The Arrival of the War Machine
A fiery August sunrise has given way to another hot summer day. A black cat named Leasha lies among the gladiolas, in ambush of running birds. Ducks by the pond at the end of the garden bask in the late morning sun, preening. There is no wind.
Some of the island children are at the school across the dirt road. The rest of the children could be anywhere. Many children here don’t go to school.
The first Ow-hoomp! arrives, more a feeling than a sound; a presence passing through the air.
The view of the bay from the garden is unobstructed. There are no utilities here.
Whooommp! Whooommppp! echoes up the bay, across the dirt road, through the trees and into the garden.
Leasha flattens herself under the gladiolus, ears back, looking to the sky. Ducks’ heads pop out from under sleepy wings.
Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp! A large, dark, war machine rises from the bay, up over the tree-tops and begins to descend into the garden.
Whoomp! Those men have Whoomp! guns Whoomp! will they Whoomp! shoot? Whoomp Whoomp Whoomp Whoomp!
Leasha finally makes it to the cat-door and claws her way inside. The ducks are frantically diving over and over again, deep into the water to escape. Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp!
I have no gun.
If I had a rocket launcher…
Is this scenario unfolding in some third world state, where a puppet dictator is using “foreign aid” to oppress an indigenous population? Perhaps a country that has traded away its independence and sovereignty to “international interests”. That vision is at least partly true.
My knees go weak, my stomach begins to tighten and churn. I have to shit, I may throw-up. A second chopper comes into view. Images from past experiences begin to cloud my mind: helicopters on less benign missions dumping death and destruction on innocent people.
Fear and loathing supplant love and contentment. I want to strike out in reaction. If I had a gun or rocket, I would use it now, consequences be damned! But I have neither.
This dance is unfolding before my eyes in real time and space. Right in my own backyard. It is not coming over the airwaves on CNN from afar. The helicopters, the men with guns, the noise and oppression are happening right here in Canada!!
Police action and media angles
The RCMP and the Canadian Forces teamed up to carry out this “police action”, using the annual BC pot bust as an excuse to launch a summer-long operation of search and destroy.
The thieves arrived by both air and water. A 70′ catamaran arrived in the morning to bring in the ground troops to set up for the day’s “police action”. The helicopters arrived later to “search out the enemy” and “eliminate him in the field”. The enemy in this case is a small portion of BC’s $1.5 billion annual pot crop.
The raid really got under way when the helicopters started bringing in reporters and photographers from select news media to document the bust. Parts of the operation were choreographed specifically to give the media clear footage with good camera angles. The police co-operated right down to ferrying the press around in Zodiacs to get the best views of the action.
Damage, danger, disgust
Reports came in all morning from all over the island, about minor damage to farmsteads from the downdraft of copters flying below tree-top level. Over and over the copters returned to harass private homes where there was obviously no cultivation going on.
Infuriated locals began to gather at the ferry landing to watch as the first bundles of freshly cut cannabis were dropped onto the deck of the RCMP catamaran tied to the ferry wharf. This was a very dangerous operation with a great opportunity for disaster.
When it was learned that the playing fields next to the school would be available for off-loading after 4pm, the crowd moved from the wharf up to the school. The school district would not give permission to use the fields until the children had ample time to vacate the school area. The children went directly to the fields, of course, not wanting to miss any of the action.
The ground forces secured the fields with a line of personnel to block any locals from venturing onto them. The locals made it very clear to troops present that this whole operation was an outrage. Using verbal harangues and physical gestures it was made obvious to all that the locals were very upset.
To be fair, the police conducted themselves as the professional gentlemen that they claim to be, and tried to communicate as best they could in a hostile environment.
The army were more than busy with the dangerous task of loading and unloading two of their choppers on a 40 by 120 metre field, surrounded by trees and a 100 metre communications tower.
By 6pm the sky was again empty. The police were motoring out of the bay to dump the more than 1,000 plants into the ocean, that would later wash up on the south coast of the island.
The possibilities of resistance
That evening, groups of locals gathered to discuss the day’s events. The conversations tended to be recountings of how low and how often the war machines had impressed themselves over different local homesteads.
The more vocal types, and there are many of them here, spoke of how easy it would be to bring down some of the “birds” with the most simple resistance. The Cambodians used great long bows that shot lances into the air, trailing thick cords that would become entwined in the rotors. The cords would reel the machines into the tree to which they were tethered.
Up until now cooler heads have prevailed by pointing out the obvious consequences of such actions. How long this position will hold the upper hand in the face of further escalations on the part of the government is anyone’s guess.