Take That, Bus Stop Bench!

The first day of the RNC has come and gone. The Macy's a block over from my pad has had it's display windows smashed. A near by bench at a bus stop was also destroyed by radical leftists (we all know how many puppet masters of hierarchy take public transit, so score one for the proletariat). Working third shift and needing to sleep during the day, I'm crashing at my folks' place in the burbs until the dust settles in St. Paul and any and all excitement returns to Minneapolis. I was also a little worried about my car, as the garage I've got contract parking in is open on two sides. I've got an unimpressive domestic, though. The guy in my building with the entry level beamer is probably my only neighbor with a real concern, lest anyone is rocking a Bush or McCain sticker.

In the run up to the convention, the community access stations in St. Paul had a steady stream of radical leftist programing. One show was a compilation of short clips put out by the Independent Media Center. In one of the clips, a totally radical anarchist bandito said that anarchists (at least the bandanna, Doc Martins, cuffed black jeans sect he rolled with) are peaceful and aren't out looking for violence, but that they will defend their own if police instigate violence.

It took me a moment to remember where I had heard that before. It's the same thing every member of an English soccer firm (hooligan gang) has said in all the interviews I've read. Obviously, if every soccer firm was just a group of fans with an interest in self defense, there wouldn't be any violence around soccer matches in Europe (ha). In Bill Buford's Among the Thugs, the American writer was fed the same line before traveling around Europe with a Manchester United firm and gaining their trust. He'd then see the same folks who had previously split open an innocent bystander's face with a piece of rebar as the bystander tried to rush his wife and children inside the relative safety of the family's car feed that same line about not looking for violence to other reporters that approached the hooligans for interview. You don't even have to go looking for this stuff in media about hooligans. The same, "we're not out looking for trouble," finds its way into print in collections of fans' voices like We Are Tottenham.

It's the same thing the cops say, too. To serve and protect is all well and good but you know there are several members of the force who got into the business in order to tune up trouble makers.

Watching the local news at my parent's house with reporters broadcasting in front of the building that houses my condo is weird. During one of last night's local news broadcasts, one of the peaceful protesters complained that the huge police presence downtown was intimidating. At that point, I realized I'd lost any and all sympathy for the protesters.

Partisan divides run deep, and no one really cares about civil rights unless they can be used as a cudgel against their political opponents. There were several attempts made to block the buses full of delegates from reaching the Excel Energy Center on the first day. I'm sure lots of folks would describe this as nonviolent resistance, and I'd agree, but doesn't restricting the movement of the delegates and trying to disrupt the convention sort of get in the way of that whole right to assembly nonsense the protesters were crying about when the government sanctioned protest route didn't run close enough to the Excel to allow them to stop Republicans from gaining access?

Then, when police step in to clear the road so the buses can pass, as long as protesters don't lash out, it's alright for them to continue to restrict the movement of the delegates? And the police are terrible people for dragging them to the sidewalk and using pepper spray?

There is no doubt a lot of abuse has been dished out by the police, and that more will still take place, and it is especially unfortunate that some of it will fall on the heads of the vast majority of protesters that aren't blocking traffic, aren't throwing urine and feces at cops and delegates (can any of you Democracy Now! viewers let me know if this qualifies as nonviolent, too?), aren't attempting to lay down spike strips to disrupt traffic, aren't busting shop and car windows, and aren't restricting anyone else's freedom of movement. But it doesn't seem avoidable to me.

The delegates have a right to attend the RNC, and the local business owners have a right to their property (and not to have it destroyed by folks who traveled here with that very thing in mind). The violent minority element involved with the protests, the anarchist banditos with their bullshit, "we're not looking for trouble" put ons look just like a lot of the peaceful protesters and use them for cover. The banditos and the cops are both looking for trouble, both saying they aren't, and both thrilled to find each other. The cops will get to crack a few skulls, the violent element will get to wear their "I've been arrested" badge of pride, and the only folks that'll suffer are the other 99% of the protesters who get in the way.

The big problem is that there are two sets of victims and the police can't protect them both. The violent minority element is going to make the police choose between the those who live, work and own property in St. Paul and the nonviolent protesters descending upon the downtown area. I wonder if the fact that the nonviolent protesters look just like the folks that are throwing piss and shit on the police will weigh into the cops' decision making process? (Or if Amy Goodman is really upset about being arrested?)

Share this

Great stuff

I appreciate blog journalism. I hope you keep this up.