Riot cops relaxing

Rnccopppp My pal Gil Kaufman is covering the Republican National Convention for He took this great photo of police in riot gear kicking back on a stairwell outside. Gil says, "Yes, pepper spray does sting, real bad."
Republican National Convention photos (


  1. @ #1:

    yeah, especially in all that armor. phew!

    all kidding aide, kudos to these guys for putting themselves on the line when they’re actually stopping real crime.

  2. I know it’s not the case, but it looks like those vests are made of reactive armor blocks, used on tanks, etc. They’re little boxes of explosives that are designed to explode _out_ when hit by a projectile, thereby somewhat counteracting the incoming explosive force.

  3. I feel bad for the guys on the right side of the photo. I’m from Minneapolis, and I know how wild those St. Paul protesters can get.

  4. A friend of mine from high school is working at the convention (and also worked at the DNC convention in Denver). I won’t name him or say exactly what he does, but I can say that part of his job description involves a commitment to step into the line of fire for Bush (and, in a few months, for either Obama or McCain).

    After reading one of the links provided above, he had this to say in an e-mail (I’ve done a little redaction on his comments):

    “[The people commenting] who were expressing their sympathy for the person arrested failed to criticize the thugs who were throwing feces at people, slashing tires, throwing bricks at police, throwing sand bags and tables from overpasses down onto oncoming traffic below, setting off small explosions to damage cars, and destroying police vehicles. […] Nothing has happened to me, but I’ve seen what these police officers have had to deal with. It makes me feel sorry for people who are so pathetically out of touch with reality in this case, to have such an opinion about law enforcement. Trust me, I’m here in the middle of this, and I can tell you that the local police have bent over backwards to let these people protest. They have also allowed most of the ciminal activity to go unpunished, to avoid a greater problem. Some of these [protesters] have actually said that the mere presence of law enforcement has enticed some “freedom fighters” to riot. That just gets my blood boiling.”


  6. Of COURSE they’re tired! Its exhausting work being the target of mass generalizations and assumptions by bloggers!

  7. CMPalmer,

    I’m not sure what your friend’s point is precisely. By all means, arrest people throwing feces, slashing tires, etc. But how does that justify arresting journalists who are taking pictures or who ask questions like ‘why did my production assistant get a busted nose’ or ‘why are those people being arrested’?

    See here:

    I agree, the cops there have a difficult job, and it’s important that someone is there protecting people from real threats and real violence. But the mentality that the bad actions of some justify harassment of the media, intimidation of protesters, preemptive arrests, etc is just dangerous.

    Compare what our government is doing in St. Paul to the things we criticized China for doing during the Olympics. How can we as a nation stand for this? How can your friend – who is putting his life on the line protecting this country’s leaders – stand for this?

  8. somehow my experience and instinct makes me think the person quoted in #11 is lying. Perhaps because I’ve seen police lie so much and so often. This is something that has always enraged me since they already have the imbalance of power in their favour and yet are so inept and lazy they have to lie anyway.

  9. Well, #17, your experience and instinct is, in this particular case, dead wrong and I resent the accusation.

    And to #16 and #17, yes, policemen and guards sometimes abuse their power. The corollary to this is that sometimes people take advantage of general chaos to do stupid, violent, and destructive things (case in point: looters during riots, disasters, and blackouts).

    At least entertain this scenario: There is a large group of loud protesters. 99% percent of them are carrying signs, singing, and yelling but otherwise following the “rules”. Within this group is the 1% immature asshole faction that are doing the things my friend described above (which are also documented on several news sites). You are a policeman who firmly believes in the crowd’s right to protest (for that matter, you may agree with them), but things start to get out of hand. You obviously don’t immediately resort to heavy weapons, because you’re not stupid. Yes, you have all the weapons (or the “power”, supposedly), but you are heavily outnumbered and have no desire to turn this into a lethal event. As you try to restrain the real troublemakers (the idiot 1%) everyone sees what you are doing and starts yelling “police brutality!” and the mob surges forward. At this point, you can give up and go home and turn the streets over to the mob, go Kent State on them, or use tear gas and restraints to try to control them as much as possible while hopefully only detaining the troublemakers and the ones who don’t cooperate. Do any of you know a third option? While exercising this option, people are coming up to you and yelling in your face, refusing your instructions, jumping the barricades and saying they are press and photographers (when 90% of the crowd has a camera, too), so you risk your professional career (after all, your bosses are politicians, too) and arrest them all and try to sort it out downtown.

