[sixties-l] Fwd: A Medic for the Movement

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Aug 01 2000 - 18:23:11 CUT

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    >Saturday, July 29, 2000
    >Philadelphia Inquirer
    >A medic for the movement
    >By Stacey Burling
    >The aging revolutionary took his place in the circle of hard
    >plastic chairs, a slightly rumpled man who pulls what's left
    >of his hair into a ponytail and wears a Che Guevara T-shirt
    >that proclaims, in Spanish: "Life is a struggle and we will
    >struggle forever."
    >"My name is Doc Rosen," he told the young people around him.
    >"I've been involved in doing movement medical work for the
    >last 35 years."
    >Rosen had flown in from Denver to teach 12 would-be medics
    >how to care for their fellow protesters if things went bad
    >during demonstrations at the Republican National Convention.
    >His topics during this four-hour class in a dimly lit room of
    >a rambling West Philadelphia house were tear gas and pepper
    >His class was a diverse group: a man in a Mumia shirt, a
    >"health consumer and Jesus lover" in a simple flowered dress,
    >a medical student, a homeless young man who travels around
    >the country "chasing the revolution," a middle-aged guy who
    >learned about chemical weapons in the military and wouldn't
    >stand out in a crowd of off-duty cops, a 25-year-old woman who
    >wore a plastic alligator snout in her hair and wants to bring
    >creativity to the revolution.
    >Rosen started by giving an order: "With as much drama as you
    >can stir up in your souls, say the words, 'Oh, my God.' "
    >Puzzled but game, the members of the class did as told, emitting
    >loud, horrified cries.
    >"Good," Rosen said. "That's the last time you get to say that.
    >You don't get to say it on the street."
    >Doc - his real name is Ron - Rosen is not a doctor in the M.D.
    >sense. He is a doctor of Oriental medicine and an acupuncturist
    >who has run a small group called the Colorado Street Medics for
    >15 years and has been ministering to fellow demonstrators since
    >the 1965 Alabama civil-rights march from Selma to Montgomery. He
    >travels from demonstration to demonstration, training medics.
    >"He's famous," said Amanda Macomber, who is helping to organize
    >medical care for protesters and heard about Rosen from veterans
    >of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and Seattle. He volunteered
    >to come to Philadelphia, where Macomber hopes that he and other
    >instructors can train 50 medics.
    >Rosen's class this night proved to be as much about a life of
    >protest as it was about the medical benefits of vinegar, swim
    >goggles and milk.
    >In between tips on how to flush tear gas or pepper spray from
    >the eyes, Rosen told war stories - make that antiwar stories -
    >about his life in many of the movements that have shaped American
    >politics over the last 40 years.
    >He told of diving into a ditch as bullets whizzed by during the
    >American Indian Movement's standoff at Wounded Knee, S.D. He
    >watched in Miami during the 1972 Republican convention as a guy
    >who had been dumb enough to wear shorts and sandals to a
    >demonstration and unlucky enough to have a bursting tear-gas
    >canister land between his legs was hosed off - without his
    >Rosen's gas mask - one of more than 20 he has lost over the
    >years - was confiscated in Seattle. He met a man during this
    >spring's D.C. demonstrations who remembered him from the 1968
    >Democratic convention in Chicago and said: "Two of your medics
    >saved my life."
    >His commitment to social causes started when he was young.
    >Rosen, who calls himself an anarcho-socialist, is a "red-diaper
    >baby," raised by socialist, union-organizing parents. Many of
    >his relatives were Holocaust survivors with concentration-camp
    >"I know very well what happens when a good person does nothing,"
    >he said.
    >While many of his generation are buying luxury SUVs and furnishing
    >their mansions, Rosen, at 52, is still driving ancient vehicles
    >and flopping on floors in strange cities to fight for a less
    >corporate, more environmentally friendly world. He spends part of
    >each year training health workers in Guatemala.
    >His work is far from done.
    >"I'm not simply involved because of one issue," he said. "I see
    >that there's an entire change in the system that's necessary."
    >The key to relieving the pain of tear gas and pepper spray, Rosen
    >told his class, is water. Ideally, it would be gallons, but they
    >couldn't carry that much. So he taught them how to do quick eye
    >flushes with squirt bottles, using his 16-year-old son, Ari, along
    >for his first "real action," to demonstrate. The members of the
    >class practiced on each other until their T-shirts were streaked
    >with dark, wet splotches.
    >Then Rosen taught them how to remove police chemicals from the
    >skin, reciting like a mantra "mineral oil followed immediately
    >by alcohol." It is not a job for the dainty, he said. It requires
    >speed and force. Otherwise, it makes things worse.
    >Rosen showed them small plastic bottles: gray for mineral oil,
    >red for alcohol.
    >"Before anybody says it," he announced, "I bought these at Kmart
    >and Target, two giant corporations, and I don't really care. I
    >don't know of any mom-and-pop stores that sell plastic bottles."
    >Again, the class would practice.
    >"Guess what," Rosen said. "In a minute, you're going to have to
    >smear this [mineral oil] on each other."
    >"Without candles?" a woman asked coquettishly.
    >Rosen laughed loudly.
    >"That is the best line I've ever heard," he said.
    >They practiced smearing and removing, which, like eye-flushing, is
    >a lot harder than it sounds.
    >For people who have gotten heavy doses of pepper spray, Rosen said,
    >the medics have recently discovered that milk works best. That's
    >whole, not skim, and, yes, Rosen knows that this could present a
    >philosophical problem for vegans, who eschew all animal products.
    >"I don't know where I would have gone with this back when I was a
    >vegan," he said.
    >Next, he showed the class what he wears to a demonstration. There's
    >the vest, its many pockets stuffed absurdly full with mineral oil
    >and alcohol, gauze, a rain poncho, latex gloves, six pairs of
    >goggles, flashlights and binoculars, a whistle, six bandannas
    >presoaked in vinegar (for filtering tear gas) and packed in
    >resealable plastic bags, a waterproof notebook, an astronaut's pen
    >(it writes in any position), and snacks.
    >Rosen, who says he has spent up to $200,000 of his own money over
    >the years on medic supplies, carries a two-liter bottle of water
    >attached to a hose on his back. There's a bag for his gas mask, an
    >M17-A1 he is very proud of. And another pack with more first-aid
    >The 20-year-old revolution-chaser was impressed.
    >"You've got to respect the experiences that people have been
    >through," said the young man, who would not give his name.
    >"He's been through more protests than I have.
    >"It's important to me to fight for the things I believe in. I hope
    >I'm still doing it at his age."
    >Class was almost over. Rosen ended it as he said he always does.
    >"My parents were movement activists," he said. "That's how they met
    >each other. They're both gone now."
    >By Jewish tradition, continuing to do, in their name, things they
    >would have done adds to their merit, he said.
    >"So," he added, "I do all these workshops in my parents' name."
    >He paused to wipe his eyes. Then Rosen, who says he is inspired by
    >the young people he sees at demonstrations nowadays, thanked his
    >"I am very honored to work with you and teach you," he said.
    >The circle applauded.
    >Stacey Burling's e-mail address is sburling@phillynews.com

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