogs, seeming to enjoy the fear it instilled against students, grandparents, journalists and parents with children. Not content with their police-issue batons, some of the State Police sported longer, thicker sticks, capable of inflicted far more damage and much more pain. For one Hungarian woman, it brought back recollections of the Soviet occupation when she was a child.

Amid all of this, Blaze and Rebel Rose sat on the ground cross-legged and leaning against one another back to back. Their laptops were open. Both of them were working furiously on different pieces of the same project. Quite purposely the pair had inserted themselves between a television camera crew and a French reporter live-streaming the protest

He and Rose were furiously trying to upload into the various available connection networks the video Eva and her uncle had of Congressman Rand. He wasn’t having any luck, and something told him it wouldn’t work. Blaze also understood that if it didn’t Jack stood little chance at all.

Eva was somewhere in the crowd, pushing through the crush of thousands of bodies, the upraised arms, fingers risen in peace signs or holding camera phones and cameras. It felt to her like fighting her way through a pulsing, moving forest. She was looking for Jack, wanting to be with him when Blaze and Rose uploaded the video to thousands of phones  at once. But it seemed utterly hopeless. She checked her phone. It was almost four, and almost time for the upload. Beside the stage a line of mounted police drew tighter ranks and edged towards the crowd. She pressed on, pleading with people, begging forgiveness as  she pushed through the reluctant and at times unyielding bodies. And now there was something new. The tension and tempo of the moment built towards a violent crescendo. It whipped through the thousands of demonstrators like a virus. They were being trapped, surrounded and enclosed from all sides.

Angelo waited for the right moment. He waited for the predictable chaos to follow when he could expose Jack and slip away into the confusion. Behind them a double rank of riot police marched into the heart of the demonstrators. West of the intersection, the cerulean police riots helmets fully outnumbered civilians. On command the police moved in, without provocation, without reason, and for no other purpose than to punish those who stood from freedom against the emerging police state of America, and to crush the inclination to challenge the decided authority of the nation. These officers, by purpose or circumstance had abandoned their individual oaths, pressing forcefully against fellow citizens as mindless automatons to their bartered government.

“Move back! Move back! Move back!” the ranks of riot police repeated mechanically again and again, holding their batons out and pushing against the trapped demonstrators.

Now the opposing sides were face to face, squared off in places, cornered and terrified in  most others. Still the police pressure continued, their lines inching forward, compelling emotions, stoking anger, inciting the trapped. Within the steadily shrinking pocket some pleaded, others accused, still others, like the Black Bloc rose to  stand against this tyranny, and when there was nowhere else to go, when they were crushed together, the demonstrators pushed back.

It was the trigger the police had been waiting for, for which they fully anticipated, and which they plainly and purposely provoked. A roar swept through the demonstrators, a chorus of fear and anger and defiance. In small pockets fists were thrown against swinging batons.

The melee still had not erupted full force when Eva spotted Jack not twenty yards away. A line of police pressed towards him steadily. Behind Jack, Angelo shoved him forward, straight  at the police. She checked her phone and strained across the wild mass of humanity to the place she’d left Blaze and Rebel Rose. They were late, her phone silent. She had a sinking feeling that it was too late. When she looked again to Jack and Angelo,,,they were gone.


21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-seven

The Chicago police had no particular love for the protesters. In fact, their supreme effort was to curtail and disrupt the protests by any means at their disposal, both legal and in the vast gray equivocations between legal and illegal. Already this whole time the Chicago police had proven their intent on doing just that, but they drew the line on murder. Still, there was talk about how to capitalize on the car bomb and weapons believed to be coming up from Indiana. Some wondered aloud about the advantage linking them to the protests, knowing full well in the current frenzied media climate that merely the official insinuation of something insidious by the protesters would be emblazoned upon the headlines.

There was an old Jewish proverb about a man who told a lie about another man. His penance was to climb the tallest hill with a sack of goose feather and through them to the wind. What this had to do with the lie, he asked the rabbi, who replied, the feathers are your lie, now go and retrieve them all. It was of course an impossible thing to do, but that was the state of the media, which the authorities only understood too well. Once the lie had been cast to the media, the truth would remain the ultimate casualty. They would have until word came from the Indiana State Police about the arrests at the farm. For his part, Big John Bohannon was there to make sure everyone got that part of the story right.

The top brass of the Chicago Police department at first were at first slow to react after the call by Joe Rand, who to his credit finally for once did something against his own personal interests. It was natural that he gave just enough, but held back much of the scheme until he received a satisfactory amount of immunity. When word came from Indiana, the police moved swiftly, while keeping all of this as quiet as possible. Koffer’s hired hit men were detained and arrested quietly as they entered a checkpoint near the Summit location at the McCormick Place convention center. Far from the semi-watchful eyes of the media, both men were quickly taken into custody and whisked away.

The protest grew and swelled, becoming louder and more demanding. The marchers were obstinate in the face of an increasingly hostile and intimidating force. The sun stiffened and grew maddening, bringing a new variable to the emotion of the day. Preoccupied with control and the ultimate submission of the protesters-as if the demonstration was merely a passing fancy. The heat served to incubate their hostility as they sweltered under their gear and uniforms. The demonstrators, by contrast had come for community, not in riot gear with helmets and shields, or with helicopters intelligence and guns, but in tennis shoes, sandals and shorts.

Angelo was waiting for a text to one of the fraudulent accounts set up in Jack’s name that the gunmen were in place. He and Jack slipped into the protest just beginning to cross the river from the warehouse loft on Cermak. The message from the Indiana boys was well over due already. He felt the tension mounting in his chest as instinct told him something was clearly wrong. But Angelo was a soldier, and no one had given the order to abort the mission. He still had Jack. The police still considered him a fugitive. The gun he’d planted in the pack jack carried would guarantee mission success, even if the others failed.