    A bit contrived perhaps, but it is fair in the sense that it neither requires the policemen to all be jackbooted thugs or all of the crowd to be rabid bomb-throwing anarchists, it’s just a fairly predictable sequence of events. Even if 1% of the security force are also power-mad fascists, the outcome is the same and they’re still outnumbered 10-1.

    The secret to having a peaceful protest isn’t to tell the police and riot squads to stay home, it’s to tell the assholes to stay home. After all, aside from providing a self-fulfilling prophecy of being suppressed by the cops (gee, what a surprise), are they really doing our cause any good?

    On the cynical side, though, isn’t it a *great* story when a reporter gets arrested at an event like this and 100% of their audience is on the side of the protesters?

    1. The secret to having a peaceful protest isn’t to tell the police and riot squads to stay home, it’s to tell the assholes to stay home.

      And the individuals with dual memberships…where do they go in your plan?

  10. “but things start to get out of hand” says it all. Some cop decides where freedom begins and ends. Not.

  11. #20, I don’t doubt that your theoretical scenario is possible, but you might have strengthened your case somewhat by posting actual links to critical press coverage. A quick spin through google news looking for “feces RNC” reveals that those highly dangerous vegans have claimed that in fact the alleged feces were a jar of coffee with soy milk:

    Which sometimes tastes like feces, or perhaps the cops were just peeved that there weren’t also vegan donuts on the premises.

  12. CMPalmer @ 20: Since when is it possible for a protesting group to govern everyone who shows up? I’ve been to quite a few protests. Since they are widely publicized, you get everything from people who just want to assemble with signs and chant the occasional slogan to people who are trying to start sh1t. It is not useful to tear-gas the peaceful protesters with everyone else just because there might be a couple of the non-peaceful sort in the crowd. I think the point of a peaceful protester is that they don’t want to have anything to do with violence, and forcing them to stand in a tiny square, under surveillance and threatened with violence if they sneeze only makes it easier for someone to end up starting sh1t. You press a crowd with no training and someone will end up doing something stupid. Crowds are not smart beasts.

    This includes the cops, who have had special training that the civilians with the signs have not. That training means cops are more liable for their actions.

    Moreover, preemptive tear-gassing and/or arrests are not a matter of safety, they’re intended to discourage everyone from showing up. Blaming the people who want to hold signs and demonstrate that they are upset for both the people who are trying to riot and the poor judgment and abuse of power of police forces is also intended to shut people up and make them somehow liable for bodily harm for daring to say anything.

    If the police want the sympathy of protesters, it would help if they were not in the business of oppressing or harassing them. Your average hippie-protester is actually trying to be obedient to some degree of law and order, and this kind of behavior erodes the participation you’re dictating. The police are being used as political tools to discourage dissent, and the reason it looks so scary out there is because everyone knows it.

    They ain’t keepin’ the peace by treating everyone like suspects.

  13. *squeeee* Takuan acknowledged me!

    Yes, exactly like that. If you treat a population like they are guilty, they will often feel like they have little left to lose and conform to your worst predictions. Or they will wilt.

    In this case, there is already a lot of tension in the air over the economy and the election, and this kind of behavior could spark something fairly ugly on either side. Let’s say I do give the police the benefit of the doubt (which I find personally painful after my experiences with law enforcement over the years) and say that maybe they don’t understand what the tactics they are being taught to use can do. Whether or not the protesters intended to remain peaceful (and if they didn’t intend non-violence, why would they be out there, risking the no-fly list and getting their heads cracked to hold signs and chant?) I sometimes think, after watching footage, that someone is trying to get a riot out of them on purpose.

    Mobs are not noted for their forethought and all these free-speech zones and other herding techniques are designed to panic.

  14. CMPALMER@11: Your friend is in the what-Service? Woops!

    Do you honestly want us to believe you outed your friend so sloppily, sharing his email with us, albeit redacted? I not only call bullshit on this, as Takuan did, but I further name you Troll. A quick look at your brief time with us (4 posts; all very recent; the only ones not disemvowelled being here in this thread; all of which taking a decidedly contrary position to most) is very telling. Your quote sounds like more like a cop perspective than an SSA, and somehow the tone stays consistent with your own voice. Hmmm. I am beginning to see Clark Kent behind that cape.

    The rest of what I was going to say to you was already said by SIRDOOK@16. Thanks for playing!

