“You Will Hang” and Other Things You Don’t Want to Hear on a Saturday Afternoon

Georgia State Police at Brotherhood II March, 1987 - photo by J Michael

by Kip Silverman
photos by J. Michael

Author’s Note: There’s an interesting internet experiment called The Listserve ( http://thelistserve.com/) where people opt in to get one email from a member each day. The members are randomly selected and have 48 hours to submit their entry. It can be on any topic and often is and it is limited to about 400 words. They have a little over 19k participants so far. They selected me and published my piece on Sunday May 20.

My entry is below.

I have received over 350 responses already (within 36 hours) from people around the world so far in support of my entry and its message and I am floored.

* * * * *

[The Listserve] “You Will Hang” and Other Things you don’t want to hear on a Saturday Afternoon

In 1987, I was at a civil rights march in Cumming, GA (Brotherhood March II). I was grabbed by a coordinator towards the end- I was told to flank the woman next to me who was with a child in a stroller; there were people on the ridge next to us throwing rocks and bottles and screaming obscenities. As I tried to turn my body into a shield I directly faced these people screaming the most hateful and violent words I have ever heard uttered. I thought I had understood racism and prejudice. I understood nothing.

I was becoming enraged. I wanted to fight back. As I began looking for a rock or anything, a chant was growing in the stream of marchers; I expected a confrontation until I heard what they were chanting. To fight the shouts of “Nigger Lovers” and “You will Hang” was a chant of “We Love You” in return.

Counter-protesters at Brotherhood II March, 1987 - photo by J Michael

Kip Silverman in Cummings, GA 1987 - Photo by Bob Ramsak

I didn’t understand. How can people met with lifelong hatred and discrimination act in return with Love? In the face of people threatening to kill you, they reply with “I Love You”.

I broke inside. I collapsed. The people around me grabbed me, pulled me up and helped me to my feet. I heard the words beside me “It’s okay brother, I have you” and I regained my footing and made it to the end.

There is a picture of me sitting on a curb shortly afterward looking exhausted and dazed. 25 years later I am still exhausted and dazed.

I try to inform everything I do in my life with this experience- the morals I raised my three amazing daughters with, how I still to this day try to make changes in this ever-broken world of ours.
There are so many awful things that humans do to each other. I truly believe they can only be resolved with a genuine love and caring for each other. Unequivocally, everyone should have the same opportunity to equal treatment under law, clean food and water, safe housing, health care and good education. And mutual respect. I have not ever heard a single argument to lead me to believe anything other than this.

This is the underlying theme of the Occupy Movement. It’s about everything really. But most of all, it’s about love and respect for us all.

Email me if you want to read some of my poems.

Much Love and Respect to you all.

Kip Silverman
Portland, Oregon
kip dot silverman at gmail dot com

Brotherhood II March, 1987 - photo by J Michael

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  6 comments for ““You Will Hang” and Other Things You Don’t Want to Hear on a Saturday Afternoon

  1. Anonymous
    May 30, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Too bad the past can’t be erased. And it’s too bad that the lessons learned from that experience didn’t carry through to November 2nd. To this day, the Statement of Condemnation written by this author against David Burgess, yet to be convicted of any crime, remains on the Occupy Portland website – http://occupyportland.org/2011/11/03/statement-condemnation/.

    • May 31, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      The statement I posted explained that the claim by police was “alleged” and the statement condemned any violent acts regardless of the source in accordance to the Solidarity statement of the movement. While I agree it could have been phrased better, that was the intent. It was also reviewed by several other people at Occupy before posted and I still stand by the context and intent of the post.

      If you have an issue with it, don’t be anonymous and engage with me directly.

