Updated: May 22
It's 3 am.
I've been watching live news coverage of the protests in Acheron for hours.
The loop keeps repeating. I can't look away.
We've seen this all before, of course. Any students. Clashes with Domestic Security. Protests turning violent. The images are horrifying. But not shocking. I wish that they were shocking. It's been eight years since the Resettlement Riots, but most of us who witnessed them first hand still have vivid memories of armed gangs patrolling the streets, snipers taking shots at immigrant families as they rushed home from church, unconscious and broken bodies left lying on sidewalks as D.S.F. sirens sent clashing groups scattering into the night, and hatred. So much hatred...
By comparison, the images coming out of Acheron seem almost tame. Hundreds of students evacuated from a school in single file lines, their hands stretched high over their heads to indicate they are not a threat? It must be Tuesday.
As I watch, the smooth voice of a demographically neutral reporter relays the casualty list for what must be the twentieth time. Just three dead - two students and a D.S.F. agent, all yet to be identified. That's not too bad. So why all the media attention?
Normally, this kind of footage would be followed by teary-eyed reunions between scared kids and grateful parents, all thanking God they got out alive, but that didn't happen this time. There haven't been any reunion videos. The kids were rounded up and loaded onto busses to be taken to a "safe location" like they always are - but that's the last anyone has seen of them. Instead of being released to their parents, they were taken into custody. And no one is saying exactly why.
It's not surprising that any parents have taken to the streets tonight. We haven't seen this type of mass detention within our own borders for years, and we've never seen it with children. NNN must have thought his was odd, too. They sent a live crew to cover the protest instead of sticking to the more cost effective method of scouring social media for usable footage. The extra expense was worth it. They were able to treat a beautiful, wide shot of Victoria Square, complete with screaming protesters, against the backdrop of City Hall and the D.S.F. administration building. It was all quite cinematic, right up until the point that it stopped.
There was a muffled bang, the sound of screaming, and then nothing...
D.S.F. and city officials are saying an unknown person in the crowd discharged a weapon. The distinctive sound of a gunshot induced the kind of instant panic that only exists in a country plagued by mass shootings. Protestors fled for cover in every direction, fully away of how much damage a single shooter could do to a large crowd in an open space. People were injured in the scuffle, but they aren't reporting any deaths. The square is empty and quiet now, so there is no reason for anyone to be alarmed.
But I am alarmed. Something about this just feels...off.
I'm scheduled to be on a flight to Brussels at 5:30. Four years of tireless work and my newly acquired honors degree in journalism has landed me my dream job - Junior Correspondent in the European division of the C.O.N.D. Press Core. I've wanted this job my whole life. Travel. Excitement. Insider access. My bags are packed and my farewells have been made. The ticket to my future lis literally sitting right in front of me.
I'm not going.