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How does one deal with anxiety and fear when facing against police?

+4 votes
I am still feeling nervous (and a little bit traumatised) ever since the first protest I have attended in which was on May this year and I was still in high school during the time, due to almost getting arrested at the time. I was invited over for a sit-in during the time. I honestly did not expect such a moment, but I joined in anyway.
As the riot police began to expand and come close, I remained for as long as I could until I ended up backing away from the conflict out of fear and feeling guilt and shame for my actions as I see the riot police physically drag away those who have not complied to the move-on order that they have given earlier. I still have feelings that consist of 'I left them behind' and 'I can never forgive myself for such cowardice' but my parents needed me to get home safely*.

Yet, I still have a growing desire to take part in activities of direct action [and preparing a revolution] that involves such risks as it is a necessity to perform tasks that are in opposition to capitalism and the state for a better society. However I still have fears of being attacked by police ever since [whether they are arresting me or otherwise] and my parents are quite concerned with my well-being and expect me to protest peacefully despite myself knowing that peaceful protests alone aren't enough for social change. How do I handle such fears, knowing that arrest and imprisonment are inevitable consequences and wanting to take part in activities that involve direct action as it is necessary for social change? I need to overcome such fears in order for myself to become further involved and eventually to contribute to organising a revolution.

*Note: Before you ask about the political ideologies of my parents, they are quite apathetic to politics. Not sure if it was relevant to put on but I did it anyway in case.

Edit: I am sorry about any unfortunate implications I have made throughout what I have posted. [Another edit for a bit more clarity: I have been to more protests after my first one but they were not as intense]
asked Nov 14, 2014 by anonymous
edited Nov 16, 2014
I meant to up vote, dot can you change that? Sorry.

http://anarchy101.org/8908/average-time-someone-identifying-anarchist-anarchist-ideas

I'm young too btw, ^ that's definitely worth reading.
if you want to upvote, then do. nothing prevents you from changing your vote.
As much as i usually despise 'pep' talks, as my old maiden aunt told me "sometime we need a kick in the backside, sometimes we need a pat on the back".  And so, to the original poster...

Ok.  You had an intense experience and you've got some shit in your head from that.  That's normal, we've all been there (metaphorically speaking), we all deal with it as best we can at the time.
So you've got 'survivor's guilt', from seeing your friends dragged off; that's normal, but put it in perspective and choke it off on its leash.  Were your friends raped or murdered by the cops, or transported to a work kamp in siberia?  No?  Would have you staying to be roughed up have changed the outcome for your friends?  No?

Okay, now freeze the frame and pull back to a longer view.  The way the riot cops dress, act, sound, move - it is all theatre - a spectacle of power designed to intimidate civilians.  They study this shit, hire psychologists and sociologists and other fucking 'ists', for the sole purpose of figuring out how to make mostly peaceful unarmed people feel afraid.  Yet you put yourself in the path of this, sat there like a duckling in the face of the wolf, til the actual violence began - a hundred billion dollars of artifice and deceipt/ wasted on a kid who wouldn't run til he was beat.  Next time, you'll know better.
There, feel better?  No?  Too fucking bad.

Now the otherside:
Make your peace with your friends, make your peace with yourself, then follow your conscience - that in the end is the only thing that will bring you peace.
As it stands right now, you are fucked up and vulnerable - and the fucking pigs have more bastards than we can count trolling for people like you to exploit.  Heal up, and wear your scars proudly.