  15. OK, so I agree with you all (at least in part). Yes, the protesters can’t control who shows up. Yes, crowd control techniques are often used preemptively to make the crowds go away and to dissuade attendance in the first place. And a big yes to the fact that treating everyone like a suspect isn’t helping anyone.


    What is the answer? How much latitude should protesters be given? Who can decide when things get out of hand? If you are in a crush of people and your buddy gets plastered with what appears to be fecal material, do you hold up a “time out” signal so you can go give it a sniff or a lick to see if it is coffee grounds and soy milk? Do you ignore all threats and rumors and hope that 100% of them are just talk or attempts to sow chaos?

    I’m being perfectly serious: what is the correct plan for both sides of the tape that will prevent this from happening?

    This one isn’t a contrived scenario, so see if you can spot the differences:

    There was a school bus wreck here in Huntsville and quite a few kids were killed. Those frakking nutjobs from Westboro Baptist came to protest at the funeral because, in their opinion, God smote that bus full of teenagers because he hates gay people. They were given a place to hold their protest, because, as screwed up as it is, they had the right to do so. There was a much larger counter-protest. The police were in the middle to enforce the peace. Here is a situation where the police and all of the counter-protesters would have liked nothing better than to turn loose with tear gas and rubber bullets (or, better yet, axe handles, attack dogs, water cannons, and tazers) and most of the public would have probably cheered them on or joined in, but the Westboro whackos chanted, sang, waved their “God Hates Fags” signs, told everyone they were all going to Hell, etc. and managed to not cross the line, throw coffee grounds and soy milk, break any windshields, or do much as toss a firecracker. The police had more trouble trying to keep the counter-protesters from beating the crap out of them and escorting them safely back onto their bus.

    Compare and contrast?

    Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to get arrested at a protest to make the TSA list (at least the junior version of it that prevents you from using the check-in kiosks and gets you extra screening) or even ever get arrested for anything. I, uh, know that from personal experience…

    1. Compare and contrast?

      I’ll take the coffee-grounds-throwing protesters who are fighting to restore democracy, thanks. Politely evil is still evil. And when did everyone get so juiced up about protests being pleasant and orderly? They’re supposed to be disruptive. When did we get the idea that the police are right and must be obeyed at all times? They’re no more right or wrong than anyone else. Police power is a manifestation of the authority of the people. The cops would do well to remember that they’re civil servants, not Judge Dredd.

  16. loons are no threat to the status quo,in fact, they are useful. If the westboro loons were actually a threat, they would all be dead by now.

  17. Oh, I’m aware you don’t have to get arrested. But that is now a very real consequence of being arrested, if you weren’t on it already.

    The difference between soy milk and feces should be apparent immediately. I have trouble believing anyone could confuse the consistencies, let alone the smell.

    I think a lot of the pressure could be alleviated by getting rid of the ‘protest zones’ and just searching the people who enter the building and asking the screamers to leave the premises, if they actually manage to disrupt the proceedings. And I mean more than make someone uncomfortable. I am made uncomfortable on a regular basis by people who disagree with me, but that doesn’t mean I get to kick them out of a shared space, capiche?

    The old rules for protest, back when I was a kid holding a sign next to my mother, were that you could hold a sign and hang out on the public thoroughfare (sidewalks and other such), you just couldn’t block the passage of anyone to and from the area you were protesting. Protest zones are a new thing, at least in my experience of the process of being civilly disobedient and a measure designed to turn a protest into something else entirely or to make it disappear.

    I don’t think anyone is disputing the fact that if a specific protester is being violent, that violence should be documented and they should be escorted away from the premises or arrested, but that is only in the case of physical violence or damage to property. There are a lot of bullsh1t charges about assembling being brought here, and those are not about crime. It is not traditionally a crime to assemble (and that inconvenient Constitutional thingie has the right to assemble in it, too.) The broad-spectrum crowd control devices are being pulled out very quickly, because the person who possess them has been made nervous by what might happen.

    Getting rid of the press tells me that someone was itching for a confrontation, which also tells me that the debate here is not about the poor individual policemen who might be forced to use tear gas, rubber bullets or batons to defend one group of people from another (and who gets to decide which group is the one to be defended?) but rather that the use of excessive and unethical force is being anticipated. That which you have prepared for has a tendency to be used.

