RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Sunday, June 28

SONG OF THE DAY: Richmond State of Mind

It’s been amazing to see the past month of community actions in Richmond, and how an initial night of protesting police brutality in the name of George Floyd, which had the police bust up the protests with militarized chemical responses, caused a break-up of the protest which wandered through the city, and sowed seeds of ongoing resistance. I was awake all night following online, and at 4 am decided to just ride up to see it with the sunrise, and take pictures of the statues, as I assumed they’d scrub it away immediately. By sunrise, there was already volunteer guards outside the Museum of the Confederacy, which had been set on fire, but hadn’t burned up nearly as much as I had hoped. I went down Monument and saw the graffiti’s first layer, none of it shocking to me, all of it made sense to me. The noose draped around Jeff Davis’s head on that monument (which is now toppled) was a nice contextual touch. Once I got downtown, where the CVS was still on fire, and saw the debris on Broad, it really told the story. Shook ones took pictures of broken glass, shaking their head at upmarked sneaker stores getting looted, as if they served the community in any deep essential way. But for me, what really told the story was the level of tear gas canisters and rubber bullet debris on the street. It was like trees shedding their leaves in autum, the level of militarized police debris still on Broad that hadn’t been swept up yet to pretend never happened.
They didn’t pressure wash the graffiti away, and there’s been actions every day since, a rotating cast of the people who have been out in the streets, with the Lee Monument now renamed Marcus-David Peters Circle, and having been turned into a community space. I actually happened to wander through again early a week or so ago, like 5 am, sun wasn’t even up all the way and I was the only one there, vibing to the much needed remix to the confederate monument, when I heard a thump, and like five police SUVs and cruisers rolled up, and a shitload of Virginia State Police, all geared up and flashing them big ass cop flashlights everywhere on the monument started moving around. I sidled my way across the street as inconspicuously as possible, not hassled at all by them beyond dirty looks, because I was just a normal ass white man to them. I saw when I got home that later they erected the concrete barriers around it, as it was technically state property, so the state was shutting it down at dark every night.
Every day since, the people have gathered, turning the space into a cookout zone, an open mic, basketball goals and picnic tables have shown up, people occupying a public space for public use, as a metaphysical middle finger to the Lee monument itself, which has just become a deeply layered blend of colorful graffiti. And every evening the police have shown up, armed for riots that aren’t happening, and blasted the people with rubber bullets, flash grenades, and tear gas, daily. The downtown Grace Street Richmond police station has also been turned into a dystopian fortress, with concrete blocks set up in the street, shutting it off, because the city dump trucks they were parking there weren’t doing enough I guess.
All of this is to say, it’s been amazing to see all this happening. Richmond has such a strangely unique history, on the James River where “western civilization” first grew its creeping tendrils on this continent. Richmond was a major landing zone for early African slave trade, and also because of this was the capital of the Confederacy during its brief moment of refusal to recognize all people’s humanity. The energy in this city is unlike any other place I’ve been, and it makes perfect sense that it’s been a space where the protests of the past month have held strong on a daily basis. And though I only lived a quarter of my life in Richmond, it’s always been a strong anchor for most all my life (most all of which has been lived in the James River basin). Folks have been throwing up prayers that those monuments to inhumanity would come down for many many years. And it can’t be forgotten that despite the alleged binary of the Civil War, those who won the war’s flag gets flown alongside the confederate flag by the people of today who are still poisoned by these inhumane philosophies. The fact the state of Virginia actually owned a tiny circle in the city where a confederate monument stood higher than anything around it, in a circular spotlight, is a pretty gross testament to the fact that though the southern states lost the Civil War, the things they believed remained a part of the American institutions that ruled us. You can’t reform rotten foundations.

No comments: