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KANAT ATKAYA > Letter from Gezi Park to Ferguson

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I’m following the news, mumbling “#DirenFerguson...”*

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

Maybe you can make use of what I will write. Let me try to explain to you the issue directly, through some observations based on experience. How happy I will be if I can provide a remedy to your eye, tearful because of gas, or to your body, which is tired of standing against riot vehicles.

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

I read in newspapers how you are using milk against the effects of tear gas. Experts say that milk, lemon - and even the fortified stomach medication mixture that became popular during last year’s Gezi Park protests - are actually not remedies. I personally experienced that the stomach medication mixture was very helpful, but experts say the best thing to do is simply to wash your eyes with lots of water. Stick to water, I say.

Gas masks are the best thing to have, but swimming goggles can also save the day. During Gezi, we improved our technology here at a scale that even saw plastic bottles turned into gas masks.
So, be creative and protect yourself.

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

I watched on the TV and saw that security forces are not directly aiming at you when firing tear gas canisters there. I could say, “know the value of this,” if it didn’t sound strange. But here, we saw those tear gas canisters being fired directly at people just lying on the ground. So “know the value of this.”
Still, you can’t just rely on the security forces. So arrange a safety helmet for yourself. If you can’t do this, at least wear a hoodie. Believe it or not, a hoodie can save your life.

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

When running away in panic, be careful and don’t fall down. The best thing to do is to disperse in an orderly way, calmly, in such a way that you can gather again later. You need experience to manage it, but you will learn fast.

Don’t leave behind the guy who fell down. Look after your friends. Don’t get carried away by provocateurs and respond to tear gas with violence. You will run into police in alleys, don’t be surprised, just run away.

It seems that militants who take advantage of the situation and those who are angered by panicked officials by playing on their sensitivities are not there in Ferguson, but be careful anyway.

Never take refuge in a church while running away, as the lies of the authorities and their proponents may lead to the dismissal of the priest, which may upset you.

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

President Obama has called on the authorities to respect the right to protest, to refrain from violence, and to find the perpetrators of the murder that started it all. That’s great, but I told you that you can’t trust the authorities. Such talk may start anytime: “The protests were good in the first three days, but then foreign hands got involved, Fidel Castro provoked incidents, they attacked my sister!”

For the power that you need, just Google the titled, “Everyday I’m Çapuling.”

Dear brother, sister, from Ferguson,

What hurts more than tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and riot control vehicles are the lies of the authorities and their proponents. The scales of history will probably weigh them justly one day.
Don’t lose heart, don’t break down, OK, my brothers and sisters?

* “Diren” (Resist) is the umbrella brand of civil disobedience campaigns in Turkey.

August/19/2014

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