So, this was how it ended: a sentence hearing to be determined by a justice system that has always been considered a democracy. This was something I didn’t think anyone expected, not even me. In retrospect, I learned something from my experience in the few hours before; happiness truly is the most insidious prison of all.
In my mind, I remembered so clearly how I ended up here. I, and many others, had protested the crimes of the authority, and the degradation of this great country of Turia. An action that we were allowed to take with no restraints. Yet, I was still perplexed by the motions taken by those in law enforcement. The police were people like us, people who had family out there protesting alongside everyone else. In some rare cases, an officer would join the demonstration. However, there I was waiting for the pretrial to begin.
What could have caused the other officers to proceed with such an inhuman action? This question overwhelmed my mind and I was no closer to an answer. All I could do to distract myself from such an awful thought was to survey the court room wherein I was subdued.
I looked to my left and saw the few others that were detained during the riot. Most of the individuals I had noticed consisted of the ones who also fought against the brutality of the riot police: the anarchists. While on my right, the police officer that was guarding us grinned at me with a face of abhorrence. Part of me wanted to get up off the bench and throw his face into the wall. After reminding myself that it wouldn’t help my situation, I concluded that it wouldn’t be enough to atone for what they did.
When I was a young child, my father had told me that he and the other police were protectors of democracy. Now that I was older, I realized that they are not all part of this perfect portrayal; but in my days, for all the bad ones, there had to be at least a few good ones just like my father.
As I looked towards the front of the room, I watched the media intently following every bit of movement within the room as if they looked away, they might miss something important. I noticed one woman, long blonde hair and severely skinny. She was dressed very casual, if not beyond casual: black sweats, a vanilla sweater, and tarnished tennis shoes. I had no idea how she got in here with such attire, but I suppose I will have to add that to my list of questions to answer. But beyond everything, she was dead set on interviewing at least one of us. She spent a good few minutes trying to convince the officer to give her at least a minute, but was let down despite her persistence and attempted bribery.
I leaned back into the solid wooden bench and closed my eyes, drifting off into my thoughts and trying to piece together all the events that had taken place into some rational summary. I chuckled after realizing how foolish I was. It was silly to consider any possible rationalization since everyone acts in an irrational manner. If things were rational, I wouldn’t be sitting here waiting to be judged by an imposter of justice.
Moving further back into my mind, I started to collect the events of what happened more clearly after calming down about my current situation.
It was a vivid, warm night comforted by a light breeze that ran through my hair, making me feel more lively and free every moment. It almost felt as if I was back in Denver Merrill’s Park, seeking a more tranquil society, that I had the whole world in my hands. I spent a great deal of time conversing with the other demonstrators while we enjoyed roasting hot dogs around a bonfire. I had met people of all beliefs during this time, but in the end I realized that despite our differences we had a common goal. This goal unified us towards saving our country from decline, and creating a better future for humankind. We agreed that if we let our country move backwards even the slightest, we all move back with it. What happened next burned into my head.
Riot police had silently made their way through every street surrounding the park where we were residing. We hadn’t noticed until we heard their calls to disband echo throughout the park, and the first smoke canister landing a few meters from the fire. I remembered how much people panicked, running to their tents to grab their most precious belongings, coughing as they moved through the smoke. Standing there feeling as if being an astral projection, I watched a man to my left trip as he ran, followed by someone brushing past my shoulder rubbing their eyes as they looked for their tent. It all seemed to go so slow, the smoke stirring in the air, the coughing and screaming ringing in a chorus, while as a whole, it appeared to be a darkness collapsing in on us. The lights had been extinguished to contain us, so all we saw was the piercing bright lights from all around, radiating from the enclosing shade. The bonfire was no competitor next to this level of fluorescence.
It took me a moment to get a grip on what was happening, then I started moving, cloaking my mouth from the smoke. Soon after, the tear gas started raining in on all of us and some took it harder than most, not being able to open their eyes for long before snapping them back shut, rendering them blind. The smoke was so dense all I could see was the light coming from the bonfire. The anarchists were using the flames to light Molotov cocktails by the ton, and then throwing them at the riot police who soon enough had the entire park surrounded. Moving closer and closer, one step at a time, they used their riot shields to create an impassable wall. The fires started from the anarchists were slowing them down, but only slightly.
It was then that I noticed in the light from the fire, that one of the demonstrators that I had been sitting with earlier, was on the ground. I ran over to see if he was okay and it occurred to me that he was asthmatic and having an attack. Struggling to remember where his tent was located, let alone where it was in all this smoke, I started running around the park in a panic until I eventually came across his tent; fortunately, I had remembered him going into this one earlier. I ran in and rummaged through his belongings, until I finally acquired his inhaler and dashed out of the tent. The police were closer now and looked no more likely to slow down than they did before.
After a minute or two of searching blindly, I found him being wrestled into restraints. It seemed that he tried to crawl away from them to avoid getting entangled in his condition. My mind raced through all the different ways I could handle the given situation, I came to only one: I stuffed the inhaler into my hoodie pocket and started running toward him as fast as I could. I braced myself for impact as I knocked the police off the top of him, and fell backwards. After picking myself up, I picked him up and threw him onto my shoulder and began to run towards the center of the park. Looking back I saw the police picking themselves off the ground and falling back into the wall of shields.
“…sir can you please step forward?”
Opening my eyes, I found myself back in the court room again. Everyone was staring at me like I had something important to say. This made me extremely uneasy and I began perspiring. But, then I realized something, I did have something important to say and if I was going down, I would make sure that I inspired more to take my place. After being ripped up off the bench aggressively by the officer, I was slowly shoved forward to the front of the room. The staring never died, and even the video cameras running had their big gleaming eyes following me. The walk up there seemed to last forever, the judge appearing more distant by the second. My eyes felt weighed down by stress and leaned towards being incoherent, while my legs felt rebellious and triumphant, which forced me to accomplish whatever I could.
I was stopped abruptly facing the judge who had a stone face, mirroring his emotion towards this situation. Although being as pleased as he was made me wonder how much he got paid for our convictions. Standing in front of him made me feel as if the finger of god was pointed directly above me, making me feel smaller than I already felt. My heavy eyes began to shut as I tried to keep them open. Feeling the bags under my eyes and the wobble in my legs, I was ready to be flattened by the divine extremity.
“So, what have you got to say in defense for your actions?”, asked the judge.
I felt a sudden surge of energy, and my heart jumped out of my chest in eagerness. My eyes shot open sparkling in the room’s lighting, my legs stood firmly on the ground, and I was ready to revoke the power I had given the divinity over me. It was at this point that I realized what I had to say:
“You imply that I should defend my actions, but the real question is, should I be required to defend my patriotism? I am here not because I did anything illegal, but because the police forces, the law, and our government have slowly over the decade become enemies to freedom. They want unquestioning compliance and no investigations of their crimes. While the police forces crush all opposition to these crimes, others are often more afraid to even protest the actions of these imposing illusive iniquities. But before I am judged by your compromised perception of justice, I will say one last thing that I want you and all other criminals to remember. What you are fighting against is a number far greater than yourselves. A number that with enough power could cover your eyes and leave you smothered in darkness. I sir, am part of that idea, and for every person that is detained, several more will come in my stead because ideas never cease.”