The protests moved in two parts. A group marched south from Grant Park, while the main body, perhaps two thousand strong once they reached the heart of Chinatown, continued east towards McCormick place, flanked by hundreds of police. When they finally converged, according to police estimates, their numbers would be close to five thousand.

Among the protesters,  a shadowy group which had come to embody violence, at least as far as the media was concerned,  called the Black Bloc kept a close watch over their two dozen or so numbers, often linking arms, as much for safety as for solidarity. John Cody of WBBM had inquired to an activist off the record about the Black Bloc a few days before. “I hear they are coming to tear up the city?” he asked.

Truth of it was, the Black Bloc was hardly a gang of hooligans intent on violence. Instead they were more a tactic, a counterbalance to the heavy-handed tactics of the police who were more concerned with enforcing statutes than upholding constitutional law. The Black Bloc was, in spirit represented the embodiment of Malcolm X’s “Kill that dog” sentiment. “if a man uses  a dog to keep you from what is yours, kill that dog!”

The ideological opposite of fascist sensibilities, the Black Bloc were easy to infiltrate, and there was certainly a well established history of that by police. The two studied and circled one another like opposing wolves, testing each other’s weakness and strengths, neither shy of clashing. In Oakland California, police Captain Howard Jordan’s officers easily infiltrated the group, bragging that it was possible to “direct them to do something that we want them to do.” During the famous prank call in which embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker believed he was speaking with David Koch Walker revealed he was considering planting troublemakers among the peaceful protesters occupying the state capital.

A stage had been erected at the southwest corner of Michigan and Cermak, opposite a One Price Cleaners. Thousands filled the intersection. It was here the police drew their battle lines. Their motives w ere obvious, their riot gear and drawn night sticks explicit. They were the blunt end, the brutal manifestation of  a particular political perspective, and nothing more. The myth of protecting the social order was a cover to the insidious and sad manifestation of what America had become. No one in that crowd had any illusions about that, and in their heart of hearts, neither did many of the police present that day. TThey knew well they were holding the line for banksters and paid-for politicians, like Joe Rand, who slobbered at the idea of raiding their pensions, stealing their social security and denying them benefits.

Most of the Black Bloc group were collected just west of the intersection, better than a hundred yards from the stage where the veterans were speaking.  That seemed where the fight was likely to happen. They knew what was about to happen, even as most of the demostrators listened intently to the speeches a half a block away.

To tears and pained applause Lance Corporal Scott Olsen fought emotion, “Today I have my Global War on Terror Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal, National Defense Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. These medals, once upon a time, made me feel good about what I was doing . I don’t want these anymore!”

They could hardly be heard back across the intersection, and there were ominous warnings of things to come. A line of riot police had moved astride the median. Behind the protest several ranks moved into formation. The time was at hand.  The police were going to war.

Angelo couldn’t wait any longer. Something had gone terribly wrong with the plan. He also knew enough of police tactics to know that a crackdown was imminent. He had taken hold of Jack’s elbow, trying to figure the next move, to analyze  what had gone wrong. Jack could see that Angelo felt just as trapped as he did. He couldn’t continue this any longer and turned abruptly. There was a line of police a few yards away. It was time to call Angelo’s bluff.

“It’s over, man,” he said.

Angelo’s eyes were filled with the murderous desperation of a cornered man. He slid the pack from his shoulder and reached inside, wrapping his hand around the weapon there.

“I decide when this is over.”

“I know everything. Other people know.”

“You don’t know shit.” He nodded to the pack. “Go ahead. Go for the gun. Do it. Shoot me. You want to.”

Jack conceded it was a tempting proposition. For what Angelo had done to his family, it almost seemed justified. But Jack was just as trapped as Angelo. He could hardly abandon the gun for anyone to find, and if the police discovered it in his possession…jack threw out his arms, raising his hands.

“They find me, they find you too.”

Angelo released his hold on the gun. He’d handle this another way…

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-six

“It’s over,” Rand’s voice rose into the phone. “They know about it all, the whole damned thing. Pull the plug, Tom, or I’ll call a press conference.”

Koffer was unmoved. He hadn’t come this far in business, he had built ALEC into the virtual legislative empire it had become by wavering in the face of resistance, and a bought and paid for congressman, a do-gooder cop and a hand full of hippie protesters were not about to stop him now. Tom Koffer drew his line. He stood, leaning on his desk, his voice low and dangerous.

“Back out on me now and you are fucking done! I’ve covered my tracks. It appears that these two are your problem, so you find a way to deal with them. If I were you I’d already be on the phone to the god damned police superintendent asking why some know nothing cop is interfering on behalf of a relative on a case that doesn’t pertain to him. Make it clear, Joe, because I can guarantee you I can walk away from all of this, but if I do I will destroy you.”

Rand drew the phone from his ear as the line went dead. He paced his small office. Upstairs his family slept soundly. He weighed all of this. He weighed the implications, his family and himself. He sat upon the leather couch and let his head fall back against the wall. He let out a long slow breath and raised the phone, scrolling through the numbers to an aide. The voice at the other end answered groggily.

“Congressman? Is everything okay?”

Rand hesitated as he pondered the wisdom of what he was about to do. This would be the toughest call he’d ever had to make. Rand cleared his throat and nodded.

“I’m sorry for the hour,” he said.

“What is it?”

“I need to you get me in touch with the Police Superintendent for Chicago.”

“I’ll call first thing in the morning,” said the aide with a yawn.

“No,” Rand said, staring off into nothingness, “I appreciate it if you could do that right away.”



