The Third of November may someday be recognized as one of the most important days in our history, right up there with the Fourth of July. Maybe that’s just the endorphins talking, but I don’t know how history can view it any other way.
Two days ago, three million people marched through Washington D.C. calling for climate justice. We were violently attacked by anti-green militias. We were harassed and dispersed by government and corporate security forces. The arrests and intimidation reduced our numbers to about a million. We were driven from the Capitol and scattered throughout the city. We spent a day regrouping and discussing our next move. Then, at the break of dawn on the Third of November, we made our next move.
We decided to occupy the Capitol.
Some refused to participate in the action. Since Congress wasn’t currently in session, and all of our legislators had surely fled to various bunkers and safe houses around the country, this would be a largely symbolic act. Even if we did somehow manage to occupy the building, we wouldn’t magically gain control over the government.
But maybe there was a little magic afoot, because that’s not too far from what happened.
I’m sure a million different people will tell this story a million different ways. I don’t have a complete picture of what happened because communications were down. I’m only just now learning some of the bigger details from people who did have better access to TV and the internet, which obviously can only be trusted so far. But here’s my take on today’s events.
After the march was attacked and dispersed, the demonstrators who stayed in the city were communicating with each other in various ways: walkie talkies, short wave radios, apps that communicate with each other wirelessly even when there’s no phone or internet service. The government or Bastion made some effort to block these communications, but they weren’t entirely successful. I also have no doubt that they were listening. But we talked anyway.
Honestly, the fact that government and corporate agents were listening may have worked in our favor. After the first attempt to take the Capitol, most of us were feeling deeply discouraged, myself included. It seemed like everyone was about ready to pack up and go home. Maybe that lead the security forces to switch from crowd control mode to mop-up mode. Or maybe not. Who knows.
What I do know is that in the wee hours of the night, while many of us were sleeping, support grew for the idea of one more attempt at taking the Capitol. By the time I woke up, it was still only an idea, a suggestion, a bit of wishful thinking. Less than an hour later, we had the Capitol surrounded again.
The sound of helicopters and drones had almost fallen silent during the night. But as we gathered at the Capitol, all of those government and corporate aircraft returned, filling the sky with an incessant buzzing that set everyone on edge. There were visibly fewer black-clad troops guarding the barricades this morning, but it was still an intimidating sight — a wall of thousands of heavily armed troops backed up by armored vehicles, various aircraft, and the advanced crowd control technology that had dispersed us so thoroughly before.
At first, I didn’t even realize that Bastion had entirely taken over the front line duties. The actual police were nowhere to be seen. After it all went down, I heard rumors that the police went on a limited strike, agreeing to fight the remaining CMC in the city but refusing to deal with the crowd anymore. I don’t know if this is true or not, but the rumor is that fighting side by side with the Green Guard to save their own lives helped sway the police in favor of the demonstrators. Most of them probably had some sympathy for us anyway. They just needed an excuse to justify siding with a bunch of “unruly guests” who seemed to be breaking the law. And at the end of the day, these people signed up to be police officers, not soldiers in a war zone. Being thrust into a wildly dangerous firefight between green and anti-green militias may have been enough to make them go on strike regardless of which side they supported.
Anyway, maybe we’ll find out more details in the coming days as Congress conducts its hearings. For whatever reasons, the police weren’t there this morning. It was thousands of Bastion troops backed up by thousands of National Guard.
There wasn’t much hesitation on the part of the demonstrators. Jalen and I were hiding out nearby, so we got there while the crowd was still gathering. As soon as the crowd swelled to stretch as far as the eye could see, people near the front started shouting “Here Comes The Tide! Here Comes The Tide!” and surging forward into the “no protest” area in front of the barricades.
There also wasn’t any hesitation on the part of the Bastion troops. The ones in the front raised their riot shields while the ones behind them opened fire with a variety of munitions: rubber bullets, electroshock bullets, bean bags, and even some weird ones like little rings filled with gas. They also had a few new handheld weapons that used microwaves, or pulsed energy, or who knows what else. In the back of my mind, as we all charged forward, I felt like we were all guinea pigs in some Bastion experiment. Which “non-lethal” weapons work best at controlling a crowd of a million people in an urban environment? I’m sure some unscrupulous lab geeks were watching live video feeds and taking copious notes.
As for me, I was hit twice by rubber bullets, at least twice that I remember. Don’t let anyone tell you that those bullets are harmless toys. One hit me square in the chest, which knocked the wind out of me and bruised my breast severely. I was left gasping for breath for a while as other people rushed past me. The other rubber bullet grazed my head, which hurt like hell and left me dazed for a moment as I figured out what the hell had just happened. If I’d been standing about an inch to the left, it could have shattered my temple or hit me in the eye! What’s wrong with these people?
They kept knocking us down, but we kept coming. There were just too many of us. Some people had improvised shields that they started bashing against the Bastion shield wall, trying to push their way through the barricades. Just like on Friday, various aircraft started closing in and dropping additional teargas, smoke bombs, and flashbangs on the crowd below.