    So while I appreciate the desire to be fair, this is not a case in which a fair view supposes a mob of unarmed protesters to have both the same access to self-defense (or the defense of whatever group is being protected) as the policemen or women facing them or the same understanding of what or where the demarcation between good and bad civilian lies.

  18. PHIKUS@29:

    Uh, it’s not exactly like blowing the cover on an undercover CIA operative or passing along national secrets. I have a friend, that’s what he does, and that’s an excerpt of what he sent me. If the MiB show up at my house because of it, then it’s my own fault. Call BS if you want, but if you think your psychic lie-detection skills are so good, you ought to hire yourself out…

    I am not, and never have been, in the habit of making up stories online.

    For the record, I’m a small-‘l’ libertarian, I support the right to protest, and I have a total distrust of extremist views. I figure once you go too far to the left or the right, you have to shut off your brain to maintain that position for long. I don’t believe in big government, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and I believe that, for the most part, most people try to do good. I believe that most people don’t see enough of the big picture. Above all, I believe that all of the contenders for president this cycle, on both sides, are pretty poor choices and it’s a shame we have to vote for any of them.

    Sorry if anyone things this is a trolling session. I read Boing Boing every day because it is one of my favorite sites. I didn’t just wander by to start an argument, this thread just happened to intersect with an e-mail thread some of my friends and I were having.

  19. I hate to head off my participation, because this is a topic I’m very interested in, but I’ve been up for almost twenty hours, local time, and I have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow. I’ll check back with this later and hopefully I’ll have something more to say.

    Night, all. Sweet dreams or daydreams, as the case may be.

  20. MOUTHYB@34: Excellent points, thanks. I am strongly in favor of not allowing restrictions of use of public property.

    ANTINUS@33: Well, yeah, I would too. It just seems like too many unhappy protest outcomes are based on an “arms race” where the protesters expect violence, the police expect violence, so the police show up ready to kick butt and stop the protest before it starts, and a certain faction of the protesters expect to push their behavior as far as it takes to prove their point that they will be suppressed. My point about the Westboro protest is that abuse of police power and conflicts over political ideology aren’t always the most important factors in a protest going pear-shaped.


    I think the main problem with your little hypothetical at #20 is that more than a few of us here have probably lost track of the protests where those present have done exactly jack and shit to provoke a physical response from police and have gotten one anyway. Those would be the ones where the police make claims much like the ones you related at #11, claims for which proof somehow never seems to materialize despite multiple police officers conspicuously taking video of anyone they can get on camera. You and your friend can get as offended as you like. The presence of anyone perpetrating these outrageous acts you describe, assuming that they’re actually happening and they’re not the work of provocateurs, does NOT justify knocking someone down and calling her a bitch. It does not justify pinning someone down and laughing while they’re pepper sprayed. It does not justify shooting people in the back with baton rounds. That, sir, is offensive; the idea that the supposed actions of a few justify a disproportionate and brutal response and the idea that it’s not the fault of those exercising that response. I suggest your friend either grow a thicker skin or consider a different line of work. I have no sympathy for those who dispense apologia for thuggery.

  22. CMPALMER, consider this scenario; this one has the benefit of having actually happened. Journalist/artists from New York come to the RNC to document police abuse of power (as they did in NY at the 2004 RNC). That’s it. That’s what they did, that justified the police arresting them and seizing all their belongings. So, exactly when did the situation get “out of hand” in the sense you used earlier? When they showed up? When they decided to stand up and witness? When?

  23. Considering who got the ball rolling and how, I have no problem with statements like “Must be tiring, breaking all those civil liberties.” Doesn’t seem like much of an exaggeration at all, no matter what your covert buddy thinks.

  24. CMPALMER@35: “Call BS if you want, but if you think your psychic lie-detection skills are so good, you ought to hire yourself out…

    Ok. Since you seem to have all the connections in law enforcement, hook me up.

    What does your political party leaning have to do with this discussion? Just because you call yourself a libertarian (with a little l) doesn’t automatically make you a moderate. I have met a lot of extreme libertarians, personally, who are actually the most likely to be the ones first to get violent at a protest.

    So you just happened to start responding now because “this thread just happened to intersect with an e-mail thread some of my friends and I were having”? -I guess the same goes for the previous thread you posted on?

    Ok, maybe you’re not trolling, but you sure bring a lot of astroturf with you.

