Was it a Thumbs Up Sign or a Finger Gun Pointing at Us?

See also on PINK TANK

I have to say it doesn’t take very long for Kansas’ 1st district Rep. Roger Marshall and his staff to feel like as though they are the victims of their constituents’ concerns and not the other way around.

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This time it started on Sunday, August 4 with some singing and chalking on Rep. Marshall’s sidewalk. The chalking included images as well as text such as

“Providing water to refugees is not a crime”

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“More mass shootings than days in 2019: 250 and counting”

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“‘I think the country is safer today than it was three years ago’ — Roger Marshall” (This was chalked the weekend of the El Paso and Dayton shootings.)

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A car drove by with people hanging their heads out and shouting obscenities and something about how “gun control won’t fix it.” And I thought to myself, they’re right. It’s not enough. The problem is much deeper and needs a cultural shift away from social, political and economic injustice as a whole.

 

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The next day, I went as usual to SMoC, my “Sidewalk Museum of Congress” studio, and just as I was getting ready to lay down my work mat, out of the corner of my eye I see a figure inside Marshall’s office come toward the door. For a second I thought the staff person was coming to talk to me, but nothing happened. Did she come to lock the door? Maybe she was intimidated by our chalking from the previous day, and when she saw me coming, was further intimidated and quickly locked the door. But I’m not sure.

Five minutes later my fellow-artist friend Rena joined me, and as she was laying her stuff out, I told her what I thought just happened. After a few minutes we decided to go in and submit a few questions we had hammering at our brains for Marshall about the recent mass shootings.

Marshall’s office has two doors, one of which is behind where I usually sit. It has an old curled up paper sign on it telling visitors to use the other door, around the corner. That’s the door that Marshall used to make a quick getaway, a year ago August 8, when we were protesting some of the same stuff we are today and demanding to meet him.

We haven’t seen him since. (Well, he did have a townhall meeting in Salina on April 20, but the local community access TV posted on Facebook saying “This is Easter weekend, so the crowd wasn’t large due to a lot of family activities around town this weekend.”)

Here Rena and I were again, our questions ready, my phone video on, and as we knocked on the door, Marshall’s staff person opened it and, seeing my phone, told me to please stop recording. I turned the phone off and we tried to voice our two questions for Marshall to a very defensive staff person as she typed them into her computer. Then we went outside to continue working.

Marshall's today

 

I am a native of India, and you know it’s a small world in which government policies affect minimum wage workers, day laborers, farmers, peasants and their families halfway across the globe when your own Kansas member of Congress makes it into one of your native country’s newspapers. The Hindu reported on August 6, “US Congressman Roger Marshall said once again, Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do with China, now in regard to their currency. ‘US producers, workers and consumers have waited long enough for an administration who would stand up to China. I’m thankful it’s finally happening,’ he said.”

Recent severe weather and market uncertainty have impacted Kansas farmers. So on the day that the Hindu reported Marshall’s thankfulness for the tariffs, we decided to write an all-caps message at SMoC using some Kansas crops —soybean, wheat, corn and sorghum. Rena came up with a good one: TRUMP HARMS FARMS.

As we started to fill our palms with the grains to plant them on the concrete, I thought I saw someone nearby taking our picture. Then he walked by us and disappeared around the corner only to appear a little later with Marshall’s staff person, who was smiling and shaking his hand. The scene happened very fast, and only I saw it; Rena’s back was to them. Then the guy got into his car (oddly, with Florida plates) and drove off. Almost immediately, Rena got an email from Marshall’s office regarding our questions (see below.)

We sat back down to continue with what we were doing, and a few minutes later a pedestrian wearing sunglasses just walked right into me, stepping on our “TRUMP HARMS FARMS” slogan-in-the-making and saying, “I’m sorry, I’m hard of seeing.”

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Seconds earlier, another guy in a passing car had blown his horn; Rena looked up at him and her eyes went dark. My back was to the street, so I was sitting there wondering what she’d seen when the guy in sunglasses crashed into me. (Here you see her watching, unsettled, as the car goes by.)

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As we tried once again to finish the work we’d come there to do, Rena told me about the driver who blew the horn. Gesturing with her hand, she said that she couldn’t be sure if it was a thumbs-up sign he’d given her or a “finger gun”.

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Fortunately, we had perched my phone on a little tree on the sidewalk to record the making of our grain slogan in time lapse. Rena patted the tree gently and exclaimed “Thank you tree.” (We had not been thankful for our phone experience inside Marshall’s office the previous day.) You can see for yourself part of the strange sequence of events that interrupted our SMoC studio work that day. Coincidence? Paranoia? What just happened?

One of my questions for Marshall the previous day was whether he still believed himself when he’d said, “I think the country is safer today than it was three years ago,” and whether he was ready to take that statement back.

This is the response we got back from his office while we were planting TRUMP HARMS FARMS on Marshall’s sidewalk:

“Thank you for stopping by Congressman Roger Marshall’s District Office in Salina, Kansas yesterday. This email is to advise that your opinion was filed with Congressman Marshall and our legislative team in Washington, D.C.”

My “opinion?” It was a question. Once again Roger the Dodger is living up to his reputation and ignoring his constituents’ concerns.

I shouldn’t have to go into my Congressman’s office with my video camera in hand to begin with. But let’s face it, I’m paranoid that in the shadow of whatever is left of our democracy, artists like Rena and me are an exposed sidewalk target.

Wouldn’t you be?

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SMoC diary to be continued…

Please go here to see a SMoC experience from October, 2018. By the way, the Republican campaign headquarters that featured in that incident is now a CBD shop lol!

 

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Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 2 of Uncountable

What do Shahed Amer al-Bayoumi, Abdel-Raouf Salha, Arafat Jaradat, Ayoub Asaleya, Mohammed Suleiman, Sawsan Ali Dawud Mansour, Mohammad H., Isma’il Muslem Hamad Abu Bteihan, Ala Ziad Abu ‘Aasi, Fadi al-Darbi, Atef al-Maqousi, Jaber Ibrahim Abu Hweige, Fadiyah Jaber Abu Hweige and Muhammad Jaber Abu Hweige have in common? They are Palestinians between the ages of 9 and 69 who have been severely injured, imprisoned, or killed by Israeli occupation forces since 1992

The first segment of this series, Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 1 of Uncountable, included a portrait of 18-month-old Malak Shaker Abu Shouqa. She was one of 13 people who were killed on July 31, 2014 when an Israeli F-16 warplane struck their homes. Four of the people killed that day included members of the al-Bayoumi family.