But then our first miracle of the day happened.
Suddenly, the sky was full of these strange green aircraft. Each one was about the size of a watermelon, but they were all shaped like some type of fat metal insects, with multiple arms that flailed in the wind and flashed bright lights up at the sky. Hundreds of them started pouring out of nearby buildings. A few of them were set loose from the crowd itself. Rumor has it that an international team of tech geeks came up with the idea weeks ago and worked with a few small teams on the ground in D.C. to pull it off. I’d bet any money that Ermete was involved, but he never even told me about the project. Sneaky.
These green bugs swarmed around all of the other flying craft, ganging up on a few at a time until the targets pulled away or crashed into buildings. It was actually dangerous to the crowd at times as the target drones smashed into buildings and tumbled into the crowd below. Some of our people probably got hurt in the process. But honestly, I doubt it was very many people. Most of the green bugs survived for long enough to move on to the helicopters. The helicopters, of course, had little patience for the swarms. They opened fire, shooting down some of the green bugs as they approached. But ultimately, most of the green bugs got through. The helicopters retreated, if only to regroup and try again.
For about a minute, most of the people I saw on the ground took a break from their fighting to look up at this aerial battle. Once it was clear that the green swarm was winning, at least for the time being, the crowd went wild. I did too. I was yelling, cheering, even jumping up and down in excitement at the sight of it. But then I realized that little creatures may have created a narrow window of opportunity. So I turned back to the Capitol. Jalen wasn’t far from me, so I motioned for him to follow me and we continued the push forward.
I can only imagine how the Bastion troops felt at that moment. They seemed so intimidating and invincible to us at the time, but we outnumbered them at least a hundred to one. They must have felt threatened by the loss of air support, so some people in the back stepped forward and started firing lethal rounds into the crowd.
It was another senseless loss of life. At this point, I was still over a block away from the front lines, so I didn’t really see the worst of it. But it must have been ugly. I heard the shots and eventually saw some of the bodies. Bastion just opened fire on the crowd with lethal rounds, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds more in a very short amount of time. Assault rifles are ruthlessly efficient machines, after all. They weren’t firing indiscriminately, either. I could see some Bastion troops from their positions on top of armored vehicles. They were clearly taking the time to aim, presumably shooting the closest demonstrators one by one until they went down. Some people near the front of the crowd also pulled out small weapons and started firing back, but they were clearly at a disadvantage. It was the start of what would have been a tremendous bloodbath.
That’s when the second miracle of the day happened.
I had all but forgotten about the National Guard troops. They were far behind the barricades, positioned tightly around the Capitol building itself, standing at the ready in case the Bastion front lines fell. But when Bastion started firing lethal rounds, the National Guard stepped into action. I don’t know if Bastion had broken the rules of engagement laid out by the government, or if the National Guard commanders got tired of watching Americans gunned down in the streets by mercenaries, or some combination of the two. But the shift was very sudden. I could see some of the National Guard troops in the distance on the steps of the Capitol. They all raised their weapons at the Bastion lines while some officer barked orders through a bullhorn. After a few moments of back and forth between Bastion and the National Guard, the Bastion troops gradually stopped firing. There was about a minute of tense silence before a voice boomed out of a few dozen of the armored vehicles nearby.
“The National Guard has informed us that our security services are no longer needed at this time. We do, however, retain our God-given right to self-defense. Please allow Bastion personnel and property to leave the area in a safe and orderly manner. Any acts of aggression will be responded to in kind. Thank you for choosing Bastion as your security solution.”
For a moment, there was a stunned silence. When the Bastion troops actually started stepping back from the barricades and getting down from their perches on top of armored vehicles, the crowd all around me started cheering and shouting in joy. People near the front — including me — started rushing to tend to the wounded. But the people farther back who had a lot less wounded to deal with started singing and chanting.
There was a period of maybe fifteen or twenty minutes where people on all sides just stopped and recovered for a while. Jalen had a serious bullet wound to his good arm, so I spent some time using his med kit to clean and bandage the wound for him. I’m not very experienced with first aid, but I have basic training, and he was still conscious and alert enough to give me guidance and support. He also pointed out that I had a fairly serious gash on my thigh, which honestly I don’t remember getting. I cleaned and bandaged that too.
While Bastion troops started loading into vehicles and marching away in columns, a few of the National Guard troops started setting up these big white walls at major intersections near the Capitol. At first I thought it might be some new type of barricade, but it was very flimsy and didn’t even begin to cover the intersections. But then I realized that they were big video screens. Some of the government’s sonic trucks started rolling up next to these screens to provide the audio for what came next. A few of the helicopters came back to provide audio for the people blocks and blocks away from us who couldn’t see any screens or hear the audio up front.
And that’s when the third and final miracle happened.