  25. FIRST COP: Man, it’s hot.
    SECOND COP: Yeah, and pepper spaying hippies is thirsty work…

    (Ground starts to tremble, walls begin to crack, and a huge red anthropomorphic smiling pitcher bursts through the crumbling wall, holding a smaller pitcher of red Kool Aid(tm))


    (They taser the fuck out of him repeatedly)

  26. Kind of reminds me of pictures of soldiers kicking back. Except that they have nicer gear, and I have a sense of empathy when I see soldiers.

  27. CMPALMER@35: “Above all, I believe that all of the contenders for president this cycle, on both sides, are pretty poor choices and it’s a shame we have to vote for any of them.”

    Actually, we don’t have to vote for either of them. There are other candidates in this election besides McCain and Obama. I think a lot of people have forgotten that we do not have to vote for the lesser of two evils. To paraphrase that one guy on slashdot, it’s better to vote for something you want and not get it than to vote for something you don’t want and get it.

  28. Having already chimed in on the side of the protesters (there’s just no excuse for the kind of intimidation and in some cases out and out prior restraint of speech that is currently going on), let me say something in qualified support of the police:

    Hate the game, not the player.

    While some people get into law enforcement (and soldiering) as an excuse to rough people up, lord power over others, etc those people are surely in the minority. The problem is largely situational. Look up the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, in which ordinary college students were divided into guards and prisoners for a mock prison. Even though it was randomly selected who would play which role, the guards got so brutal so quickly that the experiment had to end early.

    Not all cops are evil at heart, and most of the ones who end up that way probably didn’t start that way. What’s going on in St. Paul has its roots not with the officers on the streets (though many of them are certainly playing their roles and making the situation worse) but with the higher ups who put them in this position.

    Demonizing the individual officers just because they are in law enforcement does all of us a disservice.

  29. Wonder if this is what a SWAT team looks like while thinking “we signed on to bust drug dealers and organised crime, fire our guns and get some scars crash-tackling crims, wtf? Can’t score chicks talking about how many long-haired hippies I slapped plastic cuffs on!”

  30. Whatever happened to protesting with your ballot? Public protests can obviously foster change, but I believe it’s a highly inefficient way to do it. The targets of the protests usually harden themselves against the message, so protesters most often are preaching to the choir. Maybe now and then they make converts of those in the middle of the road.

    I’m not saying protests are a bad idea, but I don’t think they’re as effective as people would like to think.

  31. CMPalmer, much as we ask people to review the video of the mistreatment before getting too outraged –

    I’d like to see some evidence of sandbags being dumped off over-passes, etc…. that you mention.

    Anyone can tell a story.

  32. Imagine if there were NO protests at all. You are dealing with people who know that fait accompli is an effective way of ruling.

  33. these are supposed to be police,not soldiers. Soldiers kill who they are told to kill, police are supposed to uphold the law first. Police ARE NOT soldiers. Unless of course you wish to live in a country where your government thinks it best to talk to you through the barrel of gun held by a soldier. A police uniform is supposed to be a symbol of the Rule of Law. Not just a dehumanizer suit. Military style riot uniforms deliberately take away the individuals face so they can’t be held accountable – to others and themselves.

  34. Bllt prtsts dn’t llw y t whn bt bng vctm.

    f th plc wrn y t dsprs, prhps y cld pt dwn yr sgn fr lttl whl nd rcnvn ltr. s tht t mch t sk? f y fnd yrslf n th cmpny f ppl wh dn’t knw hw t prtst pcflly, y cn ) sk thm t lv b) lv yrslf r c) wt t b dlt wth. Srsly, ths sn’t tht hrd.

  35. I’m not saying protests are a bad idea, but I don’t think they’re as effective as people would like to think.

    Women, black people and gay people would disagree. Women didn’t get the vote by sitting quietly at home, they chained themselves to fences and smashed windows to draw attention to their cause. Emily Davison, died when she stepped in front of George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913.

    Police always support the status quo, that’s their job; if the status quo says “gay people are reprehensible” then the police raid gay bars on a regular basis, which was what provoked the Stonewall riots in 1969. Those riots are celebrated today as a signal moment when gay people began to fight in a more determined way for their rights.

    As far as voting is concerned, that’s not an option for all the people in American who’ve found themselves disenfranchised on polling day due to various legal (or illegal) manoeuvres in Florida and elsewhere.

  36. ah yes, anytime some paid goon with a club comes along and says “Stop talking. Now.” everyone should meekly tug their forelocks and go back to their huts on the local lord’s demesne.