13 Shahed Amer al-BayoumBorder pattern includes a toy found in the rubble after the incident

This segment, Part 2, includes 9-year-old, Shahed Amer al-Bayoumi, who survived that attack but was badly injured. According to the multimedia web documentary Obliterated Families, “She now shivers all the time. She was in a coma for 38 days… initially she could not recognize her family. She cannot hold a pen to write, so sometimes her cousin sits with her at the school to help her write.” Shahed lost her cousin Hassan, and her three sisters Abeer, Aseel, and Hadil in the attack.

 

14 Abdel-Raouf SalhaBorder pattern includes a protest sign that says in Arabic “Until when will the siege last?”

13-year-old Abdel-Raouf Salha, was the first Palestinian child to be killed by occupation forces this year. Abdel was injured while participating in the Great March of Return protests on January 11 in the northern Gaza Strip when he was struck in the head by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister causing severe brain injury. He died two days later in a hospital in Gaza City.

According to Ayed Abu Eqtaish, the Accountability Program Director for Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), “Crowd control weapons such as tear gas canisters can become lethal weapons when fired at children, especially if the point of impact is on a child’s head or torso.” DCIP also said that “a high proportion of the Gaza Strip fatalities, 45, were killed by Israeli forces since the start of Great March of Return protests on March 30, 2018, often in the context of protests or related activities.”

 

15 Arafat Jaradat

Suspected of throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at occupation forces, 33-year-old Arafat Jaradat from the occupied West Bank was arrested on February 18, 2013 and locked up in Israel’s Megiddo prison, where he died five days later after being interrogated by the security agency Shin Bet. On February 24, the Palestinians rights group Al-Haq tweeted saying that the “autopsy of #ArafatJaradat confirmed that he didn’t die of heart attack. Body displayed multiple signs of beating.” He was tortured. According to The Electronic Intifada (EI), “Israel has failed to launch a single criminal investigation for torture despite more than 1,000 complaints by victims since 2001.”

Arafat had two children, Yara and Mohammad. His wife Dalal was expecting their third child at the time of his death. According to the prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, she gave birth to a boy on June 30 and named him Arafat, “after his martyred father.”

 

16 Ayoub Asaleya

12-year-old Ayoub Asaleya was playing with his cousins when he was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Jabalia refugee camp on March 11, 2012, as cross-border fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants raged on for a third day. Adel Essi, 63, was killed by shrapnel from another missile as he was guarding an orchard. According to the New York Times, the attacks had begun “when Israeli air-to-ground missiles killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair al-Qissi, and his assistant in Gaza.” The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu boasted, saying, “My instructions are to strike at anyone planning to harm us… The combination of offensive capabilities, defensive capabilities and civilian resilience is a winning combination, and we have it.”

 

17 Mohammed Suleiman

Mohammad Suleiman, was arrested on April 18, 2011. He is 34 years old and suffers from thalassemia and chronic anemia for which he requires daily medical care, including frequent blood transfusions. As a result of the transfusions his blood contains high levels of iron, causing a perpetual weakening of his heart muscle for which he has had to undergo a daily routine of intravenously injecting a medication called Desferal for 8 to 10 hours to cleanse his body of some of the excess iron. Since his arrest and subsequent medical neglect, his health has deteriorated rapidly; tests confirm that he has an enlarged heart and liver.

According to the prisoner support group Addameer, Mohammad is currently in administrative detention, “a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial… The entire family, except for his 20-year-old sister, is currently forbidden from visiting Mohammed.” In early October of ’11 Mohammed’s wife gave birth to Suleiman, their first child.

 

18 Sawsan Ali Dawud Mansour.jpg

In a new wave of unrest that broke out between Occupation forces and Palestinians in October 2015, 28 Israelis and more than 200 Palestinians were killed, including the latest victim,19-year-old Sawsan Ali Dawud Mansour, who was gunned down near the Ras Biddu checkpoint north of Jerusalem on May 23, 2016. According to Ma’an News Agency (MNA), an Israeli spokesperson claimed that a “female terrorist” allegedly attempted to stab a soldier, when “another officer immediately fired gunshots at the Palestinian teen and ‘neutralized’ her.” No Israelis were reported injured in the incident.

 

19 Mohammad H

“I used to play soccer and ride my bike but now my life has completely changed… My message to Israel is that I was participating in a peaceful march and they shot me in the leg and now I don’t have a leg.” Those are the words of 13-year-old Mohammad H., who was severely injured on June 29, 2018. According to DCIP, Israeli forces shot him “at around 6:30 p.m., near Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip… He marched toward the fence with a group of other protesters. Mohammad was unarmed and making a ‘victory’ sign with his fingers. Israeli forces fired multiple rounds at the group and one bullet struck Mohammad’s leg.”

In 2018, DCIP “documented 18 cases of Palestinian children who suffered permanent disability as a result of injuries sustained in the context of Great March of Return protests.”

 

20 Isma’il Abu Bteihan

The patterns of Israeli atrocities and collective punishment carried out on the Palestinians, their families and neighbors, their homes and infrastructure can clearly be seen in the summer of 2014 and the 51-day onslaught of explosives that rained down on the Gaza Strip. The explosive force that killed more than 520 children, including Malak Abu Shouqa and Shahed al-Bayoumi’s three sisters and cousin and left her constantly shivering with fear was “roughly equivalent to that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb,” according to EI.

Just four days before the August 26 ceasefire agreement that ended the assault, Isma’il Muslem Hamad Abu Bteihan, a 69-year-old resident of a-Zawaydah, Deir al-Balah district was killed in a missile attack. According to B’Tselem, he was “killed while sitting under the shade of a tree opposite his home. Four hours later his home was bombarded and completely destroyed.”

 

21 Ala Ziad Abu ‘Aasi

In addition to Malak Shaker Abu Shouqa, Part 1 of Patterns of Occupied Palestine featured 16-year-old Naji Jamil Abu ‘Aasi, who was killed on the 17th of September, 2018 by an Israeli missile along with his cousin. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, “At 12:50 am the next day… Palestinian Red Crescent Society medical teams found the bodies of two civilian-dressed persons. Both had shrapnel injuries on various parts of their bodies and one of them was torn to pieces. The two bodies were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where they were identified as Naji Abu ‘Asi, 16, and Alaa’ Abu ‘Asi, 19 [featured here, in part 2]—both residents of Al-Zanna area in Bani Sohaila town in eastern Khan Younis.”

 

22 Fadi al-Darbi

A 30-year-old Palestinian resident of Jenin named Fadi al-Darbi died on October 14, 2015 after suffering “medical negligence by the Israeli Prison Service.” Fadi had been detained by Israeli forces back in 2006 and sentenced to 16 years in jail. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement “that he suffered bleeding in his abdomen two years ago, but was left in solitary confinement, without medical treatment.”

