Collective Unrest

 

The Battle of Pioneer Place

October 23, 2019

I.

Protesters hurl organic tomatoes and craft IPA bottles at riot police. Several protesters hold their young aloft, miming the Lion King. They wear furry ears and black bandanas and Guy Fawkes masks dipped in rainbow paint. One protester has stripped nude, painted himself like the Blue Man group, beating a drum in 4/4 time, mirroring the waves of What do we want? andWhen do we want it?. Riot police hold ranks as 3D printed Banksy stencils are slapped on their shields, spray-paint applied, lawyers on standby to give the copyright greenlight. A posse of protesters with pink batons assault the Banksy reproductions. The protesters switch from beer to vodka. A group of them tear away their trench coats to reveal their best clubbing outfits—all sequins and silk and glitter. They inject amphetamines into their jugulars and psych themselves up for the impending DJ-fueled romp. Riot police push back and call in the dogs. Poodles and dachshunds chew at the protester’s ankles. Golden retrievers lap up blood and rainwater and cosmos and screwdrivers and vodka tonics. Chihuahuas aren’t sure who is the enemy, and a few turn on their masters. Police and protesters fall back in unison, giving space to the maelstrom of barking purebreds. Protest signs containing QR codes litter the street by dawn. The website gives a 404-error. Nobody is sure who won the Battle of Pioneer Place. The roaming dogs are put up for adoption, and Instagram influencers that you’ve never heard of pay a high price for the bloodiest among them.

 

II.

across the river—deep into portland’s east side—a black man is shot by a cop.

there is no spectacle.

there are no dogs, only wolves.


James R. Gapinski is the author of the novella Edge of the Known Bus Line (Etchings Press), named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018 and a finalist for the 2019 Montaigne Medal. He lives with his partner in Portland, Oregon. Find him online at http://jamesrgapinski.com and on Twitter @jamesrgapinski

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