  37. here’s a thought: force your local government to require that all riot uniforms have the cops badge number in six inch letters. That will go over like mandatory drug screening for all elected officials.

  38. As if the cops started gassing people for talking. I wasn’t there, you weren’t there, but I think it’s intellectually dishonest to suggest this is all on the cops.

  39. they gassed them for standing and walking. Preempting any talking, the same way raids days before preempted any free speech.

    Mandatory drug screens for all cops with the results published (fails only).

  40. One trouble I have with all this discussion is the automatic assumption of “Cops= bad, Protesters = good” Seriously I see a lot of “Well I wasn’t doing anything, so why me? The guy next to be lobbed a brick at someone’s head but that was the guy next to me, not me!” The protesters owe it to themselves to disassociate as much as possible from the assholes amongst them. Nobody on the main march of the protest got pepper- sprayed.

    Of course, the pre- emptive arrests and such were still really fucked up, and of course there tends to be over- reaction on the police’s part. One question though: What would YOU do if you were in that scenario? can you honestly say you’d react differently? If someone threw a lumpy, liquidy brown substance at me I’m not asking for the recipe, I’m looking to lock up the person who threw it.

    Final note:the bit about police culture changing people: very true. Also consider that police, as a fact of their job meet humans at their worst every day. I think you have to be one powerhouse level optimist to not get to start thinking bad about most people. That police sadism is as low as it is astonishes me.

  41. “I’m not saying protests are a bad idea, but I don’t think they’re as effective as people would like to think.

    Women, black people and gay people would disagree.”

    I don’t mean to say that all protests are bad or ineffective, obviously some have been. But many are ineffective because the participants are too unorganized, too unruly, and too unfocused. Plus, peaceful resistance, I believe, works better because then the protesters become victims and that highlights the injustice they’re experiencing.

  42. Dbarak: I agree, in an ideal situation everyone would take the Gandhi route. But the exigencies of the real world don’t always allow for that. And the other obvious riposte to peaceful protest is that governments can happily ignore it. Or shunt everyone into fenced-off “free-speech zones” safely out of the way.

    The best recent example of the former in Britain was the huge Stop the War Coalition march in London, 2003:

    “The British Stop the War Coalition (StWC) held a protest in London which it claimed was the largest political demonstration in the city’s history. Police estimated attendance as well in excess of 750,000 people and StWC estimated that around 2 million attended.”

    Largest demonstration ever: Tony Blair ignored it and carried on preparing for war. (With the support of the opposition party, it should be noted; they ignored the protest as well.) Compare that to the Poll Tax Riots in London in 1990 which so discredited Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax and her government that it led to her premature downfall.

  43. #62:
    Seriously I see a lot of “Well I wasn’t doing anything, so why me? The guy next to be lobbed a brick at someone’s head but that was the guy next to me, not me!” The protesters owe it to themselves to disassociate as much as possible from the assholes amongst them.

    And nothing says freedom and liberty like guilt by association.

    What would YOU do if you were in that scenario? can you honestly say you’d react differently? If someone threw a lumpy, liquidy brown substance at me I’m not asking for the recipe, I’m looking to lock up the person who threw it.

    If all that was going on here was a police officer singling out one person who’d obviously attacked them then nabbing that one person and taking them into custody, that would be nice. Instead we’ve got a lot of hysterical (and still non-verified at this point) claims about feces and sandbags and explosives combined with a lot of club-swinging and pepper-spraying of anyone who happens to be in the area at the time. The cops are claiming pretext and then they’re going to work secure in the knowledge that people like you, Baldhead, will completely believe these stories and allow them to justify the verifiable violence they themselves commit.

  44. “The protesters owe it to themselves to disassociate as much as possible from the assholes amongst them. Nobody on the main march of the protest got pepper- sprayed.”

    You hit the nail on the head. Good post.

  45. In the interest of fairness, does anyone have any links that contain photos or film that justify the police’s reactions in St. Paul? I do know that there was no justification for what happened in Chicago in 1968.

  46. @60: We raced out and just ran down the street. I even stopped a police officer. I said, “Get me to that site. Our reporters have been arrested.” But he didn’t comply. … They immediately grabbed me, handcuffed me—and as you haven’t quite talked about, those plastic handcuffs cut right into your wrist, and they make those tight—pushed me to the ground. I kept demanding—I saw you across the way, Sharif. I was looking for you, Nicole. They said you were bloodied. I demanded to be able to see you. I couldn’t find you. I demanded to be brought over to Sharif. I did go over to be with Sharif. They took my picture. They put the big white plaque under me with all my information, and an officer stands there with the picture. I kept demanding to see the reporters asking why we were being arrested.