 

23 Atef al-Maqousi

37-year-old Atef al-Maqousi from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza died on November 8, 2107, after living in a quadriplegic state for 25 years. According to the media center IMEMC, he was shot in the spine by Israeli soldiers in 1992 and as a result suffered ongoing infections and other complications that eventually lead to his death.

 

“At 11:27 am on 27 December 2008, Gaza was bombarded by Israeli warplanes. Instead of the anticipated school bell, the children heard the horrifying sound of bombs.” That’s when Operation Cast Lead began. According to the EI “Israel used its air force, navy, infantry and artillery against a population that already had a long experience of being under military occupation and, more recently, under siege.”

This following testimony is of Jaber Abu Abu Hweij, a resident of Gaza City:

“I lived with my parents and brothers and sisters in the Tufah neighborhood in Gaza City. Our house is between the police building and the al-Mahata mosque. On Saturday, 27.12. 08, while I was at work, one of my neighbors called me and told me to come home quickly.

24 Jaber, Fadiyah & Mohammad

I got home and was shocked by what I saw. The house had been hit by an explosion and was a pile of rubble. Where the house had been there was a big hole. There were dozens of people trying to get my family out of the ruins, but they only managed to get some of them out alive.

My father, Jaber Abu Hweij, 52, my sister, Fadia, 22, and my brother Muhammad, 18, were killed in the bombing. Many other family members were injured.

The neighbors told me the house had been hit three times, one right after the other. Some of my family was hurt in the first strike and while others tried to help them, the house was hit again and others were injured. It happened so quickly there was no time to flee.

I keep seeing my sister Fadia in my mind. She was the last one I saw that morning when I left for work. She is the one who woke me for morning prayers and to go to work. Her voice still echoes in my ears….

Our family has fallen apart. Some [have] been killed and others are hospitalized. We lost our home and all our possessions: all our mementos, our dreams, our stories, our furniture, everything is under the ruins. The important thing now is for me to take care of my family that is still alive. I am particularly taking care of my brother Ahmad, who is still in intensive care.”

I would like to thank Obliterated Families, DCIP, The EI, Samidoun, ADDAMEER, MNA, B’Tselem, Al Mezan, and IMEMC for providing valuable material for this project.

Please go here to see Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 1 of Uncountable. Part 3 will follow next month . . .

 

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 1 of Uncountable

See also at PINK TANK

There is no one poster child who embodies the struggle of the Palestinian people living in the shadow of Israeli settlers and military occupation. Every Palestinian child, woman, and man will tell you intricate stories of what life and death is like under the perennial burden of occupation, and what that means for the land beneath their feet, their usurped rivers, their beloved farmers and the artisans, etc.

Aisha Lulu, Amal Mustafa al-Taramsi, Haitham Ismael Saada, Amin Mansour Abu Moammar, Ahmad Ghazal, Izzedin Bani Gharra, Malak Shaker Abu Shouqa, Qutayba Ziad Zahran, Naji Jamil Abu ‘Aasi, Iyad Ousamah Sha’th, Bushra al-Taweel and Yousef Abu Sbeikha al-Boheiri are just twelve of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have either been displaced, killed in cold blood by Israeli occupation forces, arrested, injured physically and psychologically, or have died indirectly by the regime’s sadistic design of collective punishment.

Each pattern of occupied Palestine tells its own story. As part of a lifelong project, I will be embroidering images of hundreds of Palestinians, deceased and living. Each of the embroidered portraits to come has a border inspired by Tatreez — a traditional Palestinian embroidery-style, and by the occupied territories’ natural, threatened landscape. Each bordered portrait is also a statement against the ugly and violent apartheid border wall.

Below are the first twelve portraits of occupation in this open-ended series:

1 Aisha LuluBorder pattern includes the hairy pink flax flower

“My heart broke every day my daughter was away… Why does Israel treat us like this? We are not affiliated to any political faction, we are just normal people,” says Muna, whose 5-year-old daughter Aisha Lulu of the Bureij Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip was one of the latest casualties of the Israeli occupation. Diagnosed with brain cancer in April, Aisha died on May 17 in a Gaza hospital. Prior to this, she spent a month alone in a hospital bed in Jerusalem, crying for her family, who were denied permits by the Israeli military to accompany her.

 

2 Amal al-Taramsi

The first Palestinian to be killed by Israeli occupation forces this year was a 44-year-old resident of the Shaikh Radwan neighborhood of north Gaza City, Amal Al-Taramsi, who was shot in the head during protests in the occupied Gaza Strip on Friday, January 11, 2019.

 

3 Haitham SaadaBorder pattern includes the endangered Palestinian mountain gazelle

“Haitham was not yet 15 when he died. His average grade in school this year was 87. In the memorial photos he wears a dark kaffiyeh on his head. He was the firstborn child and only son of his parents; there are three younger sisters. His father, Ismail, 43, a construction worker in Kiryat Gat, looks as though he has not yet absorbed what happened. A crooked smile occasionally crosses his lips as he recounts the events of his Black Friday.” Ismail’s son, 14-year-old Haitham Saada was hit by two Israeli bullets on February 5, 2016. The IDF accused him of getting ready to throw a Molotov cocktail at the soldiers, and so they fired and killed him.

 

4 Amin Mansour

On March 30, 2018, during the Land Day protests along the Gaza-Israel boundary, more than 1,400 Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets, and 16 were killed by Israeli occupation forces. One of the dead was 22-year-old Amin Mansour Abu Moammar from Rafah, in the southern Gaza strip.

 

5 Ahmad Ghazal

17-year-old Ahmad Ghazal from the Ras Al-’Ain neighborhood of northern occupied West Bank, was shot and killed after he stabbed and wounded two Israeli men in the Old City of Jerusalem on April 1, 2017. The Accountability Program Director for Defense for Children International – Palestine, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, said, “Israeli forces now appear to routinely resort to the use of intentional lethal force in situations not justified by International norms, which in some incidents amount to extrajudicial killings.”

 

6 Izzedin Bani

21-year-old Izzeddin Bani Gharra was one of almost 200 Palestinians killed by occupation forces in the occupied territories in 2015. He was shot and killed during an Israeli arrest raid on June 10, 2015. “I lost everything after Izz was killed, it was a shock, my son Izz loves life and he loves Palestine. Israel killed him in cold blood,” Bani Gharra’s mother told Ma’an News Agency.

 

7 Malak ShakerBorder pattern includes the Palestinian sunbird

Between July 7 and August 26, 2014 the besieged Gaza strip was bombarded by Israeli explosives, killing more than 2,130 Palestinians. 18-month-old Malak Shaker Abu Shouqa lived in the Al Nuseirat refugee camp, which is home to more than 80,000 refugees, and is located in the middle of the Gaza strip. On July 31, she, along with 12 other Palestinians were killed when an Israeli F-16 warplane struck their homes. Two of the others killed were her relatives.