Dan and Big John Bohannon went past the small Indiana farm shown on the receipt from the car dealership. Dan Holman’s SUV was heavy with the scent of cigarettes and black coffee. Holman was dressed in jeans and a blue Gap tee shirt. His police-issue bulletproof vest was strapped tightly to his body, almost uncomfortably tight. His Smith and Wesson .45 was strapped to his right thigh. Beside him, Big John was checking his weapon. He was still in the suit he’d worn earlier, trading the suit coat for a navy blue windbreaker.

“See anything as we went by?” asked Dan. He could feel time slipping away at a furious pace. It would be light in an hour or so.”

“Light on in the kitchen,” said Bohannon. “That’s all I saw.”

“Over this next hill we’ll switch places and call the State police. I’ll jump out and come around the back. You go up the middle and we’ll catch them at the back door.”

“Just like old times, partner.”

“Just be safe.”

They went without headlights. Big John slowed enough for Dan to jump out. Following a ragged fence line, Dan drew his weapon and moved to flank the house, keeping a wary eye on the dark windows.John waited until Dan disappeared behind the house before turning down the gravel driveway.

Two men were just coming down the back steps when John turned the headlights on them, catching them fully by surprise. Dan appeared behind them, his weapon trained at the pair. Without a word he motioned them to the truck, bound their hands and legs with plastic cuffs, then with Big John slipped into the house.

They found one man asleep on the couch, another reading an old Playboy in the toilet just off the cluttered and filthy living room. Out in the yard a fifth man slipped from the barn. As sirens approached in the distance Big John leveled his weapon at the fleeing man, whom he guessed wasn’t older than seventeen or eighteen, and on the scrawny side.

“Stop there, son,’ John ordered. Don’t make me chase you as I’m apt to have a heart attack, and my final act before hitting the ground will be to put a bullet in you.”

The kid stopped in this marionette sort of limp foot-dragging way. He turned, his head hung, as if he’d just been caught by a parent not washing for supper.With the crimson like just staining the horizon, Dan counted five. The sixth would get picked up after shoplifting a six pack of beer in Gary.

Out back of the barn they found three full loaded vehicles with guns and ammunition and all sorts of Occupy and socialist literature, and one vehicle rigged as a bomb. On the front seat of one of the cars was a box of plastic cloves, rubbing alcohol and rags to erase any fingerprints. After talking with the local investigators Dan excused himself. John would remain behind for a while.



At Trinity Episcopal Church at 26th and Michigan, where activists from around the nation and world gathered, many were already up and preparing for the day they’d been waiting for. Likewise, the police presence drew its own lines. The air was still cool, weighted with dew, with the promise of sweltering temperatures that had weighed so heavily the day before would play a greater part in events.

There was a fundamental difference between these groups, one that spoke directly to the stark perspectives that would bring them to a clash. The activists had come to be heard and to demand a better more peaceful world. In reaction, the authorities came ready for war, surrounding and isolating these civilians as if our assertions of free speech and redress were a virus to be eradicated from the body of the nation. It was truly an immense gulf with profound implications for freedom. If 10 Tea party activists in crocs and Charlie Daniels tee shirts had complain about any infringement on the Second Amendment the media trembled and politicians quaked…but trample first amendment rights for those who desired peace and decried corporate parentage of government and every arsenal was employed vigorously to stop them


Jack hadn’t slept all night. He was sitting on the couch, looking out window to the street below, thinking that freedom seemed so very far away, and seeing a thousand pitfalls in the plan he and Eva-mostly Eva- had come up with. But what else did me have?  Angelo was in the kitchen cooking up some eggs, which felt to him quite literally like preparing a condemned man’s last meal.  Angelo came into the adjacent dining room with two plates of rather unappetizing looking scrambled eggs and slices of lightly burnt toast. He set the other plate down opposite his without saying a word. Jack looked up only briefly, and thought better of it.

Both men knew. Neither Jack nor Angelo had any doubts about each other. Angelo knew full well that Jack suspected him. Angelo used that to artificially manufacture the necessary antagonism to see the mission through. He consoled himself with the thought that he wasn’t pulling the trigger, and that there was far more at stake that one man’s life. It was the same rationalization and pretend angst the police and security forces used to demonize the protesters, internalizing and personalizing the abstracts of conflicting, unjust and contradictory statutes. For the two men in that little apartment, life had become a chess game with the highest possible stakes.

“Why do we have to go to the protest?” Jack asked. “Shouldn’t we do this someplace more discreet?”

“No,” said Angelo coldly. “It has to be there.”

“And what if I decide not to go?” Jack pressed a bit.

Angelo dropped the fork loudly to his plate and stood, almost threateningly. He was darker now, brooding. He went to his room and returned with two backpacks.

“Get up,” he snapped.

Jack stood and caught the pack was it was thrown to him. It was heavy, weighted at the bottom. Jack moved his hand across the front of the pack finding the unmistakable outline of a pistol inside.

“What’s this?” asked Jack.

Angelo didn’t reply as he headed for the door. He opened the door to the apartment and looked back at Jack. His eyes were dark and dangerous pools.

“Let’s go.”



Tom Koffer had guessed his men would be moving into place atop the red-brick warehouse at 330 East Cermak. From the tower at the east end of the building they would have an unprecedented view of the protest. The GPS that Angelo would carry promised to make this only too easy, and lead them precisely to the targets. The rest would sun like clockwork.  Two shots, two kills, two men implicated.

The police would discover the weapons and car bomb. The backlash and outrage against Occupy and the peace marchers would be catastrophic to the Left. The Left would be crushed, ALEC relieved, Obama discredited and the way paved for a clear Romney win in the presidential election.

But Koffer had no intention of sticking around for the madness that would certainly follow. In a few hours he would climb aboard his private jet, reaching Mexico city in time for an early supper. By this time tomorrow he would touch down in Morocco and then to a rented villa in the Greek Islands until things quieted down.

