The Quiet Riot lyrics that have been spinning around inside my head have been begging me to write this post after seeing news coverage tonight of the Target Center riot in “Minnenannapolis” (as Donald Trump thinks it’s called).
After I heard that Trump was planning on coming to a campaign rally in Minneapolis (that’s what I think it’s called), I optimistically hoped that there wouldn’t be enough Minnesotans to show up to fill the 19,000 seat Target Center and that team Trump would call the rally off to avoid the embarrassment of Trump potentially taking out a Sharpie and drawing Minnesotans in photos of empty Target Center seats. Much to my dismay, Minnesotans aren’t as overwhelmingly decent as I had hoped they were, and they eagerly claimed their tickets to the event, along with people from Wisconsin and Iowa. In case it turned out to be true that it would be a packed event center, I was debating what to do to counter the outpouring of support for a man who has used the office of the presidency for his own corrupt benefit.
Because I’m a writer, my go to response when I’m unhappy about something is: I’ll write about it. I typically write with the hope that I’ll inspire or entertain or encourage others. Over the past three years, I’ve actually started writing several posts about Donald Trump and the spineless Republican Congress, but I’ve ended up deleting them, because I desire to be mostly respectful toward people who hold different opinions than me, even when those opinions are clearly misinformed. As a result, I have only allowed myself to post a small fraction of my writing involving concerns about Donald Trump.
Despite my efforts to be a peacemaker, it became clear to me that using respect and a voice of reason to interact with people who support a fascist egomaniac was pointless. People who support leaders with dictatorial tendencies do not view the world through the same lens as I do. I view the world from the perspective of desiring to help make life feel good for everyone. People who support Donald Trump apparently have a more narrow view of the world and, I guess, support Donald Trump because they personally benefit in some way from him being in power and honestly do not care how many people get hurt by Donald Trump’s unbridled executive power. I’m okay with this post offending those kind of Trump-supporting people. I prefer to associate with people who are able to empathize with the human condition, anyway. I had decided over the past three years that my frustrated energy and desire to write would be better spent developing a novel that mocks such self-serving political behavior. I hope to make enough in book sales to make significant donations to people who have been injured by Donald Trump’s existence.
Since impeachment inquiry information has been made public and investigative reporters are doing a great job of connecting the dots and providing even more investigative leads to follow, I can’t help but feel complicit in the unchecked terrorizing reign of Donald Trump. Before the election, I was very vocal about why people should not consider voting for someone like him. People ignored me, mocked me, quit speaking to me . . . I fantasize daily about those same people crawling back into my life and telling me I was right about Donald Trump’s character and dangerous “leadership” style. After Trump was elected (and I was done screaming in dismay) I started a group for people of various political viewpoints to dialogue, move closer to understanding one another, and work together to promote human decency. As I promoted the group, it was clear that Trump’s base had no desire to engage in respectful conversation because they were busy swallowing and regurgitating every racist, xenophobic, nationalist, dictatorial, conspiratorial, purely idiotic comment that fell out of Trump’s mouth. From my personal experience with cult members, I could tell that much of Trump’s base had been brainwashed. I don’t really care for conflict, and I knew that would be the result of regularly posting my thoughts about Trump. I was tired of getting attacked by Trump supporters, so I focused on writing that novel.
When protest opportunities arose the past three years, I participated in a couple, but mostly felt that the presence of my body wouldn’t really make a difference—especially in cold weather because I have a rheumatic disease and my weak, shivering body would just call attention to me instead of a message of protest. But as a result of Donald Trump and his supportive cronies telling one lie after another regarding illegally soliciting Ukraine’s help in defeating a potential opponent in the 2020 election, I decided that, if the weather was nice tonight, I would make a protest sign listing everyone Donald Trump has hurt (it was going to be a really long sign that a bunch of people would have to carry), and I would stand beside other people protesting Trump’s toxic leadership and his threat to our national security.
Right after Trump was elected, my personalized version of protesting was designing and wearing a t-shirt that said on the front, “Mr. President, please don’t grab my . . .” and on the back, it said, “ . . . dignity!” I wore it often the first six months of Trump’s presidency when I went shopping and ran other errands, but eventually the fear for my safety didn’t seem worth the statement I was trying to make. My shirt had the website address of the group I had formed to discuss political matters, and I worried that Trump supporters could use it to track me down and hurt me. I discovered just how rabid some of Trump’s base was in the suburban Minnesota communities where I wore my t-shirt. In light of that, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Minnesotans turned out in droves and were frighteningly fired up to attend Trump’s campaign rally tonight at the Target Center. And I also shouldn’t have been surprised that there was rioting outside the Target Center.