 

8 Qutayba ZahranBorder pattern includes olives

The Israeli border police continued to fire into 17-year-old Qutayba Ziad Zahran’s body after he fell on the ground at the Zaatara military checkpoint in northern occupied West Bank. The Israeli authorities alleged that the teenager attempted to carry out a knife attack on Israeli forces, but in fact a soldier was hurt in a friendly fire incident. Hundreds attended Zahran’s funeral procession on September 9, 2017, 20 days after the incident. Zahran’s father learned of his son’s death through local news and Facebook. According to Ma’an News Agency “Israel often delays the delivery of slain Palestinian bodies to their families in the occupied Palestinian territory, and imposes strict conditions on funerals, alleging that funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces leads to ‘incitement.’”

 

9 Naji Abu ‘Aasi

Twenty of the twenty-three Palestinians killed in the month of September, 2018, were from Gaza, including 16-year-old Naji Jamil Abu ‘Aasi, who was killed on the 17th by an Israeli missile, along with his cousin, 19-year-old Ala Ziad Abu ‘Aasi (portrait follows in part 2 of this series.) Both were from the Bani Sohaila town in eastern Khan Younis.

 

10 Iyad Sha’thBorder pattern includes the Dead Sea which has been “shrinking rapidly due to Israel’s diversion of the head waters of the Jordan River.”

Israeli General Ariel Sharon’s September 28, 2000 walk through the Muslim holy site Haram Al-Sharif in occupied east Jerusalem, as he was accompanied by hundreds of Israeli police officers, triggered the second Palestinian Intifada. But the uprising had more to do with the failed peace process, continuing settlement expansion and the deteriorating lives of Palestinians living under occupation. According to Defense for Children International, more than 1,996 children have been killed since then, with 700 children killed between September 2000 and February 2005, including a 14-year-old resident of Khan Younis, Iyad Ousamah Sha’th, who was killed by live ammunition on October 24, 2000.

 

11 Bushra al-Taweel

The 26-year-old journalist and photographer Bushra al-Taweel has been arrested three times in her young life by occupation forces, with the latest arrest happening on November 01, 2017. According to the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association ADDAMEER, “Human Rights Defender Bushra al-Taweel has been subjected to continuing adversity imposed by the occupation forces. She was first arrested at 18 years old and was released from her second arrest in May 2015 after serving almost a year in detention. Now, Bushra is imprisoned under administrative detention. She will, hopefully, be released in July 2018 after spending 8 months without having any charges brought against her and without having the opportunity to stand trial.” Bushra remains a detainee at the Hasharon (Telmond) Prison in Israel.

 

12 Yousef al-BoheiriBorder pattern includes olive trees. “Since 1967 some 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank alone.”

A 48-year-old farmer, Yousef Abu Sbeikha al-Boheiri from the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, died on December 27, 2015 from gunshot wounds he had sustained the previous Friday while working in his farmland.

Part 2 follows…

I would like to thank The Electronic Intifada, Defense for Children International, Addameer, Israel-Palestine Timeline and B’tselem for providing valuable material for this project.

 

 

Message From Madeline to Donald: “You are Bullying the People”

See also at Common Dreams

This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water — Donald Trump, INDEPENDENT, September 29, 2017.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an article by Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria.’

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Neighbor (part 3)

The United States government would rather have us remain silent about who we might meet with and talk to in Puerto Rico about Hurricane Maria, the destruction it caused, and how the mainland responded…

 

IMG_5171…such as always-smiling Fela Suren who says she’s “80-something.” She wasn’t in her house when Maria made landfall, but was staying with a friend. She said she started screaming “Ahhhhhhh!” when the hurricane struck, and she doesn’t wish to see anything like another Maria ever again. She laughs and adds that she wants to go to the United States…

 

IMG_5188…or remain silent about Fela’s undrinkable green tap water that she says she only bathes with…

 

 

 

…or the papaya and gandules trees that she planted in her yard…

 

Untitled 3…or this montage of her roofless, destroyed home that includes a makeshift bedroom in her kitchen with the boarded window…

 

IMG_5175…or the pods from her gandules trees that lie strewn about on the dirt and that she sweeps off with her pink broom and breaks into a broken white cup to cook with and eat…

 

IMG_5202…or, maybe while she sits, waiting for people from the church that “adopted” her to come and put new windows into her unfinished home…

 

IMG_5158…or this inside-out-home with a sign that says ‘No Toque’ (Do Not Touch), because of the mistaken belief that “FEMA is coming…”

 

IMG_5248…or this Maria-brush-picket-fence…

 

IMG_5060 (1)…or this photo of then-young, now-96-year-old Juana San Miguel with her mother Evarista Diaz and stepdad Alfonzo Cruz…

 

IMG_5057…or about our guide and translator Madeline Flores Tenazoa (left), Juana San Miguel (center), or Victoria Febás…

 

IMG_5061.jpg…and the fact that Juana, who will turn 97 this May and worked in a garment factory for 30 years, never missed a day’s work in her life; or that Victoria worked for the government as a nurse, and they both live on social security and are two of the elderly people who are the majority in Sierra Brava. “We have good neighbors here” says Juana. Both of them live by themselves, and neither of them drive or have a car. “Almost all old people here,” says Madeline. “Every time they [the neighbors] check if they need something” from the supermarket, or any other help…

 

IMG_5074…or that Victoria, who, framed by portraits of her family on the wall behind her, can be seen here, smiling, wearing her beloved chihuahua Lindita on her right wrist like an oversize bracelet, and with her left hand holding a photo of her son, Ramon, who, like Wilma’s son, Juan Carlos (see part 1), serves in the United States Army…

 

IMG_5070…or the sticker next to the rippling wall-paint showing signs of water seepage, that says ‘There’s something about a soldier.’ Madeline tells us that Victoria’s neighbor, who was living across the street, had to leave because he, like many, couldn’t find a job in Sierra Brava. She said that he did a lot for Victoria. If she needed anything from the supermarket, for instance, she only had to cross the street and ask him and he would bring whatever she needed. But now she has to wait for her daughter to come from San Juan to go to the supermarket. “There’s something about a soldier” works great in the U.S. mainland where cowards make the rules and young citizens like Ramon who fought in Afghanistan serve and die for them. But in the island territory of Puerto Rico, “There’s something about a neighbor” rings more true…

 

