Although the Wall Street Occupation is galvanizing about 84% of the marginalized 99%, no one stops to think that it’s the New York Police Department that helps to make this possible. If New York City cops hadn’t arrested over 700 peaceful marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge, and pepper-sprayed the unresisting eyeballs of various nonviolent protesters, thousands of ordinary people would have been deprived of that can-do, fight-the-power feeling so necessary for societal upheaval. Yet cops have been slow to take credit for their part in the fight against free-market injustice.
Time, then, someone said, “Thanks, cops.” To show my appreciation for the NYPD — yea, cops worldwide — I have devised a series of police empowerment workshops, which may be presented, for a nominal fee, at any precinct.
Exercise 1: Centering
Few people realize the psychic brutality that the police face at a mass demonstration, when up against whining, Bill-of-Rights know-it-alls. So we must create a safe, nurturing space that will allow the inner cop to heal. Have cops form a circle, cross-legged on the floor. (Gently discourage self-ridicule if the cartilage in their knees keeps popping; this is a sign of change and should be affirmed.) Now ask cops to close their eyes and imagine a big, glowing ball of navy-blue light in the middle of their circle. Suggest they relax, breathe, and just be.
Ask cops to imagine that, with each breath, this light enters their heavy shoes, travels up their uniforms, through their billy clubs, their stun-guns, all the way to their badge chakras — until it bursts out of their police hats in an arc of radiant energy — their police “force,” if you will. Ask cops to use this force to imagine themselves, perfectly safe and relaxed, chasing anti-globalization thugs in slow motion through a beautiful, deserted alley. Now, enjoin cops to imagine catching these thugs and smashing their heads — nonviolently — against city dumpsters. Play CD of Tibetan temple bells and whale noises. Burn sage.
Exercise 2: Breaking Down Stereotypes
Have cops center. Pass out paper and pencils. Ask cops to go deep within themselves, and then write down all the myths and vicious put-downs about police that they have encountered from bigoted civilians. Examples: Cops are more likely to stop and frisk a person of color than a Caucasian because it makes them look “cool”; Cops have an extra muscle in their brains that prevents them from answering calls for help in poor or non-white neighborhoods; Cops mostly bust Black people for smoking marijuana because the police are part of a conspiracy to create a global “prison-industrial complex,” etc., etc.
Channel the energy flow so that cops begin to experience their innate cop-consciousness. When did they realize they were “that way”? Were they born cops, or were they traumatically initiated into “the life” by another cop? Give cops time to see themselves as part of a cutting-edge, stylishly oppressed in-group. Are there cop tendencies? Mannerisms? Would they feel more validated in a separatist “police state”? Discuss.
Exercise 3: Letting Your Cops Out to Play
Your cops are now ready to move from fantasy to reality. Ask them to center and visualize themselves lying on a beautiful, warm beach. Watch their gruff exteriors melt away as you explain that there is a great Scheme of Things, and that each of them has a place in it. Yes, like grains of sand on this beach — or tiny strands of chorizo in a cosmic meat grinder — every cop is part of the Whole. And, as a single drop of seawater contains the entire ocean, within each cop is the entire U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
While cops are thus deeply relaxed, calmly ask them to imagine that the United States now holds over 2.4 million prisoners, about two-thirds of whom were unemployed before incarceration, or had yearly incomes of $5,000 or less. As cops sink further into bliss, get them to picture the recent, tough-on-crime laws that send people to prison for life for relatively minor offenses; the new immigrant detention centers and supermax prisons; and the long-term isolation punishment at prisons like Pelican Bay, where hunger strikes are prisoners’ last remaining calls for help. Cops should experience complete empowerment and peace with their world — most of which is now behind bars.
Now ask cops to open their eyes. Voilà! It’s all real! There is a God! Everyone exchange email addresses. Group hug! And the next time those cops bust a bunch of complaining radicals; they’ll do it with pride — and an awareness that they work for a Higher Power.
Susie Day is a writer.