It’s been a big weekend around here. Trump became the president of the United States, #womensmarch happened around the world and I witnessed five people being murdered.
God, that sounds so trite. Especially the word ‘witness’. Which, at its most simple, means watched, observed, did nothing. Which is what I did. It was loud, and confusing, and people were screaming. There were police and helicopters. I heard someone say that it was a terrorist attack, and I froze. And then I saw him drive up Bourke St, the red car already dented. By the time the police shot him, the car would be covered with dents, created by the impact of slamming into bodies. I saw police in military uniforms with big guns and blank eyes, and I froze.
I saw a mentally unwell person accelerate his vehicle into a group of pedestrians. I saw him hit a mother and a pram, the infant momentarily hovering in the air before hitting the footpath, the mother bloodied and hysterical. The baby later died in hospital.
This is only my story. I was not the policeman who rushed the baby to hospital in his car. I was not someone administering first aid. I was not attacked, not am I a relative of a victim. I didn’t know any of the people who died, but I will never forget them.
Since Friday afternoon. I have swayed between wanting to read the news and wanting to avoid it. On Saturday, sitting in my car outside a beekeeping workshop, I read every news report on the attack. It filled in a lot of the holes of what I had seen, but left me shaking and sobbing.
And then came the Women’s March. All around the world, on all seven continents, people marched against intolerance, sexism, homophobia, undisclosed conflicts of interest, fear mongering, excusing rape and assault with ‘boys will be boys’, systemic racism, fake news, the rise of fundamentalist bigotry and greed.
The Women’s March was a panacea after the events of Friday. Friday taught me that you can be killed simply walking down a street, in a city you love, pushing your new baby in a pram. And then the Women’s March showed me that despite the attack and despite there being a bigoted misogynist in the White House, we can still say FUCK THIS SHIT and rise above it.
Because, like my favourite sign from the Washington march said, we are the granddaughters (and sons and grandsons and nieces and allies) of the witches that you weren’t able to burn.