IMG_5229…or this piece of land where Madeline’s grandmother’s old house stood. “My grandmother [was] born here…When I came [to live here] I was only 11 days old, and my grandmother was living here with her mom. We had [two] big trees here,” says Madeline, and the day that Maria struck, they fell and “broke the house in two pieces.” Her cousin — who had bought the old house — was here during Maria. When the house was destroyed, Madeline says “my grandmother went crazy… she told everybody she needed to come to see [for herself] what happened, and she started crying! crying!… the house is not the same, now it’s a new house… she say I passed all my life there, and my dad died there, I saw mama die there…” (La Plena, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5098…or about Madeline’s grandmother, 78-year-old Milagros Colón, whose home in Sierra Brava was also destroyed by the hurricane. Madeline tells us that “the tree fell [through the roof] and the water came inside from the river and she lost everything. They [FEMA] came, but my grandmother she doesn’t speak English. How’s she gonna talk with him. How?” Later, “they send the letter [saying] you qualify only for $400, but what’re you going to pay [for all that was destroyed] with $400? Madeline says that the tree was on Milagros’ bedroom side of the house and when it fell, the bedroom window came crashing down on her grandmother’s bed. “Thank God she wasn’t here! [when it happened.] I was in the United States, but I called my grandmother [and told her] you please don’t stay in the house. My uncle lives in an apartment on the second floor.” She says Milagros wanted to stay but Madeline insisted “you can go [there], you need to go!… She says she feels the consequences [of the disaster] now,” a year and a half later…

 

Untitled 4…or about what many Puerto Rican’s felt about Donald Trump’s hurricane-response behavior. “If you see what happened when Trump came, and, he laugh, everybody laugh, with the paper towel. Ah, you can get this [paper towels], like… this?! You can clean your nose with this, but how I’m gonna to repair my house?… A lot of people were like ‘ha! ha! ha! oh, this is funny!’ It’s not funny. You are bullying the people.” Madeline alludes to Donald putting bully words in peoples’ mouths. Especially the children. “We need to repair everybody’s [houses]…he’s the first man [she laughs] and you do this with the people?…when the hurricane passed, a lot of kids’ parents [couldn’t] buy clothes again. They can’t buy backpacks, notebooks… and a lot of kids go like, ‘oh, your mom can’t buy you this? I have this!’…We need to stop. But it’s the same when you see in the news the government behaved the same with us! You try to tell the kids, ‘you need to stop [bullying]’, but they see the news, they see stuff in Facebook and they want to repeat…”

 

IMG_5250…or of this tough little tree in Central Aguirre that’s hanging on to precious life through the few roots that Maria spared it…

Madeline ends with, “A lot of people come from the United States and other places, want to see the water and they want to go to eat next to the water and they say oh! this is so beautiful, but when the hurricane passed? it wasn’t so good for the people.” And how — now that the 2017 Hurricane Maria doesn’t make the news anymore — she, and others, believe that people “over there” (in the mainland) “say ah! maybe the people they got everything again. No. No. No. They need… five years more to come up. If everything continue like this? maybe 10!”

Please click on links below for part 1 & 2:

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

Superpower Neglect: A Theater of Injustice (part 2)

“Maria! Maria! Nos Destruyó Maria!”

See also on CounterPunch

Maria! Maria! nos destruyó Maria! (Maria! Maria! it was Maria that destroyed us!) — Socoro Rolon, Sierra Brava, Salinas, Puerto Rico, February 5.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an article by Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria.’

Superpower Neglect: A Theater of Injustice (part 2)

Socorro is right. Maria did devastate Puerto Rico. But it was the U.S. government that spent more than a century rendering Puerto Rico vulnerable to such a disaster and then failed to mount an adequate recovery effort.

The detritus of superpower neglect is something to behold. But no matter how much we residents of the mainland are trying to ignore it, the stillness of that detritus is screaming at us…

 

IMG_5046…through the once-driven cars and lived-in houses that line Sierra Brava’s empty streets…

 

IMG_5051…and the brightly colored, destroyed hopes, and the half constructed grey hopes that lie side by side, waiting, waiting for FEMA…

 

IMG_4970…the teachers who lost jobs when nine area schools closed down, and the overwhelming desire of some of their students not to stay in Puerto Rico… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5161…through an open door of one of these schools where a homeless person or family and their belongings appear to be taking shelter…

 

IMG_4971…the kids who saw all that rain start falling on September 20 and wanted to go out and play in it, not knowing what horrors would follow. One day… two days… one week… two weeks… one month… four months with no power, no water, and the sinking realization in their little hearts that something terrible has happened. And today, every time the power goes out they get hurricane flashbacks, and no school psychologists to talk with… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5221…through a small used-to-be clinic in La Plena, where one doctor used to show up once a week, and which now looks like a clinic out of a Dr. Seuss book with cactuses growing on the roof, and comején (termites) on the outside wall eating up whatever is left of the little structure. Not a Seuss any child would like to read…

 

IMG_4972…through the words of 30-year-old Madeline, a mother of 2, and our short-term neighbor, guide & translator, who grew up in the neighborhood of Sierra Brava and knows everybody there: “The men go to work in the United States, but the women stay here with the kids. You see? The family suffered and we don’t know how [all] this is going to come up again. We’re trying but… Mommy stays with the kids, but where’s Dad? Oh, Daddy needs to go out, to the United States to work. And we got a lot of family here like that. It’s only Mom in the house. Daddy needs to work, Mama don’t find nothing here and… the parents separate… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_4939…and a mural chronicling Puerto Rico’s salseros, on the wall of the abandoned Teatro Coqui that includes an inscription in which a deity of the Santeria religion declares, “I, Elegua, order it: take out the drums!!… (mural painted by Salinas artist Osvaldo Dowell Colón)

 

IMG_5039 copy…on the blue plastic tarps draping roofless houses in incomprehensible capacities…

 

IMG_5089…through the larger-than-life figure of Orlando Guzman Vasqez who turned 74 last month, and the knee that he broke when he fell from his roof while trying to fix it (when he got tired of waiting for help with restoration): “I born over here. This is my grandfather’s house. I have the papers for the house. My father is still alive. He’s 98 years old. He lives in Connecticut… I worked in the United States for 40 years, in New York City, in construction… I lost everything in the house. The furniture, television, everything. They don’t pay me nothing for nothing inside.” But, he says, having a roof over his head is better than nothing. “I gonna try to finish this with the money I collect, It’s not enough money.” Asked if he might get fed up and go back to New York, he said no, because it’s too expensive to live there. He pointed to his mango tree. “It’s cold over there. Over here when I’m hungry I eat the mango and drink some water, and that’s it…”

 

IMG_5053…through Socorro’s house that she can’t live in. Socorro tells us that “everything was destroyed by the hurricane and just stayed the same way…”

 

