Like other protests and uprisings around the world (Turkey, Brazil, Egypt), I've been following the current events in Ukraine with great interest. As a protester and witness at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in downtown Manhattan, fall 2011, I'm ever inspired by the courage and tenacity of people who stand up against an oppressive and violent police state (even though I don't condone violent resistance). This is one major way in which the people of New York City, and really of the whole country, failed the demonstrators at Zuccotti Park and similar so-called occupations across the US. Countless instances of police brutality against truly peaceful demonstrators were recorded and widely disseminated both online and in (a few... very few) channels of the mainstream media, but still people in the US did not respond.
I won't speculate as to why folks didn't respond (at least not here, now); but the fact remains. So watching such revolutionary events unfold in other places - it's just energizing.
Now, I won't trivialize the issues in Ukraine with any commentary on the motivations of the protesters, government, or police. While I've maintained a cursory understanding of what everyone is after, I really can't speak to the legitimacy of the protesters' initial outcry or to the alleged (and seemingly very real) police misconduct. It's a complicated situation, there are two sides to every story, "the police are just doing their job," and all that malarky (having been at OWS myself and heard similar comments - dismissals - about it, I use "malarky" with much calculation).
Rather, what I wish to highlight here is one particular tactic that emerged from Kiev a couple weeks ago and that strikes me as effective, peaceful, and - best of all - beautiful.
For one thing, it should terrify the officer to see him or herself approaching in the mirror - the same terror that the protesters feel whenever the police come at them. Secondly, the police must - they must - come to terms with who they are and what they've become.
I tried a similar tactic at OWS. When the police would follow us on a march, I would pick one or two of them, to speak as their conscience. It went something along these lines:
This is your conscience speaking! Why are you doing this? Can't you see that these are peaceful demonstrators? Why are you taking out your baton? These people are not armed! Don't just follow orders, listen to what I'm telling you. I'm your conscience! What I'm saying to you now should take precedence over whatever you're hearing in your earpiece.
I'm not sure how effective this tactic was, as it seemed at the time that those police officers still refused to obey their conscience. But who knows what impact it may have had? It certainly looks like the officer in the photo above is having a moment of deep introspection.
Then again, maybe he's thinking about how he's going to snatch the mirror from the woman's hand and bash her on the head with it. Whatever it takes to quash a peaceful redress of grievances, I guess (it's all in a day's work!).
Perhaps the prospect of peaceful revolution in Ukraine is bygone, but I still anticipate such a movement in the US. Here's hoping that if - when - the police come at us again, the rest of y'all won't just stand idly by.
And - if you do decide to join us - be sure to bring your mirrors.