Without the presence of riot gear, I feel like there would have been only “fights,” or “altercations” at the Target Center tonight. I don’t know what the riot gear standard is, but the fact that the police presence at the Target Center was equipped and ready on the spot with their riot helmets, shields, batons, and tear gas disturbs me. It causes me to be concerned that some cops were looking for a fight, and wanted to make it look like protesters were “rioting.” Police were told this week that Minneapolis officers attending the Trump rally while off duty were not allowed to wear the Minneapolis police uniform. I saw police interviewed about it on the news who were foaming a bit at the mouth over being told they couldn’t mix their personal and professional lives when showing support for Trump. I had my own encounter with a cop this afternoon who was apparently ready for a fight. Even though I grew up near small towns and was familiar with the corruption that could exist among law enforcement, I tended to give them the benefit of the doubt and come to the defense of cops because “there’s a few bad apples in every profession.” After today, I’m afraid of cops. I know it doesn’t sound logical or fair to make a global statement like that, so I guess I should clarify and say: I’m afraid of anyone with adrenaline coursing through their body who has a gun.
Mike Pence was making an appearance today at a sign shop in a Twin Cities suburb where I get groceries at Target. Because I go for regular walks in the area and saw a fence go up around the sign shop a couple days ago, I knew he would be a few miles from my Target store and that there could be related traffic issues. But I thought I would be done getting groceries and be back home before his vice-presidential motorcade caused any traffic problems. I got delayed while picking out Halloween treats for my nephew, my daughter, my daughter’s partner, my daughter’s cats (I love Halloween). So, by the time I left Target, the parking lot was surrounded by cops who were preventing traffic from traveling onto the road where the sign shop was or to get onto I-35, the road I wanted to take. At one point, there were nine cop cars blocking one Target exit. It appeared as if the police force was prepared to have someone attempt to drive an armored tank through a barricade to see Mike Pence at the insignificant sign shop. I thought about going over to the cops and telling them that Pence is simply not that popular. Instead, I took out my phone to get a photo of our tax payer dollars at work. When I did, a cop standing in the middle of the Target exit reached down and then raised his fist at me. It wasn’t the “Get off my lawn” kind of fist raising. It was the same arm motion that a cop would use to either punch me in the face or draw his gun and shoot me. His gesture was so threatening that I felt, well, threatened. My reaction was to take another photo of him in case he actually did shoot me, so that there would be a clear record of who my shooter was. As I drove through a maze of back roads to get home, I thought about how, if I was a black man, there’s a really good chance I could have gotten shot for pulling out and raising my phone. And that brought me full circle to part of the reason why I despise Donald Trump: because of the racism and xenophobia he promotes, and the American, Mexican, Muslim, and now, Kurdish lives he endangers every day.
Donald Trump normalizes and encourages all forms of aggression against marginalized people. The only people he has propped up and expressed a desire to support are thugs and dictators in the countries where he has Trump hotels or wants to build hotels. By the time I took my long, thoughtful detour home after getting groceries, I had really wished I was among the protesters at the Target Center. I hate literally everything Trump represents. Each thing that’s revealed through the impeachment inquiry adds to that mountain of reasons for me to despise him and want Trump and Pence held accountable for their corruption.
When I saw riot coverage on the ten o’clock news tonight, and saw that Trump’s campaign team callously played “Purple Rain” even though Prince’s estate asked him not to, I deeply regretted that I wasn’t there among the protesters in the cold rain . My one body doesn’t make a difference in a protest, but there were thousands of bodies there tonight that, together, made a statement. If everyone in Minnesota who is opposed to the corruption and threat to national security inflicted upon our country by Trump stood at the Target Center tonight in protest, I imagine the line would have been so long that it would have extended all the way to my house 45 miles away from Minneapolis. And then I could have stood in the warmth of my entry way and pinned my long protest sign listing everyone Trump has hurt to the clothesline instead of having to hold it. A gathering of bodies like that standing in protest would have made a huge statement about how the majority of Minnesota feels about Donald Trump.
America’s dignity has been stolen by Donald Trump. No, I take that back—America’s dignity has been handed to Donald Trump by the people who elected him and by those of us who did not stand up to audibly scream every single day when it was clear he held an unchecked executive office handed to him by the Republican Senate. Through my respectful silence I have been complicit in his reign of terror. I’m done being silent. Based on what I’ve been hearing the last couple of weeks since the impeachment inquiry began, other people are also done being silent.
A quaking started in this country that was caused the frightening leadership of Trump and his Twitter tantrums. But lately there’s been a notable rumbling going on. There’s a shifting of the political plates underfoot, and it’s caused by decent, respectful people, who look through a lens that causes them to care about the condition of other people. Our country has suffered long enough under the self-serving presidency of Donald Trump. For three years, those of us who don’t support Trump have been asking the wrong question: “What will it take to finally shake his base?” We should be asking: “What can I do to call attention to Trump’s unacceptable criminal activity?” One thing Trump and his base have taught those of us with more respectful tendencies is that the loudest side wins. It’s way past time for team Human Decency to stand up and make some real noise. As I did three years ago, I’m once again publicly stating that Donald Trump is corrupt and will threaten our national security if he goes unchecked because he is a self-serving narcissistic egomaniac.
It’s too late for me to join in tonight’s protest at the Target Center, but to Donald Trump and your corrupt Republican enablers, I now scream at the top of my lungs:
I think you’ve “got an evil mind.”
“I got the voice
to make the noise.
Won’t ever let up.
Hope it annoys you.”
You will be held accountable,
and it’s going to get “wild, wild, wild.”
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© 2019 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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