Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Protest, Rights and the RNC

Looks like a typical day in Iraq, oh wait my bad, this is St. Paul Minnesota. Speaking of Iraq I heard we turned over the Anbar Province to Iraqi security, sweet! How long till we give them the rest of their country back?

I covered the Protests at the DNC pretty extensively, or at least as extensively as my extremely limited resources allowed. So how does St. Paul compare? I have no idea. I'm seeing more national guard in these pics. Lots of arrests at both, lots or tear gas, pepper spray, and "Impact Rounds." I'd love to be out there and see what its really like, at the same time with my asthma and allergies tear gas might be really dangerous. Theres other reasons too, like the fact that I don't have money to get there, I don't think its an effective way to be heard, and I'm not that into getting arrested, even if the charges are usually dropped. Pepper spray and tear gas look like they suck pretty bad even without asthma, then again so does getting beat with a night stick. Then again there were protesters out in the streets dancing to Dead Kennedys and also Public Enemy's "9/11 was a Joke." I'm always down for dancing to some DK!

Ok so ya want some info on whats going on? Go to the Minnesota Independent, they seem to have the most info of anybody, lots of pics and shit. This was a particularly good article from them, about the first day. I'm obviously not a police officer, but if I was I think I'd try to do a little research, know your enemy kinda shit. I'd want to know things like, the guys in the bright ass green hats that seem to be following the protests but don't seem too active. Yeah those are reps for the National Lawyer Guild, they are there to monitor police activity to help prevent the protesters rights from being infringed. In other words they know the law, or to put it another way, I wouldn't target them, they will sue your ass. BTW, expect lawsuits in both cities.
Case in point. See that guy in the bright green hat? Yeah pretty fuckin hard to miss right? Apparently hard to miss with the pepper spray too, cause immediately after that photo was taken he gets blasted at obviously close range, at least according to this report.

Oh I won't put up the pic but a great piece of symbolic art was the 20 foot long ice sculpture of the word DEMOCRACY, that melted in the sun.

Now on the other side I must say the cops do sound like they showed more restraint than I would have expected at other times. They talked about a semi-violent group that smashed the rear window out of a patrol car and threw newspaper machines into the streets to create a little barricade. They made it sound like the cops allowed this without making a big deal out of it, but shit went down later, so maybe they just wanted to wait for backup and restraint had nothing to do with it. It's hard for me to tell for certain from the report.

Another should be obvious group to avoid targeting during a protest, the media. Duh. I mean really, with the apathy of this country you can pretty well stomp all over the rights of individuals and get away with it because so few pay attention, and the little blips in the mainstream news only get a "serves them hippies right" reaction out of much of the public. But if fuck up badly enough, by say killing a protester, then suddenly the country is going to suddenly pay a whole lot more attention to you than you want. Another way to get the people pissed at you is to make the media pissed at you, so maybe another group you'd be advised to avoid targeting would be those guys with media credentials. You can spot them by the media credentials they wear on the outside of there clothes, kinda like that badge the cops wear. They also are likely to have cameras or even video cameras, another reason to avoid doing illegal things to them. They will get there story heard and they will have evidence. So again, avoid them. But obviously the cops follow a different play book than I would so here is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now being arrested, and in print. At the time I linked to it the video had over a quarter of a million views. Oh and throwing a can of tear gas at a persons feet is rude, until you realize they often burst into flames when they go off (remember Waco) then its more than rude, and again avoid doing that to media persons. I want to know what would have happened if the guy kicked that back at the police. I mean I'm sure he'd have been tackled and arrested, but could they charge him with something for returning what was thrown at him?

Here is TIME magazines coverage, the reporter seems confused as to why the anarchists group The RNC Welcoming Committee didn't like his magazine...

One last note, the anarchists spraying silly string in response to the cops pepper spray, fuckin priceless.


Zeolite said...

I live in Minneapolis and my husband works in downtown St. Paul (I used to as well, until a few weeks ago) and he says there's a protest a-brewing as we speak in Mears Park - with lots of the anarchists peeps with goggles and gas masks and like 50 or 60 SWAT peeps.

It pains me that this is going on in my city - its so demeaning and awful. The loss of freedom is embarrassing. Right now my husband is trapped in his office and can't get home until the protests die down. I'm completely against the war but not against the right for groups to hold conventions. These protests and the police response seem crazy to me.

Kilgore Trout said...

That sucks about being trapped in his office, although it is better than the guy in denver who got maced and arrested while trying to walk through a protest to catch the bus to work.

I'm a bit confused by your comment about the rights for groups to hold conventions. The protests aren't because people want the RNC stopped. The protest at events like this because it is a time when the medias eye are on that area, and important politicians are in the area. They simply want to be heard, and this is one of the better time to be heard. Same reason there were protests at the olympics, it wasn't that they wanted the olympics stopped, they just wanted to be heard.

I'm not there so I don't know if the police are being reasonable or not, but I cannot condemn the almost entirely legal actions of people using the rights we are so proud to fight for. The anarchist peeps in the masks and goggles may be as close to modern day patriots as we have. Our founding fathers broke a whole lot of laws, now they are heros.