(A far better indication is that this question has been up a day, and noone has slagged you yet.  The irregulars here don't suffer fools kindly, but none have taken a run at you - ergo, you probably are not a fool.  :)  )
Recently found this backpocket pamphlet on Emotional First Aid from a group in stockholm.  Would have been more useful than my previous comment, but i leave it as a resource for future readers.

http://web.archive.org/web/20130509213131/http://www.noborderstockholm.org/uploads/EMO-card-pdf.pdf

4 Answers

+4 votes
a) how does one deal with anxiety and fear about anything?
wanting to be a brave person who stands by their friends and isn't controlled by people (*anyone*) being physically violent is a goal that we all share, that isn't easy for most of us, and that can take practice. some people practice by taking martial arts (not necessarily for the skills, but for the practice in having people be violent towards you in controlled situations). other people meditate (to find acceptance for the consequences of our actions, of *various* sorts). Etc.

b) you have many points in your post that are... problematic for me (the idea that getting arrested has anything to do with direct action, for example, or that getting arrested has anything to do with revolution). but i will try to ignore that for the moment.

c) caring about people who disagree with you about what world you want to live in is a common problem (you can search family on this site, even). no one can negotiate that for you (although presumably it will become easier when you've hit legal maturity).
answered Nov 15, 2014 by dot (50,590 points)
+2 votes
You have to weigh your risks by situation. Many @s discourage the notion of sacrificing yourself for a cause. This might be because it is seen as defeating the purpose, because If you aren't free to decide for yourself whether you are willing to take those risks or face consequences for doing something YOU want to do as opposed feeling obligated to or that it is "necessary". In a single sentence it may be worth considering next time how strongly you feel about what you are doing because in my own experience when you feel strong enough about something it's almost like I don't care or atleast feel it was worth standing up for myself and showing others they can do the same. You may want to search for a recent question something like," what is the average length of time people identify as anarchists". It makes mention of how you may become burnt out quickly fighting for a cause ideology future revolution or other abstractions as opposed to fighting for yourself and things that YOU care about.
answered Nov 15, 2014 by DonnieDarko (450 points)
0 votes
It is normal to feel traumatized by violence, especially the sort inflicted by police in such situations. I suspect part of this is that as much as we know that the cops aren't our friends, most of us have grown up with a mixed bag of signals about this. Combine that with the reality that the cops essentially have carte blanche to deal with people during demos, and it is a recipe for terror.

I really like dot's suggestions for ways to hopefully preempt feelings of fear in the future, and agree with her critiques conflating arrest and cd type non-compliance with direct action.

I also think clodbuster's answer rings true to me. there are times I have risked a lot because it didn't matter or seemed worth it based on my own internal balance sheet, and there are times I hung around too long because I felt like I ought to, and regretted it. Frankly, when I went with my gut and risked more I've come away better off than when I went with  my internalized spooks of morality, which mostly left me feeling pissed at the other folks I was with and disempowered, even if the latter was seen as a "victory" and the former a "loss" by my peers.

Trust your gut on this. That doesn't mean don't take risks, it means do it when it is right to do it. Also, the opposite is true - it is okay to dip out if things start to feel to hectic (just be smart - cops like to pick off individuals).
answered Mar 22, 2015 by ingrate (19,820 points)
–6 votes
Arm yourself with righteousness.

The more certain you are that you are right and knowing that they are wrong will give you strength when you need it.'

They are criminals that use violence to control others and you are seeking to end that matrix.

Look to people that are taking the struggle to them for examples, here are two.

MarcStevens.net

He will show you how to get out of jail free, never again will you have to fear arrest when you understand that they don't have jurisdiction to rule over you, all you have to do is challenge it properly.

Eric Whoru

He will explain to you how they never had jurisdiction over you and why.

When you understand that morality is on your side you will not have to fear anything except trigger happy thugs, nothing is going to stop the bullets when they fire into the crowd.
answered Mar 25, 2015 by FreeBorn Angel (320 points)
I don't imagine that you would, BA, it would require setting aside your judgments and opening your mind to ideas that are foreign to you.

If you wish to limit yourself to opinions that agree with your own, then feel free.
you have no idea what range of opinions i listen to or people i discuss thing with. unless you claim to know me in the flesh.

it just happens that i don't find your latest opinions on this thread all that provocative or entertaining. i hear them every day from people who have no desire whatsoever for anarchy. your arguments sound way too familiar to me - far from the "foreign" label you apply (as if you know what i've heard before and what i haven't).