IMG_5138…She told us, “You can’t live here, look at how it is, we are living up there. Total destruction… Look at the house, it is destroyed… everything got wet and that’s why it was destroyed, we used to sleep there in those old mattresses over there, and everything was wet… nothing could be saved…What can I do? Just keep going until God knows when, what else can I do?… We were helped by FEMA for the rent, but FEMA didn’t help with the interior and the other things. So, we signed up for a plan called Renace (Rebirth.) Renace came four times to check the house, and they said afterwards the house couldn’t be fixed. I have a letter they sent, and it said the house was in bad condition. The house is still like that… We have been paying what we’ve been able to, because FEMA doesn’t help anymore… My husband is sick…

 

IMG_5143and I have a sickness in my ears, and he had a stroke. I can’t do more than I’m currently doing. What am I supposed to do?… The hurricane, it destroyed, destroyed half the world over here. It took the street, and didn’t spare anyone… My husband and I went to the refuge. We were astonished because we couldn’t take anything with us. When we returned we found total destruction. We went back to the refuge, but since my husband had a stroke, I returned to the house, and we stayed though it was destroyed, we did what we could… I had to sleep on a table. It was a small bed, and everything was wet… So we have that house with a check that FEMA gave us, but they didn’t help anymore afterwards, and what we get from Social Security isn’t much…”

At this point, her neighbor Raul Garay stopped by. Seeing us, he told her, “It’s about time they showed up!” Maybe he thought we were FEMA. He told us in English, “Socorro means ‘Help me!’ That’s the translation… Socorro… HELP!”

As we left, Socorro said, “Maria… Maria it was Maria that destroyed us… Thank you for coming.”

 

IMG_4928And for that day, the curtain fell on the theatre of superpower injustice. (Teatro Coqui, Guayama, Puerto Rico) 

Please click on links below for part 1 & 3:

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Soldier (part 3)

“Living Here and Not in the Street is Worth Gold”

See also at Countercurrents

Living here and not in the street is worth gold — Wilma Miranda Ramos, Sierra Brava, Salinas, Puerto Rico, February 8.

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. One and a half years later, many of the island’s more than 3 million U.S. citizens continue to be forgotten and ignored by the federal government.

Earlier this year, Stan Cox and I stayed in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico for three weeks. We spent part of that time documenting the post-Maria situation there.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an articleby Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria’

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

IMG_5023Salinas is like an upside-down ghost town with signs of the destruction of the 2017 Hurricane Maria still casting shadows on shuttered clinics…

 

IMG_4976…on the outfield wall of the local ballpark, Parque AA De Salinas, which is filled with beautiful potraits of Puerto Ricans. This weighlifter appears as if bearing the burden of superpower neglect while symbolizing the strength of community spirit…

 

IMG_5129…on the lives of the locals, like Wilma…

 

IMG_5115…their empty streets…

 

IMG_5146…their now drought-ridden river Río Nigua, which during the hurricane was overflowing the banks…

 

IMG_5180…a flowering mango tree, seemingly leaning to shelter a broken, abandoned home…

 

IMG_5183…a lifeless splash of brightly colored, abandoned toys…

 

IMG_5127…on the face of Wilma’s pensive 4-year-old grandson Xander Martinez, who regularly suffers from mold allergies…

 

IMG_5079…on Wilma’s broken blue & grey home, leaning to one side, and a pretty blue & silver wind chime hanging on the front door…

 

IMG_5124…on her broken ceiling and the patchwork of daylight shining through the blue plastic tarp that does not prevent rain from pouring in…

 

IMG_5132…on her kitchen with the defunct light fixture…

 

IMG_5120…on her wobbly floor with patched-up cracks and Xander’s yellow shoes…

 

IMG_5136…on Wilma, and the wall behind her with a photo of her son who lives in Hawaii and serves proudly in the United States Army…

 

IMG_5269…on this fading photo of Wilma’s daughter Jomarie and son Juan Carlos…

 

IMG_5068…on fading superpower justice… (Maria scribbled on the wall of Victoria Febás’ home, a resident of Sierra Brava) 

 

Untitled 3…and on Wilma’s beautiful handwritten testimony that reads, in part:

…On that early morning of September 20, 2018, Puerto Rico dawned completely destroyed, leaving people like me with nothing. I am still living in the same place. I have a stitched-together roof, but as I have nowhere to go I’m still here by the grace of God. The people and I standing in lines to get water, food, and ice—it was really incredible that I survived it, and also waiting for the arrival of the lights for months, enduring the mosquitoes, the heat, is unforgettable.

I am one of those who did not obtain help to fix the house. I am living in it because I am not the owner of the house I’ve been living in for six years, and without documents I could not obtain help to repair it. Staying here in these conditions is not easy . But since I have my daughter and grandson of four years here with me, living here and not in the street is worth gold. I hope my guardian angel arrives soon…

please click on links below for part 2 & 3:

Superpower Neglect: A Theatre of Injustice (part2)

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Neighbor (part3)

 

Cross Stitch Pattern for Mother of Exiles

Please go to PINK TANK to read the corresponding article titled Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End.

Untitled 3Finished work

Material:

  • 22 3/4 inches x 11 1/4 inches 14-count Aida cross stitch fabric
  • tapestry needle size 24
  • six-strand DMC 100% cotton Embroidery Floss #919, #500 (two skeins), #501 (two skeins), #502, #503, #504, #725, #728, #729. You will use only two of the six strands of thread for the embroidery.
  • small embroidery scissors

Please click on: Mother of Exiles for a pdf of the embroidery pattern.

Instructions:

Version 3
Starting at top left hand corner of fabric, using DMC floss #919, leaving 10 count (squares) from the left and 10 from the top, start embroidering The New Colossus’ matter, beginning with elipses.

Below is a detail from the pattern. In the pattern you will notice that some cross stitches are half one color and half another. When doing that, I will usually place the lighter color on top of the darker color. It does get a little tedious to do the half-half stitches. If you’d like you can just go ahead and do the stitch in one or the other color. 

MOE_2 poster (1)
Grey color in the patten detail represents DMC floss #500; orange color #501; green color #502; pink color #503; & yellow color #504. The distance between two vertical red lines is 10 count.

 

IMG_4822
I used DMC 100% cotton embroidery floss colors #500, #501, #502, #503 & #504 to capture the colors of The Statue of Liberty

 

Along the edge of the image (as seen in the shoes below), some stitches are only half cross stitch, going in one direction or the other to create more of a curve.

Version 5
Detail showing half cross stitches along the edges of pattern

 

IMG_4823
The light blue color used for the hands (see pattern detail below) represents floss #728, dark blue color #729 & light purple color #725

 

Version 4
Pattern detail of hands embodying the torch & the invisible lightning

 

 

Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End

Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox

See also at PINK TANK

Untitled 3

From the early days of the Trump administration, the White House and Justice Department have obsessively sought to separate asylum-seeking parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The American people and the courts have mounted fierce resistance to this sadistic practice, but Trump’s men will not be deterred.