    Says a lot about the mindset of these “journalists.”

  47. WW t ll y wh ht cps fr wht…? bcs ppl r n lngr prtstng bt rtng!! thr s dffrnc nd th ppl wh r prtstng rnt th ns gttng F’d wth, f thy gt cght p n t thn thy wr rlsd f y wr rtng thn y dsrv t gt whckd wth clb nly n dt brks th lw bltntly n frnt f cp nd thn crys plc brtlty sht p hld y sgn nd pt dwn yr bckt f pss y msnfrmd mrns

  48. Whatever happened to protesting with your ballot?

    Were you not yet born in 2000?

    Good point… okay, OTHER than then… ; )

  49. cant believe i got disemvoweled, i feel hononred that someone who wasnt there feels that they should censor ones point of view of someone that saw this first hand… did anyone see the footage of the vietnam vet that was yelling in the riot police’s face and NOT throwing human urin or s*it or breaking windows or pushing dumpsters into squads and they didnt pepper spray or cuff this man becuase he wasnt breaking the law theres a diff. between free speach and free to do whatever the f*ck you want

  50. MDHATTER#51:

    Here are interviews with people on a bus that was hit by bags, apparently sand, and some rocks. Of course, everyone in the video is an old white person and the video is up on a right-leaning blog, so I’m sure they’re all lying:

    Granted, the DNC convention didn’t have quite as much drama. For one thing, more of the protesters probably agreed with the positions of the candidates and delegates. But, as I was asking for hints on how to do it right, apparently the Denver PD raided and confiscated a lot of the more offensive protest materials (including urine and feces), which was a smart thing to do. Of course, when the police at the RNC did the same thing, they were jackbooted thugs (see the link in a comment above):

    BTW, several stories cited confiscation of feces and urine, but the guy who was arrested in Denver is the one who pretty much everyone claims had coffee with soy milk which he dropped when the police chased him. Given the way wild rumors fly, I’m not surprised the same stories weren’t passed around about the StP protesters.

    Several news stories, including this one in the New York Times, described the protests as well organized and peaceful and the police response as probably excessive and/or preemptive, but they also noted that among the thousands of protesters, there were around 200 black clad “anarchists” who smashed windows, tore down signs, and threw concrete benches and planters into the street to disrupt traffic.

    You will probably need to ignore or ridicule this one, since the author is a Republican, but it does paint a fairly balanced view of the affair (IMHO):

    Here is one more:

    Also thanks to whoever posted the analysis on why police officers begin to have a dim view on things because they spend every day dealing with criminals. At the risk of being called a liar again (because apparently government agents and policemen don’t have friends outside their secret fascist societies), another of my friends is a police officer and I’ve noticed the same thing about him. He’s still a nice guy, but he has become, over the years, much more pessimistic about human nature.

    As to the efficacy of protests and the trade-offs between violent confrontation and passive non-aggression, I think that is a fascinating topic. No one can deny that many protests that turned violent (or even descended into pure riots) have turned the course of history. Many peaceful protests have done the same thing. Personally, throwing flower pots in the street and breaking things isn’t likely to make me want to embrace the views of the protester.

    Ironically and sadly, demonstrations of passive non-aggression, such as Ghandi’s, the Tiannamen Square event, and the Civil Rights marches and sit-ins of the 60’s were most effective when destructive and sometimes lethal power was used against the protesters and it was demonstrable that they did not initiate it or fight back. That sort of horrible event does produce sympathy for the cause of the protesters. I think this leads some protesters (and I do believe it is a minority) to think that being “martyred” by tear gas, arrests, and billy clubs on the news (or on YouTube) is going to have the same effect. Witness how many people are quick to brag and blog about getting arrested, with bonus points for being an innocent bystander – and without the agitators, it wont work, so I guess they do serve a useful purpose. An even smaller majority, I firmly believe, are looking for a fight (yes, on both sides).

    OK, over and out (for a while at least)…

  51. I don’t really have a definite opinion on who’s right and who’s wrong (if anybody really is) about the whole protester’s rights vs. order.

