On Jan. 20, thousands of protesters from across the country descended upon Washington D.C. to protest the inauguration of proto-fascist Donald Trump. Several hundred of these dissenters participated in an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist march that resulted in the arrests of over 230 people.
I was arrested that day and, along with 214 others, currently face decades in prison. July 7 marked the first sentencing of a co-defendant. His name is Dane Powell, and he is someone who should be looked up to.
Dane Powell, who can be seen in videos from J20 removing a child from harm’s way, was sent to prison on July 7 for employing escalated tactics against a bourgeoning fascist regime. The Metropolitan Police Department unlawfully deployed stun grenades, tear gas and kettling tactics in their pursuit of protesters through the streets of downtown Washington D.C. Reports have also surfaced of sexual assault committed by officers while protestors were in police custody.
Dane, like myself, has roots in Florida and was present at the Standing Rock protests which aimed to stall the Dakota Access Pipeline protests which have brought conversations about neo-colonialism to the forefront. Powell attended the inauguration knowing that the possibilities of being injured or arrested were high. When his daughter asked why he would not let someone else do the fighting, his response was “we can’t live our lives hoping for someone else to come and fix things for us.”
As he sits in a cell for the next four months, I want Dane Powell to know that he is an inspiration. His bravery is helping me brace for whatever the government wants to throw my way. I am sure my 200+ co-defendants would agree.
Though the world finds itself confronting multiple crises ranging from war, wealth disparity and the eventual death of our planet, issues worsened through the perpetuation of capitalism, you would be hard-pressed to see anyone in San Marcos doing anything about it. Dane Powell, knowing he had everything to lose, knew that residing on the sidelines was conceding defeat.
Dear reader, I do not mean to insult you, but chances are the most active you have been in the last year-and-a-half is critiquing our president at your favorite bar. When individuals like Dane Powell place, not just their freedom, but their very lives on the line in our never-ending struggle against oppression, you have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with them. Your decision to remain neutral makes you complicit in further actions undertaken by the Trump regime.
The future belongs to the daring individuals willing to fight back against fascism. Dane Powell is one of these individuals. My hundreds of co-defendants and I know who we stand with. Do you?
– Rudy Martinez is a philosophy senior