Vital Signs

Guerrillas In Our Midst: The L.A. Riots Remembered

Grappling with the meaning of the L.A. riots, wondering with Rodney King why we can't get along, I muse about days long ago when I was a terroristette for the women's movement. I cared so much about violence against women that, with a group of my sisters, I participated in a rampage of window-smashing, targeting theaters showing films such as Dressed to Kill and He Knows You're Alone. I know the thrill of the brick in the hand that smashes the plate-glass window of the oppressor. "I wish we would've known about this in high school," shrieked one of my cohorts, "this is fun!" We ran through the night spray-painting on streets we dare not usually walk, mini-looting by ripping off magazines from pornography stores, and chanting "We're together, we're not alone."

And so you see, I understand the terrorist impulse, or at least the terroristette one, for we would never have carried out such impulses had there been people—men or women—who had their faces or arms or jugulars cut by this rain of glass. The brick that crushes the human skull is what separates the terroristette from the full-blown variety. The rage that fuels the aggrieved rebel can be understood and indulged by society up to that point where the brakes are gone, restraint is thrown to the wind, reason and fair play are smashed, and the oppressed are transformed into monsters worse than the ones...

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