By Marc Frucht
April 24, 2003
On April 12 in Washington, I became a victim of police violence.
I was marching with about 30,000 people to protest the war. All of a sudden, I saw a woman getting roughed up by several uniformed police officers. I tried to take a photo when one officer screamed, "Get the (expletive) out of here." Immediately, a handful of police jumped me.
One pushed my face to the ground. Others sat on top of me. Someone twisted my left leg while another beat me in my left thigh. Then I started to feel the blows to the right side of my head. After the third blow I simply began to focus only on prayer.
Two friends of mine were standing on their tiptoes across the street trying to keep me in their line of sight. One friend mentioned later he could only see billyclubs going up and down. He told me later on that there was a ring of police around those who beat me until it ended.
NBC-4, the local affiliate, filmed the whole incident, I later learned.
In the late 1980s, I spent three years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps before committing my life to nonviolence. The police tactics in Washington seemed right out of a war college. Our police departments are becoming militarized. They are acting less like law-enforcement agents and more like paramilitary elements.
At the anti-war protest, no property was destroyed and the only violence I'd seen, felt or heard about was police on protester.
In fact, the only police injury I'm aware of was when a bike cop approached my arresting officer and stuck his hand out to show how much he was shaking unsteadily from all the chaos and mayhem. "Me too," said my arresting officer, and he extended his own shaking hand out next to his buddy's. He then pointed at the officer's finger and said he had an "owie." A small cut with some blood between the first and second knuckle. Suddenly it felt like we were three 9-year-olds playing army or cops and robbers, but I mentioned that either of them could reach into my back right pocket where I always keep three or four Band-Aids for just such times. They looked dumbfounded.
"Really?" said my arresting officer who went ahead and took one handing it to his buddy. His thank you had a tone of shock, as if he tried figuring out how on earth I would even consider doing that for him.
I told him no problem. I would do it for anyone.
Marc Frucht is a Catholic worker and an independent journalist in Milwaukee.