Separation continues despite having been officially forbidden by the courts. Last week, the White House announced a desire to revive explicit separation, potentially through this policy described by the Washington Post:

One option under consideration is for the government to detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days, then give parents a choice — stay in family detention with their child for months or years as their immigration case proceeds, or allow children to be taken to a government shelter so other relatives or guardians can seek custody.

That’s a Sophie’s choice, but the authorities are using a less emotional, more technocratic term: “binary choice.”

So Central Americans fleeing mortal danger back home and facing murderous cartels in Mexico may now be forced into deciding between having their children either incarcerated for years or taken away from them, perhaps never to be seen again. They cannot take solace in the possibility that “other relatives … can seek custody.” Even now, relatives applying to become guardians of seized children are themselves being subjected to investigation and possible deportation.

All this is happening to refugees even though they set out on their arduous, dangerous journey simply to claim their rights to asylum hearings as provided under U.S. law. For months, immigrants seeking safety through the legally prescribed mechanism—by presenting themselves at official U.S. border crossings and requesting asylum—have been turned away by border patrol agents (recently supported at some locations by Mexican agents.)

Such refusals are contrary to federal law and have the predictable effect of pushing asylum seekers into covert crossings elsewhere. That exposes them to arrest, and if they have children, to separation.

The “binary choice” policy, if implemented, would almost certainly involve the kinds of coercion that have forced many refugees into giving up their asylum claims, being deported, and leaving their children behind. To accomplish this, officials have intimidated vulnerable parents into signing the so-called Separated Parent’s Removal Form or else tricked them into signing by lying about the purpose of the form, which is often presented to them in English.

Many parents who managed to avoid summary deportation under the original separation policy that was in force last spring still lost contact with their kids thanks to the notoriously careless record-keeping practices of the federal agencies involved.

In a June ruling that struck down separation, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw noted, “The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings. . . . The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property.”

In August, Judge Sabraw added this even starker assessment: “And the reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”

As if asylum seekers didn’t have enough to fear, there is a very real possibility that their “permanently orphaned” children could be put up for adoption by strangers. One of the most prominent organizations currently housing children seized by Border Patrol is Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services. Despite its denials, there are growing suspicions that Bethany’s long-term goal is to arrange for many of the separated children to be adopted into U.S. families. (Bethany has received millions of dollars of support from now-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family.)

The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman recently told the heart- and gut-wrenching story of Helen, a five-year-old Honduran girl who was taken from her grandmother after they made a perilous crossing of the Rio Grande River in July. While she was being detained, out of any contact with family members, this happened:

According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. . . . On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

A month later, Helen was finally reunited with her family. It was a joyful occasion, but the impact of the separation lingers. Stillman writes, “Lately, at bedtime, Helen hides in the closet and refuses to go to sleep, afraid that her family might leave her in the night. Sometimes [her grandmother] Noehmi wants to hide, too; she buried her round face in her hands, weeping, when she recounted one of Helen’s declarations upon her return: ‘You left me behind.’”

Among the documents from Helen’s months in detention that the family received upon her release was a page from a coloring lesson she’d been given. The caption of the cartoon-style sketch read, in Spanish, “Objective: That the students draw one of the most representative symbols of the United States.” The sketch was of the Statue of Liberty.

In her 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus gave the name “Mother of Exiles” to what we now call the Statue of Liberty. That monument stills stands for the principles it has always stood for, but the U.S. government’s actions are now guided by the precise opposite of those principles.

The work you see here, embroidered by Priti (and inspired by an extraordinary photograph shot in the McAllen, Texas central bus station by Larry W. Smith), envisions a new Mother of Exiles—not a substitute for, but rather a present-day counterpart to, the great woman in New York Harbor.

This mother holds in her right hand not a torch but her child’s hand; in her left, not a tablet but the arcane government documents that could rip her family apart. And in place of the broken chains that lie at the original Mother of Exile’s feet, she wears a GPS ankle monitor.

A Confrontation With Kobach’s Chamcha (Lackey, in Hindi), Revisited

A week ago Wednesday, I was sitting on the ground on a mat, as I have been doing for the past eight weeks, outside the office of Kansas’ 1st District Congress member Roger Marshall. While making art in rebellion against everything Marshall and his ilk stand for, I have been making that patch of sidewalk my studio.

As I was embroidering a piece that’s intended to draw attention to our government’s sadistic policy of tearing children away from their parents (something that both Marshall and fellow Republican/2018 gubernatorial candidate/voter-suppression poster boy Kris Kobach enthusiastically support), a white F-150 pickup pulled up and parked outside the Republican campaign office, which recently popped up adjacent to Marshall’s hardly-anyone-ever-in-there office.

After loading his pickup with Kobach signs, the twentysomething driver of the pickup walked up and loomed over me for about 20 minutes, delivering a racist, misogynistic tirade, mocking my birth in India and trashing a whole roll-call of Republican targets, including Native Americans, immigrants, and Kobach’s Democratic opponent Laura Kelly.

Kuder

When the guy, after I asked him several times to go away, finally got back in his truck, I wrote down our conversation as best I could from memory. So the exchange below is not exact quotes, but rather paraphrased:

He introduced himself, but I didn’t catch the name. Then he asked who I was.

> Is that a real name, ‘Pretty’?

It’s not ‘Pretty,’ it’s Priti.

> What are you doing here?

I’m demonstrating against our government’s domestic and foreign policies… police brutality, attacks on immigrants, the war on Yemen —

> — If you’re going to talk about Yemen then you need to talk about South Sudan, Somalia…

Yeah, let’s. We’re arming rebels there. We’re the largest military with bases all over the world.

> What would you have us do?

Stop arming countries like Saudi Arabia. Stop supporting dictators.

> What about when Obama blah! blah! blah!
This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. This is about government policies.

> You’re not even from here.

I’m from here. I’m a citizen just as much as you. Are you Native American? We’re all illegal. You. Me.

By now he’d become visibly Republican: red in the face and hovering even closer as I remain seated.

> We’re settlers. You’re speaking about Native Americans? We civilized the Native Americans.

Demonstrating with his foot:

> They they crushed babies with their feet… My uncle was killed by an illegal immigrant in a car accident.

What does that have to do with anything? That’s just one incident. What about when you white people kill people with your cars? Then nothing?

> One illegal is too many. One illegal is too many… Do you have a job?

This is my job. I can sustain myself. Maybe you need hundreds of thousands of dollars of income. I don’t.

> What’s that silly hat you’re wearing?

[I was wearing a ‘pussyhat’]

> You know hundreds, hundreds of women have called the office to show their support for Kavanaugh. Hundreds. They hate women like you… How long do you plan to be here?”