Among the protesters, the energy and passion building for months was still to peak.They gathered in Grant Park, marched from Trinity Church and the Lofts at 500 West Cermak. They came from the suburbs and all across the city with children. There were students, housewives, grandparents, professional, homeless, veterans, union and management. There were Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Christians, Catholics, Jews and Evangelicals. Some had walked to Chicago, others came from around the globe, all for the singular purpose, the fundamental desire to find a new way other than war. They were stealing back the religiosity of warfare, returning the fundamental tenants of peace that had been co-opted by the corrupt and merciless. They eschewed the perversion of violence in Jesus’ name, and were outraged at cynical refrains mocking concepts of peace and conciliation and humanity.

Opposing them were the forces of corporate power, manifested as police, parading as security and bartering away their citizenship for indentured servitude. They could rely on the media to sell the narrative of the protester as public enemy and the police as protector. The media was only too willing, siding with their corporate owners and desiring the sensational and the conflict.  They were the surrogates for marketers who preferred a simple-minded and gullible audience who would buy their consumerist shit and embrace their constructed candidates. These two diametrically opposing forces were destined to clash on the streets of Chicago this d ay…

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part Twenty- Four

They  began gathering in Grant Park before dawn before marching to the Mayor’s home on the north side of the city. Five hundred or so took over the street to make their demands known directly to the Mayor,  without allowing him the insulation and isolation of city hall. They closed down the street shouted their life and death grievances to the Mayor’s empty home, surrounded by police in riot gear, shaming him to his neighbors. That done they turned back towards downtown to join their brothers and sisters marching against the injustice of the three activists being held on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Tim and Beth Alberts were just posing for wedding photographs when the protesters passed. Beth, scooping up the trail of her white dress, her bridesmaids, aghast at the audacity of the protesters to intrude and spoil her picture-perfect wedding, snarled. Beth threw a fit.

“Dumb bitch,” remarked Blaze, as he and Rebel Rose sat on the wall beside the river. Rebel reached across her lap top and smacked him in the head. He howled, but more for surprise than pain. “What was…?”

“That’s for being an asshole,” said Rose. “It’s her wedding, you idiot.”

“Look at her and her perfect Clark Kent husband, with that limo and, clearly there one percenters.”

“You can’t just say everybody in the one percent is evil.” She frowned and pounded out some long string of code into her laptop. Like Blaze, her fingers were working madly, her mind, her eyes taking in the dozens of boxes and lines of code filling her screen, with all the minute concentration of a musician riffing on a line of music. It was reactive, intuitive, her mind and body at one with the spectacular rush of images before her.  Indeed, she was almost in a trance.

“What do you care for those people anyway?” Blaze remarked almost warily over the prospect of another swipe by Rose.

“You can’t just shit on people,” she scolded. “They had a right to their life.”

“What are we here for then?”

“Remind them of their responsibility.”

Blaze leaned into the screen of his computer. “What’s this?”


“I got jack buying three cars last week from some scumbag suburban used car place.”


“Yeah but I got like a dozen calls by our mister Angelo/Carrera. So I did a little search. Seems the previous owner was indicted on all these organized crime things.”

“And?” Rose said with typical impatience, “or do I have to smack you again?”

“The old man went to jail. His son runs the place now.”

“What the hell would Angelo want with three cars in Jack’s name?” Rose pondered, then pulled out her cellphone. “I have to call Eva.”

By four there was again a standoff on the Michigan Avenue bridge, the police preventing the marchers from crossing to the so-called Magnificent Mile, to the consumptive shrines of Water Tower Place, Neiman Marcus , Nike and H & M. tensions were peaking now. Jessie Jackson Junior appealed for non-violence

“We learned from Dr. King in Birmingham,” he told those gathered. “We can’t afford to have out message hijacked by acts of provocation.”

Turning, they marched south chanting, “Who’s streets? Our streets!” Bringing Michigan Avenue to a halt. Their thousands swarmed over the street, flanked by police. They would fight for those long-held and bloodily fought for civil rights, even if those they fought for her stoic or hostile to the effort.

At 18th street the police halted the march, refusing to let them pass. Emotions rose in proportion, a hand full of protesters refused to be  turned back. A brief scuffles ensued at the curb. Suddenly a man emerged from within the police ranks, red-faced and taunting the gathered protesters. Middle-aged,  with a military style haircut, dressed in plain clothes, he  very obviously intended to intimidate the protesters and drive a confrontation that would justify a heavy-handed response against the twenty-five hundred marchers. He stood solidly among their ranks. Not a single officer, no Sergeant or lieutenant made the least effort to curtail or control him.

“Come over here, goddamnit!” he screamed drawing a mix of reactions from the officers lining the street. “I’ll fuckin’ kill you! Come on! Come on!”

“Can you say You tube moment?” a protesters shouted back. “V for viral!”

“Come on!” the man screamed, as cameras and cellphones arose like a digital jury that would be spread around the planet in moments. “I’ll take you all! Come on, goddamnit!”

More activists chanted, “We love you” and “peace, man.”

The police fully intended to control and direct the movement, which led to several scuffles but no arrests. The news would later describe that batteries and bottles were thrown at police, which was a complete fabrication. Some yelled epithets at the police, but they were marginalized and very few and far between. In truth, most of the police were polite and professional, the protesters, controlled and determined. It was a testament to their professionalism, as sad and unjust as their assigned mission was.

The sun was a force, playing heavily on the marchers and police alike, the temperatures soaring to more than ninety. Among the protesters, veterans of all of the recent wars back to Vietnam, ACLU monitors, human rights witnesses, and nurses. Overhead, police and military helicopters hovered, keeping a watchful eye. The military state, the willing dupes of a corporate oligarchy, flexed its muscle making it clear that rights were merely a tolerance of the state, the constitution a fool’s pursuit, as the state had rendered it meaningless, butchering those ignoble words by statutes with suicidal words like “safety” and “public order.”