After a few minutes, two faces appeared on the screen. One was the Speaker of the House. The other was the Green Party candidate for President — who I should mention no one had seen or heard from since the start of the Purge! After both women introduced themselves, the Speaker of the House spoke.
“My fellow Americans, I come bearing good news. Your actions have moved many hearts and minds in this great nation, including the hearts and minds of many of my colleagues in the House and Senate. While we may disagree with your methods, we have come to understand and share some of your grievances. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I have personally negotiated the immediate release of the majority of individuals arrested during Operation Decisive Sweep.”
Everyone started shouting and cheering. Some wounded people who should have stayed immobile started limping and hopping around in their excitement. For a moment, all I could think about was Jess. I had to struggle to pay attention and strain my ears just to hear the rest of the announcement, which was soon posted online.
“A few of the people being released today are still facing serious charges. These charges will be resolved in civilian courts. Unfortunately, I’ve also prepared articles of impeachment against the President of the United States. I say unfortunately because this is a sad day for this great nation. We’ve had a hard time finding bipartisan support for anything in Congress lately, but there is growing bipartisan support for the idea that three million Americans shouldn’t be declared enemy combatants. We will release the prisoners, most of whom have been wrongly arrested. And we’ll work much harder now to resolve your concerns about the climate. Sooner or later, this great nation of ours must switch to 100% clean, green energy. It’s time to admit that the era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close. The sacrifices you’ve made to remind us of the urgency of this transition are greatly appreciated.”
Later in the day, a lot of pesky details would occur to me. How soon is “sooner or later”? Why did a few prisoners stay in indefinite detention? Why did some of the ones released still have charges pending against them? But in that moment, hearing those words felt wonderful. It felt like victory.
We actually did end up occupying the Capitol for the rest of the day. There were some police and National Guard in and around the building in case anything went wrong, and there were certain parts of the building we didn’t have access to. But hundreds of people at a time filtered through the building, including the House and Senate chambers. The backup generators had the whole place lit up like it was any other day of the year. After spending a while without power, it was a bit surreal. Some people just treated it like a regular tour, but others took it more seriously, organizing as many people as possible into big public assemblies to discuss our next steps in search of climate justice. I participated in that for a while, but I couldn’t resist taking a break for a couple of minutes to see what it was like to stand behind the big podium in the House chamber. It was one of my favorite memories of the day, standing up there and looking out at my fellow green demonstrators as they discussed public policy right there in the heart of the Capitol. It was beautiful.
At the end of the day, though, it was time to regroup and start making our way home.
Power was still out in most of the city, but phone service was back online. Jalen and I spent a few hours tracking down our fellow Synergists. We did manage to account for all of them eventually, but some of it was bad news. Two were dead. Four others were too badly wounded for a trip out of town. I made a few calls to my friends in Miami Diaspora and was able to find someone in D.C. to help take care of the wounded, although it may take us a while to figure out how to get them back to Miami. In the meantime, those of us who are still mobile decided to head home as soon as possible.
There’s still so much work to do. In a way, this feels like an ending. We mobilized a record number of people in the pursuit of climate justice. It sounds like it may even encouraged a significant shift in our economic and political systems. But on another level, now that the endorphins are wearing off and I’m resting comfortably on the ride home, I have some time and energy for reflection. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that this isn’t an ending. It’s actually a beginning.
So many things are possible now. We’ve demonstrated widespread support for climate action. We’ve pushed hard against the many people in government and industry who have been slowing down and stopping action on climate change. We’ve even created some serious short-term changes. But really, all that we’ve done is create an opening for the real work to start.
It’s time to once and for all end our reliance on fossil fuels. It’s time to power our infrastructure with solar, wind, and water. It’s time to shift from industrial agriculture and factory farming to more clean and humane ways of feeding and clothing ourselves. It’s time to create the cooperative and community-based economic and political systems that we need to create social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice. The transition will take a tremendous amount of hard work — but it’s good, honest work. That’s more than anyone can say for the industries that profit by harming the health of workers, communities, the climate, and the diverse ecosystems that support all life on this planet.
It’s time to start the real work: the work of resilience and resistance. Are you ready?
I’ve had a rough week. Honestly, I’ve had a rough couple of months. But I’m very ready to start this work. I also feel very fortunate to have a place to go to where I can work on all of these projects and then some. It’s very helpful to have an all-purpose community center where people can learn about, talk about, and act on all of these ideas. We’ve made some serious progress at creating three such centers in Miami. If there’s a place like Synergy Central near you, let today be the day that you get involved there. If you don’t, send me an email sometime and I’ll see what I can do to help you start one. It’s not easy, but it’s well worth it. You’ll meet a lot of interesting people and make some amazing friends along the way.
Now that I’ve written all of this down, I’m going to take a break from writing for a while. If you’re one of my long-time readers, thank you so much for your support. It has helped make everything else I do possible. Feel free to come down to Miami sometime and stop by Synergy Central to see what we’re up to. In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck in your journey.