Monthly Archives: September 2013

Reportback: Wicker Park Noise Demo

On Friday 20 September there was a noise demonstration in Wicker Park.

Two medics ran. The protest started with around 30 mostly young participants. There were no people with evident mobility issues. We observed no injuries but did dispense two band aids to people who came up to us with cuts on their fingers and gave out two throat lozenges. There were no arrests.

The overall vibe of the action was festive and chill.

About 8 police including a couple white shirts and one tactical officer were on Damen next to the park waiting for the demonstration to start while people gathered at the fountain. We left the park a little after 9:00 and went directly into the street on Damen and kept the street for the duration of the march. Medics stayed toward the back to be able to see everything. The police followed at a distance of two or three car lengths effectively running interference for us by preventing other vehicles from zooming up on us from behind. During the action when a police car on a call or ambulances approached, protesters called out to each other and cleared the street until they passed.

We went north to the six corner intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee where demonstrators lingered in the intersection briefly before heading east on North Ave.
After a few blocks we turned south and followed that street to where it connected with Milwaukee then headed back north to Milwaukee/Damen/North Ave again. This time the protesters went into the middle of the intersection where they danced, chanted, and banged pots and pans for a couple minutes then looped around counterclockwise while cars were also moving through the intersection. Medics had moved to the sidewalk for safety and a wider view of the scene. Three or four police cars moved in and blocked the west side of the intersection. This is when several cops got out of their cars and approached the protestors who then moved out of the intersection quickly. Police on foot shadowed the rest of the action.

We headed south on Milwaukee with around six police on foot including a sargent and the tac officer. At two or three places along Milwaukee it felt like a snatch and grab might be brewing when police on foot moved closer, watching protesters more intently and even moved into fringes of the group. Medics got on the sidewalk at these points to avoid potential arrest. Fortunately, the tension eased each time.

At Milwaukee and Division protesters took eastbound Division the short distance to Ashland and then scattered into stopped westbound traffic and ran back west, crossing Milwaukee and continuing west on division. Numbers by now had thinned to around 20 Around this point one demonstrator who had been displaying a penchant for moving into the opposite lane of traffic whenever it was stopped and walking in front of, around and between cars while taking a video, amped it up a couple notches. We kept a closer eye on them for the rest of the action.

Protesters held the intersection of Divison and Damen for several minutes. Some danced and chanted while others crouched behind a large sign in the center of the intersection. Some of the cars who had the light were not slowing down very much and protesters who were dancing or weaving around taking pictures seemed not very cognizant of moving cars. It was some anxious observing for medics standing on the sidewalk.

We continued west a couple blocks, doubled back and turned north up Damen. We noticed we no longer had police cars following and only two patrol officers on foot remained who had fallen back a half a block or more behind the action.

We continued on Damen back to Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave to occupy the intersection once more with around 15 protesters remaining. There were no police cars and only two cops foot who hadn’t caught up with the action yet. This time protesters were being much more bold, standing in front of cars trying to pass through the intersection, surrounding some, circling around a limo while knocking on the windows and sitting on the fender as it pulled away. Others crouched to bang their pots on the pavement out of the view of close by cars. Everybody in the intersection ranged form vulnerable to really really vulnerable.The cops on foot caught up, and a couple more materialized. They began to manage traffic and order protesters out of the intersection who headed back south on Damen to the park where the action came to a close at around 11:00 or 11:30.

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New handout: What Do Medics Do?

What do street medics do? A lot of things. We made a handout to clarify a few points and let you know just what you can expect when you ask us to be at a protest.

You can view and print the PDF for this handout here; it is also available on our handout page. Distribution is encouraged.

We have also updated our resources page! Check it out.

What do street medics do?

  • Emphasize the importance of consent for any care provided
  • Work in teams of at least two medics to offer do-no-harm first aid and natural remedies
  • Help people access a higher level of care in the event that it is needed
  • Provide referrals for follow-up or ongoing health care
  • Conduct workshops on protest health and safety
  • Educate protesters about individual health issues
  • Participate in action planning meetings to advocate that protests be planned in a healthy way
  • Provide public health interventions such as handwashing stations to prevent illness
  • Spread calm
  • Work at all kinds of protests, regardless of the likelihood of civil disobedience or injuries, to ensure a caring atmosphere and increase accessibility
  • Participate with other protesters in jail support teams, in order to offer care for any injuries arrestees may have

What DON’T on-duty street medics do?

  • Dispense over-the-counter medication
  • Supply water or food (we DO encourage organizers to do this in order to promote protester well-being… hint hint!)
  • Participate in protest tactics like chanting, holding banners, or handing out leaflets
  • Force care on anyone
  • Act outside of our training
  • Work alone
  • Charge money
  • Cooperate or share information with police, ICE or other authorities
  • Organize jail support, or act as the only participants
  • Participate in illegal actions

Ways to help street medics so we can help you:

  • Spread calm, not rumors
  • Use our batsignal: Call out “Medic!” when you or your friends need urgent help
  • Form a privacy circle or make space for medics to provide care
  • Photograph police, not patients