All across the city the corporate propagandists in the media continued the steady drumbeat denouncing the protests. Again and again they complained that the movement did not  stand for anything, or stood for too much all at once. These were tactics to obscure a message they had no intention of hearing, let along reporting. The media focused relentlessly on hope for violence. WBBM’s John Cody brought a near sexual obsession in his unwavering focus on the specter of violence.

What was interesting is how the freedom of speech could be so easily ignored, or worse, that the media would completely turn a blind ear from the protests, and how to accomplish that so fully for their corporate masters that violence became its singular focus. It was a partnership with the police and city hall, and more importantly by NATO that aided the ultimate strategy, which was to obscure and conceal any truths about what was being discussed in those private meetings. What did get out was highly polished edited and crafted reports fully in keeping with the same state-controlled messaging that characterized the Miloshevich regime in Serbia during the Balkan wars on the Nineties.

Where were the tea parties? Where was the NRA, and the second amendment types? Simply the suggestion of photo IDs for gun owners brought them into the streets by the…dozens? They claimed it would not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but each state requires a driver’s license even though that doesn’t stop car thieves. But they were silent on this staggering assault first amendment predicted instead the negotiability of their rights as well, for the state, and corporate governance was eroding all American’s civil liberties. It begged the question that if a populace so lazy and indifferent to the loss of those rights, do they deserve them at all?   

At State and Harrison the protesters attempted a march on the jail holding the three now accused of terrorism. So far no proof had been offered by prosecutors, only accusations and the flimsiest sort of hearsay evidence. Suddenly a line of police appeared, blocking their way, and donning riot gear. Some carried shields, most held their wooden truncheons at the ready. Their appearance was so quick, there could be no doubt they were provoking confrontation. Emotions peaked at the police readied clubs and prepared to charge against the tightly massed activists. A bullhorn resound from amid the protest. Everyone braced for an assault by the police.

“Mic check!” the speaker began, as hundreds repeated, their voices resounding among the tall buildings. “We are asking the CPD to stand aside. Let us pass. We wish to protest against the illegal arrest of our brothers and petition for their immediate release!”

The police edged forward and clashed briefly with a dozen or so protesters attempting to breach the blockade and assert their rights to redress a grievance. A call went up to link arms and hundreds formed solid ranks facing truncheons and armored officers. This, this was the assertion of the god-given rights that the Right wing talks about but doesn’t support in practice. This was the push back against a complete surrender to corporate power to bully and rule the nation.  This was but one battle for the life of the nation.

He didn’t know it, but if Eva couldn’t figure what Angelo and the Koffers were up to, he had only hours to live and the heavy hand of the law would fall mercilessly upon the movement…

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-three


Attacks on Chicago police stations, Obama office were planned, prosecutors say

NBC’s Chuck Todd reports on the foiled plot to disrupt the NATO summit by attacking targets in Chicago with Molotov cocktails, including President Obama’s campaign headquarters.

By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

Updated at 8 p.m. ET CHICAGO — Three anti-NATO protesters charged with terrorism conspiracy planned to attack four Chicago police stations, the local campaign headquarters for President Barack Obama and the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, prosecutors alleged in court Saturday.

Plans were made to destroy police cars and attack four CPD stations with destructive devices, in an effort to undermine the police response” to attacks on the Obama office, the Emanuel home as well as unspecified financial institutions during the NATO summit this weekend, the charging statement said.

The men were identified as 22-year-old Brian Church, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; 27-year-old Jared Chase, of Keene, N.H.; and 24-year-old Brent Betterly, who told police he resides in Massachusetts. 

The three are “self-proclaimed anarchists, and members of the ‘Black Bloc’ group,” prosecutors said, without elaborating.

Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the men, denied that and said the men and their friends were in Chicago to “peaceably protest.”

The three were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism. Bond of $1.5 million was set for each defendant… 


 “Danny?” said the booming voice at the other end of the telephone. “Big John Bohannon.”

Dan felt he was being monitored, and Bohannon shared the same suspicion. It wouldn’t be safe to be anywhere near a phone

“Johnny, thinking of taking an early supper.”

“The old place?’ he said purposely vague.

“Been a while, partner. Half an hour?”

“Fifteen,” said Bohannon. This time of day on a Friday no one could get to them in less than a half hour.

They met at Demon dogs on Milwaukee, where the two men frequented when they were partners. Dan informed the dispatcher and switched off his radio. He guided the squad into the BP station on the corner and left his radio and cellphone under the seat. Bohannon was waiting already with two Demon dogs and fries served in the joints signature box. They found a seat outside at the back of the restaurant.

“Looks like it will be a crazy weekend,” Dan said, taking a bite of his dog.

“Makes me nervous your this close to all this mess, Dan.”

“What did you find?”

“Something’s up,” said Big John. “I checked out your boy with an old FBI buddy. Gotta tell you he was pretty nervous about looking this guy up, and more nervous after. Some scary people, Dan. Your boy is into all sorts of black ops. I couldn’t get details, but its heavy, under-cover, never know about it in a thousand years shit.”

“What’s he doing in Chicago masquerading as a protester, and putting all this energy into my neice’s husband?”

“Don’t know. Maybe one or both of them are mixed up with those guys with the bombs down in Bridgeport.”

Dan scoffed. “Aw, come on, John, you know that’s trumped up to increase pressure on the protesters and freak out the public. Those guys were targeted from the start by posting that video.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxBJIWdHvD0&feature=relmfu

“Sounding like  a hippie radical, there, Dan.”

“All I care about is the law and what’s right and wrong, and this stinks big.”