      • Anonymous
        May 31, 2012 at 7:37 PM

        I don’t know what’s worse, that you wrote the statement in the first place or that you still stand by it now. And I did engage with you directly about it. You approached me at the GA in which I denounced the proposed code of conduct for OP marches brought forth by Gina post all of the hand wringing by the police and the city after the November 2nd march. You promised me that you would take the statement down. You never did. You also handed me your business card which listed your profession as “professional provocateur.” Bad attempt at irony. I really have no interest in engaging with you further. If you want to begin repairing your credibility, start with issuing a retraction and apology regarding this statement. You are aware that David’s trial is coming up next week?

        • June 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM

          The condemnation was on violent actions. As I stated, it could have been worded much better.

          I am okay with my credibility as it stands and I am also fine with the fact that sometimes things I do could have been done better. People, myself included, are not perfect. I do always try to improve myself though. The next time I find myself in a similar situation, I’ll hopefully do a better.

          I was not aware of the specific court date and it would be great if someone would post an announcement of the information so it can be posted to the various social media sites to get some support out.

          And for the record, my card reads “Freelance Provocateur” and most people find humor in it.

  2. June 2, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Hi Jerry-

    I appreciate you dissecting the statement. I agree it was poorly worded and I have stated this over and again. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job at the time.

    A few things I’d like to add and then I’m done.

    I had several people that informed me of the event and there was a consensus that there should be statement made. At the time, all I had was information that was relayed to me and the news reports to work from. I did not know who was charged, there was no name and I was told it was someone not involved with Occupy. The statement was reviewed and edited by about half a dozen people before posted. It was not done unilaterally. However I take responsibility for it being poorly worded.

    The statement was posted under guidelines approved by GA in that it was meant to underscore that we are a peaceful movement and reject violent actions regardless of which side it comes from and it was commenting on a news item. The GA approved solidarity posts and news posts as long as it stated that the post was not expressly approved by GA.

    I have no idea what you mean by brownie points with police. At that point OP did have an excellent working relationship with the Portland Police Bureau and City Hall. It quickly degraded shortly after this alleged incident, which is probably intentional on their part now that we’ve seen the actual communications between various mayor’s offices and the GSA. I have directly challenged the PPB and Sam Adams office directly and through open letters on multiple occasions.

    Not sure what you mean by class interests- But it’s obvious you know very little about me or my involvement with Occupy and the principles behind the movement that I stand with. If you know me, you’d know that I am far from PC.

    Please prove to me how in my hundreds of hours I’ve spent on Occupy since October 6th I’ve stood to make a cent or profit in any way. I’d like an apology for the insinuation, but I doubt I’d get one because not only is there no proof, the idea is preposterous to begin with.

    Maybe others care about cred, I don’t. I stand on the person I am and the people my children have become as adults. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

    But if you’re going to challenge me public, it’s good for people to know the truth or at least my side of things. You come to your own conclusions, which you obviously already have.

    It’s really easy to criticize from the sidelines- Something I try not to do because I understand how difficult it can be to get everything right all the time. I have a 50 hour/week job and still was down at OP every night after work until 1 or 2 am and on weekends working on the web site, PR, hosting and resource coordination. 9 months later and I’m still put a great deal of my free time dedicated to Occupy Portland. Only a few people, myself included, came forward to work on the web team. After hundreds of posts, it’s easy that a few were less than stellar. The one in reference was poorly written. I have apologized for that many times.

    In interest of the result of the charges, the history of the court case is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/237469349676141/

    Just posted: “NEWS AS OF JUNE 1: Don’s courtroom struggles have ended. Don plead “no contest” to a misdemeanor in exchange for all other charges being dropped. He was given credit for time served. Don is appreciative of the supporters he has had throughout this time.”

    I think it’s pretty obvious that if there was any hard evidence this would not have been the outcome and in my humble opinion equates to an acquittal.

    I wish I had known more at the time of the alleged incident including the chance to talk directly with Don and more time to have drafted a better statement. It didn’t work out that way. But I’m also not going to try to rewrite history and I accept my mistakes and failures and of others. I try to forgive and move on.

    Too bad some people don’t seem to be able to the same.

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