    But I was in downtown St. Paul on Monday hanging near the Macy’s with my sister waiting for some friends we had gotten separated from during the protest march. We had no idea what was going on with all these people coming towards us until they started throwing shit. My sister and I turned to get out of the way and hello, line of riot cops coming our way. We skittered around the corner and went up into the skyway so we wouldn’t get accidentally thought to be part of the group since we had protest signs and whatnot.

    My sister said it was when she was living in Santiago, Chile during college while there were riots and the streets where full of tear gas and police beating protesters.

    Whether or not the police used exessive force, people throwing sharp objects, breaking windows, slashing tires, and attempting to light fires in an area with civilians is ridiculously stupid and dangerous. There’s plenty of ways to non-violently get your point across (and get arrested while doing it, if that’s your goal).

    Also, I hope that picture wasn’t taken on Monday. It was horribly hot and muggy. One of our group got really badly dehydrated and everyone was drenched with sweat by the end of the day. I’m wearing riot gear would just be torture.

  52. MDHATTER@51:

    Well, I posted a series of links to related stories and a few responses to items that were addressed to me based on my comments, but I’ll assume that my browser ate it and it wasn’t actually not vetted as appropriate by the moderators since it didn’t show up here.

    Here is a video interview with witnesses to things being thrown from overpasses. Of course, they’re all old white people and the video is on a right-leaning blog, so they are probably all lying:

    I also found several articles that cleared up the coffee/feces/urine incidents (didn’t happen in StP, the guy who was arrested had soy coffee, police confiscated urine and feces before the DNC con in Denver), documented the throwing of planters and benches into the streets to disrupt traffic, and even the New York Times acknowledged that while the police response may have been excessive and most of the protesters weren’t looking for trouble, there was definitely an anarchist element that was throwing things, destroying property, and looking for a conflict.

    If my previous post just got hung up, it has URLs. Otherwise, I found them all on Google News.

  53. Calmly, Takuan.

    We’re still sorting out information coming from Minneapolis/St. Paul. Part of the problem appears to be that there were multiple police and other peacekeeping forces there, heavily armed and operating under different rules. Ramsey County police officers were rougher than (f.i.) St. Paul city police.

    A fraction of the protesters appear to have displayed less judgement than your average rock. Unfortunately, the ones who made the dumber and more alarming-sounding plans tended to also have no grasp of operational security.

    If I were working for the forces of evil and repression, I can only hope I would come up with something as perennially useful as FRPG anarchists.

    I’ve read some of the plans for improvised weapons. Those people didn’t know what they were doing. They also weren’t clear on their objectives, and how their actions were supposed to address them. The award for thickest plan goes to the group(s) whose aim was to keep the delegates from getting to the convention. You don’t protest on behalf of democracy by keeping duly elected delegates away from the convention. It just makes you look bad. Also, it has zero effect on the outcome.

    All that said, the police still overreacted.

    Everyone would like to know the identity of that guy who smashed the Macy’s window. Someone got a photo. Questions are being asked.

  54. Sorry Anne and CM, I still don’t think anybody’s really going for the “It’s a shame the cops had to get rough but FECES SANDBAGS URINE DUMPSTERS PLANTERS BENCHES!!1!” routine. If someone smacks you in the face, you don’t get to walk into the crowd standing near them, start throwing random punches and then claim it’s not your fault.

    It’s really galling that people actually support the idea that police should be held to a lower and looser standard of conduct than the average person. Let me see if I can clear up the basic problem with this idea. The average person does not have the power to investigate, surveil, detain, arrest, incarcerate or use physical force up to and including lethal force on their fellow citizens. The police do. They are granted certain powers under law due to their profession that can and do spell disaster and ruin for their fellow citizens should those powers be abused. Plainly put, if you want to work in a profession where you have the ability to completely destroy someone’s life, you’d damn well better expect to be held to a higher standard than a pizza delivery person or a house painter. If you can’t hack that, quit or move somewhere that expectations of protecting and serving will be lowered to your satisfaction.

  55. Portrait Of The 1985 Handsworth Riots in Britain – Pogus Caesar – BBC1 TV . Inside Out.

    Broadcast 25 Oct 2010.

    Birmingham film maker and photographer Pogus Caesar knows Handsworth well. He found himself in the centre of the 1985 riots and spent two days capturing a series of startling images. Caesar kept them hidden for 20 years. Why? And how does he see Handsworth now?.

    The stark black and white photographs featured in the film provide a rare, valuable and historical record of the raw emotion, heartbreak and violence that unfolded during those dark and fateful days in September 1985.

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