“Well, then you’ll really love this,” said John. “Seems a couple of FBI snipers got bumped off the roof of the Field Museum.”

“I don’t follow.”

“A new team will be up there from a security company that Representative Rand set up a few months ago. Seems he’s looking to secure a security contract for his new company and asked that these guys  be on the detail.”

“I don’t see…”

“They won’t report to anyone. Freelancers.”


“A couple of former merc from Afghanistan>”

“John, what the hell is going on?”

The big man stood, pursed his lips and shook his head once. “I’d warn you to walk away from this one and hope that it all works out for your niece, but something tells me you won’t.”



It was a game for Blaze and Rebel Rose, but a deadly serious one. The goal, as they sat across from each other in the small plaza, beside a Chagall mosaic, they piggyback on a nearby businessman’s WiFi, not that he would have ever known. The goal, to break into Koffer Industries security system, or anything else they could get into at Koffer Industries and root around for anything to help Jack and Eva, and the growing suspicious that something terrible was in the offing for  the Occupy movement.

A few blocks away, police blocked protesters from crossing the Michigan Avenue bridge. Along Franklin, sixty heavily armed officers in riot gear oiled into ten big white unmarked vans and raced off at high speed to bolster their ranks at the bridge.

“In  yet, bitch?” Rebel chided.

Blaze frowned without looking up at her. “Getting there.”

“You hack like my grandmother screws.”

“Frequently and without remorse,” he shot back bringing a laugh from Rebel.

“Well I am in and , holy shit!”


“I’m scrolling through the security tapes from elevators.”

“Wow, you are a hacking genius,” he teased.

Rebel spun the laptop around. “Eat this, freak.”

She’d managed to get the security camera trained on the hall to Tom Koffer’s office. It didn’t actually show the office, but the sign on the wall beside the elevator reading “Mr Koffer: By appointment only.” There was a date at the bottom of the screen and a time scrolling quickly. And though there was no audio, the video was clear.

“How did you find the right…?’

Angelo appeared, leaving Tom Koffer’s office. As Rebel Rose talked, Blaze was typing madly in his own computer.

“Simple, I just typed it in once I got into the system and it came right up. You guys always overthink shit.’



“Are you downloading this sh…Oh, crap, our piggyback is about to leave.”

The unsuspecting guy was pack up his things, walking his lunch trash over to the garbage. Rebel Rose was already up, stopping him before he reached his things.

“Got a cigarette?” she asked.

“Don’t smoke, said the guy, looking to be in his early to mid thirties, in an expensive suit.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“I don’t really have anything to spare,” he replied mechanically, thinking the punkish young girl was hitting him up for money.

“Not that,” she flirted. “You are silly. My very gay friend over there said you would never go out with a girl like me and…”

He waved his hand in the air, showing off a gold wedding band. “Married.”

“Married, not dead, and I right?”

He laughed uncomfortably. Rebel kept blocking him from the computer. “I, uh, I really have to get back.”

“Aw,” she groaned, “so I am going to lose the bet. I will never live this down.”

“Listen, I’m sure you are a very lovely girl, but…”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out. It’s just, I never really liked guys my own age and I was watching you and thought you were really attractive…

“I really have to…” a blush rising to his cheeks.

Blaze turned and threw a thumb in the  air. “Got it!”

“What’s he got?” asked the man.

“Aids,” she said. “He’s got Aids. Got to go!”

They scooped up their things and laughed all the way down Dearborn until they reached the river. The battle for the Michigan Avenue Bridge was over, the protesters turning south.  Blaze and Rebel scrolled through several days of footage before a familiar face appeared. They isolated the video, then the video of two other “military types” who appeared a few minutes later.

“Who are these assholes?”

Rebel shrugged. She’d been working on something else as well of a couple of days. She was fighting all sorts of encryption, firewalls and protocols at three of the largest cellphone companies, scrolling through customer lists once she was in. At last the name she was looking for popped up. A little extra digging and call lists came up. There were a number of calls placed from Rand to Koffer’s office. Rebel and Blaze hadn’t a clue what exactly it meant, but they could now connect all five men.

“We have to  find Eva.”


Angelo thought this could go a number of ways. He was prepared for each of them. He was too close to the end of the mission, a time in which the humanity of the so-called collateral damage was incidental. The mission was at the tipping point; to one side disaster, and to the other side success. He approached the couple, unable to read their expressions. He stopped at the table. There was a pistol in his pocket. His hand was on it, and he was prepared to use it if necessary.

Given everything he knew now, somewhere deep down inside Jack grew an indefinable rage. For what Angelo had done to his family, there was a part of him that wished to choke the life out of the man. When Angelo held out a hand, jack thought to play along.

“I’m sorry about that shit at the GA,” said Angelo,  “but I…can I sit?”

Angelo didn’t wait for an answer. He sat beside Eva. She chewed her lip, thinking that her heart might beat from her chest.

“I know who set you up, but I need your help. I’m  supposed to meet him Sunday at the protest. Come with me and we’ll clear this whole thing up.”

“If you know all this, why don’t you just go to the police?” said Jack.

“Because I can’t, not without proof, and he has it. We take care of that and you’re home free and back with your family. You and Eva want that, don’t you?”

“Can I talk to Eva alone for a minute?”

Jack had to go. Eva was against it and wanted to go to the police with what they knew. But there was no way. The police wouldn’t buy the conspiracy angle without direct proof, and that was still lacking. There was no choice. Eva followed them into the street as they disappeared down Wells. She pulled her phone and returned the SIM card and battery and snapped them back into place. There was a new voice mail. It was rebel Rose.

21 Days in May: an Occupy novella, part twenty-two

Exclusion zone. The authorities might have used Spielberg’s plotline from Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” in which the government panicked ranchers and small town folk away from Devil’s Tower, making them believe a nerve agent was some apocalyptically deadly disease. The goal was to make sure only a chosen few ever really knew about the aliens arrival at the mountain.