This is apublic sidewalk. I’m making art and have every right to be here.

> To a certain extent.

At this point I just want him to leave so I could continue working on my piece.

But then he reached out his foot and kicked my artwork pattern that was lying on my work-mat beside me.

> What’s this you’re doing?

Stop doing that. Don’t touch that with your foot. Please leave. Go.

Then in a sing song voice, he says:

> No, ha! ha! ha! I just want to see what you’re do-ing.

He continued to touch the pattern with his foot. I thought, Isn’t it ironic that he’s using the same foot to kick my artwork that he used to describe barbaric acts that he claimed were committed by indigenous people of this land.

Then he walked around to the other side, and looked at my embroidery.

> The message is good, but…

He apparently had not grasped that it was a work inspired by my horror at the treatment of immigrants on our southern border.

> … good luck.

He started to walk away.

You need luck more than I do.

> What did you say? Do you mean in the election?

No, generally.

>What are you going to do after the election?

I’ll be here.

> Get a job

You do what you do and I’ll do what I do. What did you say your name is?

John Doe. Good luck.

Then, this past Friday night, my husband Stan and I were on the way to the Salina Art Center to see and hear from Kansas’s great filmmaker Kevin Willmott (co-writer of the recently released BlacKkKlansman), when we spotted the infamous white F-150 parked once again outside Republican headquarters. The office door was open, lights were on, so we went in and were met by the man whom I’d encountered ten days earlier.

IMG_4797

The only information we could glean from the contentious conversation that followed was the guy’s first name, but I took a video of the conversation (during which he confirmed that he was the guy who had confronted me earlier; he then repeatedly threatened, for some reason, to call the police). Twenty-four hours of local crowdsourcing (thank you, fellow Salinans!) identified this Republican operative as one Kerrick Kuder.

Recalling his racist rant a week ago Wednesday, I believe that working for the likes of Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall is an excellent fit for young Kerrick.

A Confrontation With Kobach’s Chamcha (Lackey, in Hindi)

See also at CounterPunch

IMG_4763

As I write this, Kris Kobach, the ‘He Was Trump Before Trump’ Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas, along with Donald himself, are getting ready for a rally in Topeka at the Kansas Expocenter. Kobach’s campaign manager and chamcha (pronounced chum-cha) @jrclaeys tweeted recently in regard to the rally:

J.R. Claeys 🇺🇸 on Twitter: It's gonna be YUGE! #ksleg #RemainRed #MAGA https:t.co:bsLQurDr7m (1)

As you can see Claeys’ chamchagiri (lackeyness) extends from ‘Trump Before Trump’ to ‘Trumpier Trump.’

Last Wednesday, I was sitting on the ground, on a mat, as I have been doing for the past eight weeks outside Kansas’ 1st District Rep. Roger Marshall’s office embroidering a piece that’s intended to draw attention to one of our government’s many egregious policies, a white pickup pulled up and parked outside the Republican campaign office that has popped up adjacent to Marshall’s hardly-anyone-ever-in-there office.

After loading his pickup with Kobach signs, the driver of the pickup walked up and loomed over me for about 20 minutes and delivered a racist, misogynistic tirade, mocking my birth in India and trashing a whole roll-call of Republican targets, including Native Americans, immigrants, and Kobach’s Democratic opponent Laura Kelly.

When the guy, after I asked him several times to go away, finally got back in his truck, I wrote down our conversation as best I could from memory. So the exchange below is not exact quotes, but rather paraphrased:

He introduced himself, but I didn’t catch the name. Then he asked who I was.

> Is that a real name, ‘Pretty’?

It’s not ‘Pretty,’ it’s Priti.

> What are you doing here?

I’m demonstrating against our government’s domestic and foreign policies… police brutality, attacks on immigrants, the war on Yemen —

> — If you’re going to talk about Yemen then you need to talk about South Sudan, Somalia…

Yeah, let’s. We’re arming rebels there. We’re the largest military with bases all over the world.

> What would you have us do?

Stop arming countries like Saudi Arabia. Stop supporting dictators.

> What about when Obama blah! blah! blah!

This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. This is about government policies.

> You’re not even from here.

I’m from here. I’m a citizen just as much as you. Are you Native American? We’re all illegal. You. Me.

By now he’d become visibly Republican: red in the face and hovering even closer as I remain seated.

> We’re settlers. You’re speaking about Native Americans? We civilized the Native Americans.

Demonstrating with his foot:

> They they crushed babies with their feet… My uncle was killed by an illegal immigrant in a car accident.

What does that have to do with anything? That’s just one incident. What about when you white people kill people with your cars? Then nothing?

> One illegal is too many. One illegal is too many… Do you have a job?

This is my job. I can sustain myself. Maybe you need hundreds of thousands of dollars of income. I don’t.

> What’s that silly hat you’re wearing?

[I was wearing a ‘pussyhat’]

This is a public sidewalk. I’m making art and have every right to be here.

> To a certain extent.

At this point I just want him to leave so I could continue working on my piece.

But then he reached out his foot and kicked my artwork pattern that was lying on my work-mat beside me.

> What’s this you’re doing?

Stop doing that. Don’t touch that with your foot. Please leave. Go.

Then in a sing song voice, he says:

> No, ha! ha! ha! I just want to see what you’re do-ing.

He continued to touch the pattern with his foot. I thought, Isn’t it ironic that he’s using the same foot to kick my artwork that he used to describe barbaric acts that he claimed were committed by indigenous people of this land.

Then he walked around to the other side, and looked at my embroidery.

> The message is good, but…

He apparently had not grasped that it was a work inspired by my horror at the treatment of immigrants on our southern border. 

> … good luck.

He started to walk away.

You need luck more than I do.

> What did you say? Do you mean in the election?

No, generally.

>What are you going to do after the election?

I’ll be here.

> Get a job

You do what you do and I’ll do what I do. What did you say your name is?

> John Doe. Good luck.

Neither Kobach nor J. R. Claeys offices have responded to my email inquiry about who exactly it was that confronted me last Wednesday.

Forty eight hours later…

HT3… a Manmade Tale protest…

WP_20181005_16_20_54_Pro… outside @RogerMarshallMD office, Friday October 5…

HT1… a Kobach bus pulls up & parks illegally in front of the adjacent Republican campaign office…

HT4… where two Manmade’s get in character…

WP_20181005_15_39_12_Pro… of a not-so-dark-&-distant-future…

HT5… where whatever’s left of American democracy…

HT6… is going to go to hell…

HT9… in the land of the Manmade Tale…

HT10… sipping brews and cocktails called Make America Wade Again

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… in the land of another Manmade Oath.

J.R. Claeys 🇺🇸 on Twitter: ‘Merica! 🇺🇸…

Good luck, indeed!