From Stop Patriarchy

We were acting for millions…

August 30, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Freedom Riders arreswted, August 13, 2014

Freedom Riders arrested, August 13, 2014.

At the governor's mansion, August 13, 2014.

August 15. On August 13, 2014, I, along with ten other Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, got arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, blocking traffic, in front of Rick Perry’s mansion.

As we walked across the street and took our positions, I thought about all the women who have died, all the women forced into motherhood, all the women shamed for having abortions, all the women kept silent. I remembered the story of a woman from San Antonio who was raped and forced to bear a child against her will, then forced into prostitution to survive, suffering for 35 years. I remembered the story of a woman who traveled to Europe alone and was raped, became pregnant, and considered suicide as a reasonable way out. These stories were just some of the many that were told at our People’s Hearings; they represent the huge stakes in this fight over whether half of humanity will be free to determine their own futures, and they will stay with me forever.

As cars began to pile up, and people on the sidewalk gathered and filmed, I felt more and more emboldened. The cars began honking, and we chanted louder. People came out of their cars shouting at us, one car nearly hit one of us, but we were not deterred. We stood strong for nearly 10 minutes. Many people watching from the sidelines were in awe, and some were moved to tears. People participated in all kinds of ways, giving us water as we sizzled on the hot pavement, talking to and filming the police to make sure they didn’t get totally out of line, and doing interviews responding to the action. It was so compelling, what we did, that people stayed and watched the entire thing unfold, until every single one of us was put into the police trucks.

When the cops gave us a countdown before they began their arrests, not one of us flinched. It took them quite a while to cuff all of us, and all the while we did mic checks, talking about the dark ages agenda that Rick Perry is fighting for, the fact that if HB2 holds it will result in the foreclosure of women’s lives as well as women dying from self-induced abortions, and chanting things like “1, 2, 3, 4 Abortion is worth fighting for! 5, 6, 7, 8 Women’s lives are what’s at stake!” and, “Come on, come on and join the fight! Abortion is a basic right!” Our voices were giving out, the pavement was searing hot, and the police dragged us away one by one, but there was NEVER a moment where we lost our energy and determination. We were charged the entire time, knowing we were acting for millions.

Some of the riders were brutally arrested, with torn ligaments and sprained wrists. When we were in jail, we were separated immediately, and harassed by the police officers. But we stayed strong the entire time, while being shuffled around, stripped down, and isolated. We were lucky, compared to many others in jail. We had a team of local volunteer lawyers on the case immediately, and so in total we only spent 10 hours in jail. But after reflecting on what happened… I realize it is entirely outrageous that we even had to serve this much time when the real criminals, like Rick Perry, call the shots. It makes absolutely no damn sense. His rule is entirely illegitimate. He would see women enslaved to their reproduction and barefoot in the home, if it were up to him. But ultimately, those in power don’t have total control over what happens next. More and more, as people begin to wake up and understand the huge stakes of this fight, and the fact that they can all play a major role in changing the course of all this, the more we have a real chance of defeating this war on women.

History has shown that those with right on their side, with the truth on their side, through incredible daring, and in the face of strong opposition from all sides, can lead millions to act. Imagine if the abolitionists listened to almost everyone around them, were intimidated by white supremacist fascists, and didn’t fight for Black people to not be treated like ‘talking tools.’ Imagine if the original Freedom Riders decided to listen to the respected Black leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (at first) and did not go to the South and boldly challenge Jim Crow segregation. Imagine if the women of the 60’s and 70’s did not fight against tradition and to legalize abortion. If people did not fight for what was right we would be in far worse shape today. And if today, we do not fight for what's right, things will only get worse, and women will be slammed back.

Week of Defiance!

We are modelling the kind of action that is needed right now, and we are willing and prepared to do more things like this civil disobedience because it has been far too long since a movement for women’s liberation took the kinds of steps needed to bring forward millions, based on what is needed, what is true, and what is possible. From August 25 to September 1st we are calling for a NATIONAL WEEK OF DEFIANCE, and we will be announcing soon, exactly where we will be all week, in Austin, TX, so you know where to find us, and how to join in. Whether you are ready to do everything we did or just want to come and learn more and be around people who are not sleepwalking towards a total disaster, you need to get down to Austin, and throw in on this fight.

We CANNOT wait for people to wake up, or for the pendulum to swing back, because there is no damn pendulum! It is on US to wake people up! It is on US to act on what we know! If you are someone who does not want to see women treated as nothing more than mere breeders, then you need to throw in on this fight. Dare to take a stand. Dare to tell the truth. Dare to fight for the full liberation of women.

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