Downtown Chicago was Devil’s Tower, and the aliens here were the NATO leaders come to make war decisions without questioning to the mounting monumental funds being allotted, primarily to the benefit of big business. One only had to look at the veterans benefits already being slashed by this government, while cuts to the defense industry were never once or ever seriously in question.

But a city of eight million can’t be emptied, and so fear must become the ultimate tool of the exclusion. A message can’t be extinguished in a free society, and so dissent must be statuted to death in favor of public safety. A no-fly zone was declared over the city-no doubt because protesters had learned to fly as well, or that waves of terrorist Kamikazes were waiting in the wings. Military and police helicopters filled the skies and Air Force F-16s buzzed the city and would be on patrol through the weekend.  The Chicago Tribune advertised their online constant updates to navigating NATO protests. Cordons of police, some in riot gear were ubiquitous everywhere. Scowling private security was suddenly prominent in front of near every building. Companies circulated security and commuting alerts, and many closed early Friday and closed completely for Monday. The Boeing plaza and building were entirely sealed off, all of this supposedly over the specter of the violence by protesters. The papers called downtown the Red Zone, but it was truly an Exclusion Zone.

Jack’s mind was spinning, those thoughts complicated by the excitement he felt at seeing Eva, if only for a few precious moments. He was thinking of the Bridgeport Nine, and how simple it was to plant the notion in the public’s perception that the protesters had a terrorist side. But that they had very obviously been set up as a means to discredit Occupy and add a new level of fear to the public oddly gave Jack a bit of hope, though it was likewise wrapped in a single heartbreaking realization.

This intimidation was nothing short of a direct attack, the de facto criminalization against a legal political ideology, and that was Liberalism and progressivism, both entirely at odds with the power and influence aspirations of corporate and banking power. The police,  who belonged to unions attacked by that power, who relied on affordable healthcare under attack by that power, and who would retire to a social security pension lusted after by that power became the blunt-force dupes for that power. No one was detaining militant gun rights advocates, or storming into the apartments of rabid anti-abortionists. This was a new, insidious and violent America. It was the institutionalization of oppression against points of view and the assumption of promised constitutional rights now under direct revocation by a militaristic security state.

Jack took advantage of the construction chaos in the south loop to skirt the authorities. For a time that beautifully warm afternoon those tall downtown canyons of shadow and light were as hectic as ever. The rally in Daley Plaza by National Nurses United challenged the security forces, if not in numbers then certainly in passion, demanding a penny, a penny, A PENNY tax from financial transaction trades to pay for healthcare in America. The cheers of almost 3000 gathered challenged the security helicopters hovering overhead.

He slipped into an alley off Van Buren Street, pausing behind a garbage dumpster as a line of bicycle police passed on Jackson Street. It was just past the lunch hour, and the sidewalk crowds were already thinning. Jack stepped from the Alley and turned east, as if he was stepping into a rushing river.

A few years back he and Eva had stumbled upon a lunch-rush spot called “Lukes” between Wells and Adams. The place served decent fast-food fair for the price, which is what made the place so popular. From noon to one-ish weekdays seating in red plastic chairs and faux-wood Formica tables was at premium. Eva always loved the French fries here, a silly thing, but any city-slicker worth their salt (no pun intended) could rattle off a list of their top ten places from fries in the city. The tables were emptying quickly now.  Jack found one facing the door and waited.

A few away, Angelo hovered over a laptop in a Starbucks. He’d been tracking Eva through much of the day. He’d tracked her to the Loop, where she’d hovered at the fringes of the Nurses rally before slowly moving south. He’d picked the Starbucks as a sort of base of operations to lead him to Jack. When she turned off her phone at Adams and Dearborn it made little difference. The program that allowed him to track her by the cellphone was simple. He could switch it on when he chose without her knowledge to hear everything she was saying. It was a tactic coalition forces had uses successfully against the Taliban in Afghanistan.   

Eva failed to notice but she passed right by him on the way to meet Jack. She was anxious, and could almost feel the throngs of police she passed on each corner watching her, as if they all knew the secret she kept, as if they were all waiting for her to lead them directly to Jack. He packed up and followed at a distance. Everything was falling right into place, thought Angelo.

She was almost trembling when she reached Lukes, more so when she spotted a lost and forlorn looking Jack sitting at a table alone. He looked a sight, exhausted, in need of a shave, and almost silly in the Cubs hat and Jersey. A wave of intense emotion, far too complex to describe in mere words swept her.  She pulled open the door and went in. Jack noticed her immediately, as if there was some ethereal bond connecting them. He didn’t stand, but his eyes widened and his mouth fell open as if he might suddenly cry out. Eva noted a light come to his face that was absent there a moment before.

Eva slid into the chair opposite Jack and couldn’t help take his cold hand in hers. It was as much excitement as they dared. Not thirty yards away Angelo had found a new vantage point from which to monitor them both. He opened the laptop and activated Eva’s phone. Luke’s was loud, and the sounds were muffled in Eva’s pocket, but he could make out their voices through the earphones plugged into the laptop well enough.

“Jack you look terrible,” Eva said. She wanted to fly out of the seat and hold him, kiss him and take him home.

“Yeah, well,” he said, swept in his own tidal wave of emotion. “… anyway, you look, I am so sorry for all this.”

“Jack,” she lowered her voice a bit. The place was emptying out more quickly now. “Jack, I know you are innocent.”

“I hope so.”

“No, and I can…”

Jack cut her off; suddenly worried they could be monitored. “Wait, I need a pen.”

Eva pulled a pen from her purse and gave it to Jack. He took a napkin from a nearby table and scribbled quickly these words. “Take the SIM card from your phone.”