AmorFati has written many things here that resonate strongly with me, something i find very rarely in daily life. so a little agreement from a cyberspace writer makes my day a little brighter - your assessment of that as "negative" resides with you.

edited to add:

not only do AF writings often resonate with me, they also have expressed things in ways that i don't, and expanded ideas in ways that i haven't heard before. so i don't just find agreement with them, i also feel challenged by AF's words in ways i desire - at least at this moment.
FBA: "Ok, AF, you can reject my morality by not accepting it as your own,"

i don't accept anyone in toto, perhaps excepting myself, and that's been a challenge and remains so sometimes. you see, the moral-cop is sneaky, likes to hide in the basement, pantry, wet-bar, and caves, springs and creeks i visit.

part of self-acceptance as i see it consists in concessions i make for others, simply being themselves as they appear to me in all their unique perfection, simply as they 'are.' i'm reminded here of Nietzsche's 'Ecce Homo: wie man wird; was man ist.' most cannot grasp this short, but very powerful moment.

anyhow...
sometimes the warmth of another,  their vibration, their melody sings to me in ways i cannot wrap the proverbial left-half of my head around. sometimes they may do shit they know will hurt me, and that is perfection, too.

what others do is very often unintelligible according to any abstract pyramid schemes...yet, it's no less real for it, since it actually happened. the desires of others are, in so many ways, unfathomable to me, but that goes for every one i've met. no amount of connecting the dots logically to find, justify, or apologize for, its 'truth' matters 'objectively.'

the sole passion i can find driving so many people toward this concern for bloodless 'truths' is this: only when we are so fragmented socially, so broken through incessant conceptualization (economics, morality, religion, etc) and reification, ' power relations and technologies based upon the same, as well as internalizing the violence, terror, and over-all silencing, and thus fragmenting each self from itself. this has manifested in, and as, mass society, the ideological wet-dream of every universalist/moralist since the beginning of civilization, even though they may not have intended all the consequences bearing this foul fruit of vague, bland, lifeless ideals. everything, from mass communication, to mass transit. ponder this a bit, o moralist.

"that is absolute,"

this has nothing to do with our stupid theologies (opinions) of 'absolutes,' but may be seen in every way based in the uniqueness of every sensuous body.

so...throw that rock and see what happens...

edit to add thoughts
af, i really liked this part...

"the sole passion i can find driving so many people toward this concern for bloodless 'truths' is this: only when we are so fragmented socially, so broken through incessant conceptualization (economics, morality, religion, etc) and reification, ' power relations and technologies based upon the same, as well as internalizing the violence, terror, and over-all silencing, and thus fragmenting each self from itself. this has manifested in, and as, mass society, the ideological wet-dream of every universalist/moralist since the beginning of civilization, even though they may not have intended all the consequences bearing this foul fruit of vague, bland, lifeless ideals. everything, from mass communication, to mass transit."

it also leads me to deeper questions, such as why has this process (social fragmentation, incessant conceptualization, etc.) become more and more dominant during my lifetime.

fear has something to do with it i think. but perhaps a cosmic game of hide and go seek does as well. i like to play a lot, and i think it helps me to enjoy life more by looking at things that way - seeing not only the fear behind the silence and fragmentation, but also the potential for joy by rediscovering something you lost.

edit: grammar, additional thoughts.
i tend to see the connection between technology and morality as very important. i thought it telling that Sweater Fish didn't answer the challenge i sent them regarding their notion that 'we all would' answer the question of right/wrong, by questioning as to how: by way of the internet?

dot has pointed out the theoretic jabbing, which is pretty easy in the case of SF and FBA precisely because they seem to separate theory from practice while making their attempts to bridge this (arbitrary and senseless) chasm through thought experiments (ex: 'What if someone threw a brick at you...').

it seems to me that fear does play a huge part in morality, technology, and the work insisted upon and practiced so voraciously in order to reproduce more of the same. all of it bespeaks, to me anyway, of a deep hatred of life and an inclination toward a sense of playful gratitude toward one's own totality...or however others wish to phrase it.

then again, i'm soooo negative. :-)
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