She looked at him confused. Jack scribbled again.

“We can be monitored even if the phone is off.”

Quickly she pulled off the back of the phone and removed the battery, which has better than half the weight of the palm-sized phone. The SIM card came out easily  with a slight press of the thumb. Angelo’s  signal went dead. He swore under his breath. Eva leaned close to Jack.

“Remember Blasé and Rebel Rose?”

“Of course, they…”

“They did a little snooping. Your friend Angelo is not who he pretends. He’s a mercenary named Carrera, Jack, and somehow he’s connected to the Koffer brothers and Koffer Industries, and all that ALEC bullshit. And then yesterday I see that Republican Congressman Rand calling Occupy terrorists.”

“Nothing new with him.”

“Jack, he was coming out of Koffer Industries.”

Pieces suddenly came together. Jack sat back, staring away into space. His eyes flashed to Eva’s. She knew as well.

“So he framed me for some…to discredit the protests…But how does one person figure in that. The police were able to do that easy enough with those arrests down in Bridgeport. Why go through all of this…?”

“I don’t know, unless this is bigger than what the police were doing.”

“It has to…” Jack stopped, the blood running from his face, as if he’d seen a ghost. His gaze was to the door. Eva turned to find Angelo standing there.


21 Days in May; an Occupy novella, part twenty-one

The NATO summits had only revealed fully what many feared was emerging in America. No longer was this the  stuff of fiction, or the Hollywood fantasy of Gestapo agents and Nazi  stormtroopers exacting justice on a whim, as if judges and courts and laws were their individual domain, and a sacred language only they understood.

Was it really possible to destroy a man through the art of propaganda. Was the media, acting in conspiracy with the police state complicit in fabricating pure fiction from the fertile ground of lazy and unquestioning minds, until belief superseded truth and reason and skepticism? The headline that d ay in the Chicago Tribune screamed that difference:

Bridgeport arrests: Molotov cocktails or brewing equipment?

By Rosemary R. Sobol, Jeremy Gorner and Todd LightyTribune reporters

5:33 p.m. CDT, May 18, 2012

As the NATO summit nears, Chicago police detained at least nine people in an investigation into the alleged making of Molotov cocktails, but four were released today without charges…The nine ranged in age from their 20s to a 66-year-old grandfather with a heart condition. Several were with the Occupy movement…Building residents described black-clad police officers with battering rams and guns drawn coming into the building, searching their apartments and refusing to tell them what was going on. One resident told the Tribune police taunted him and his roommate, repeatedly calling them communists and using anti-gay slurs…Darrin Annussek, 36, one of the Bridgeport nine who was released today, described being handcuffed and shackled for 18 hours in an “interrogation room.” He said police refused his request to use a restroom and did not read him his constitutional rights.

“None of us were told why this was happening,” Annussek told reporters Friday outside the Harrison District station this afternoon.

Annussek, who had the numbers “1968” scrawled in magic marker on his right wrist from when police processed him, said police told him he was being held on a “conspiracy” charge. A social worker who got laid off, Annussek arrived in Chicago in time for the May Day march. He said he began marching in November from Philadelphia and Atlanta, “to try and spread the positive message of Occupy Wall Street.”

“To be charged with felony conspiracy to endanger anybody’s life is not only a slap in the face, it’s against everything I stand for,” he said.

William Vassilakis, who said he was hosting those who were arrested, said there were no materials to create a explosive device. Instead, Vassilakis said police confiscated supplies he uses to make beer.police would not answer their questions or show them a search warrant. “The only thing we were told was that we were in the middle of an investigation,” he said.

Police looked through books in the apartment, finding feminist writings and a book about the selected writings of Karl Marx, best known for his Communist Manifesto.  The resident said police repeatedly called him and his roommate communists, used anti-gay slurs and teased them about going to jail.the officer took a more confrontational tone and started quizzing him about the photo on his phone’s home screen, which he described as a “fantasy painting.”

“He asked me, ‘What’s the deal with the photo?’ and that’s when he called for backup,” the man said.

Two more officers came upstairs and “that’s when he pulled me out and they searched my place,” he said. The man added that the officer took his phone away from him for 15 to 20 minutes while the search was going on.

Before the search of his own apartment ended, the man said, the police officer said he would only return his phone if he agreed to show police the photos stored on his phone “to show that I had no association” with the people downstairs.

The man said he did not know the group in the apartment below and that he has not participated in any political demonstrations.

The officers never physically mishandled him, he said. “They were very nice about stomping on my civil rights…”

But the message was unequivocal and had been rendered loudly and clearly. Somewhere within that rendering was the line between fiction and reality, between fact and untruths masquerading as truth. All were woven so artfully that one was completely indistinguishable from the other. The corporate media sold consumption and gluttony, but couldn’t sell it to a wise and informed populace. Politician’s could hardly dupe and educated people, so truth and reality and fact had to be undone. They could not simply be destroyed, they had to be undermined and confused in the minds of the public, so that each person called reality into question on their own accord.

And so a bunch of “commie faggot hippies” were roughed up, jailed, their civil liberties violated. It was the same for the guy walking along Michigan Avenue who was stopped searched and questioned by three plain clothed officers. So the population had been so animated by fear of the protesters, that the public could rightly claim they had no clue what the protests were about. Individually these things would be forgotten. Together they sent a clear and undeniable message.

Freedom and democracy in America was being eradicated. Dissent, while not explicitly a crime was now essentially a crime. It affirmed an ideal  surrendered and squandered by older generations, and shouted to their legacies that freedom isn’t a right or even a privilege any more in America, but an allowance, barely tolerated by men with power and guns. While not explicitly a crime, freedom and dissent were essentially crimes.  


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