9.05.2008

A Sign of Things to Come?

For the last two weeks there have political hububs, heated discussions, and protests both peaceful and violent surrounding the Democratic and Republic Conventions. While I have been paying close attention to both conventions, as an activist I have focused, for the meantime, on the protests and activities outside of the conventions. There seems to be a pattern emerging, at least to me, that the protests, actions of activists, and actions of police are telling the tell of what's to come in the next four years.

Let's compare and contrast, shall we?

Democratic National Convention

At the Democratic National Convention protesters came, people marched, Anarchists were arrested. From the news reports out right now, the numbers were relatively small about three thousand from what I understand, the marches relatively peaceful, and the police relatively unaggressive. There is a report from Rocky Mountain News that two young men were arrested for giving false information. You can see a list of protest related articles here. There is news that about ten other arrests were made.

I do know that more arrests were made during an anti-capitalism march, but the numbers are unknown to me. Socialistworker.org released an article explaining why the Alliance for Real Democracy was there, protesting:

My reasons for protesting the Democratic National Convention, which are also the generally shared reasons why most in ARD are protesting, are to call this party to account for its record and to make sure that progressive, and specifically antiwar politics, are heard loud and clear.


To paraphrase the rest of the article, essentially the protesters weren't marching against the Democrats in favor of the Republicans, but rather in an effort to let the Democrats know that they simply are not doing what their constituents want them to do. Interesting to me, is the fact that there were few, if I can recall any, who were there to lambaste Obama. I'm sure there were a few, but it didn't make the news.

There were, of course, reports of pepper spray being used on protesters in the anti-capitalism march, but generally the reports did not come back that bad. Protesters can be seen in photos yelling, or singing, linked arm in arm, marching, and observing.

The police in the photos seem fairly passive.

It bears mentioning that when Obama spoke, the convention was open to the public. I think this openness and willingness of a presidential candidate who has been under serious scrutiny and personal attacks from politicians and citizens alike is something important to think about. Yes, security was present at the convention (and, he's had secret service protection for some time). Yes, you needed to have a ticket to get in. But allowing normal citizens in like a sports event is dangerous, according to some people. Allowing ordinary people near conventions of this magnitude is an invitation for whackos and nutters, according to some.

Obama took a chance, some might say, but judging by the night, and the end results of the protests, I think he made the right decision. Remember this point, however.

Republican National Convention

In stark contrast to the activities outside of the DNC were the activities outside of the RNC, both from protesters and police. Large groups, up into the ten thousands it's reported, showed up to march this time, not to bring points to light for the Republican Party, but to march against what the Republican Party, and McCain stands for.

Most activists who were there were peaceful. But before they could even march, the police took the preemptive strike against the "RNC Welcoming Committee" and arrested eight people, searched the premises for weapons. You can see a press release here and here.

From Sanfransisco Bay Indy Media:

Twin Cities authorities have moved hard against the activists by pre-emptively raiding a convergence space and numerous houses, confiscating equipment, and making arrests. Despite that, actions have been going off all over in the streets of St. Paul. [...] Saturday, 8/30/08: Following the convergence center raid the night before, Ramsey County Sheriffs began raiding a half dozen houses across the Twin Cities in the morning and confiscated more items. Several Welcoming Committee members have been arrested and are being held without bail on various "conspiracy" charges. Undeterred, activists continued to hold meetings on August 30th in public parks and later at the convergence center again to plan actions for September 1st .


For more on the preemptive strikes against protesters, go here.

Now, I have previously reported about the protests, and acts of violence that took place during the convention, the main convention on Thursday, prior to and during McCain's speech here and here.

Violence had erupted, as was reported, early in the week by Anarchists, but on Thursday no such groups were in attendance. As reports come out, and the media is slowly covering what happened, people are beginning to understand just how violent it did get, against peaceful protesters and journalists who were, in fact, trying to comply with law enforcement.

Tear gas, smoke bombs, and flash bombs were hurled at first near protesters, then directly at them to get them to disperse from a bridge on which they were blockaded, and couldn't leave. Hundreds of people were arrested that night alone, never mind the arrests made earlier in the week. The tally coming in from varying sources is up to over eight hundred arrests. That works out to about ten percent of protesters who were arrested at the RNC, versus approximately .3 percent at the DNC. That is a rather large gap.

It also bears mentioning that McCain and company maintained a closed convention, and the convention center was actually barricaded up fortress style with metal barricades on the street, and around the building, complete with riot police working the borders, as well as the surrounding areas, effectively closing down streets, and bridges from pedestrian access.

Yeah so, what's your point?

Let's take a very good look at, and analyze the various tactics and tones set by each convention. Now, some may argue that the protests near the Democratic convention were milder because of size, participation, etc.. and the protests at the Republican Convention were simply larger, more aggressive, and more violent over all. This is certainly partially true.

But in no way is it the only reason for the disparities.

Some may argue that Democrats who oppose McCain are dangerous, stupid, or violent by nature, and it is some sort of telling characteristic of the party itself. Some may blame the Anarchists, and others, perhaps, have a multitude of reasons to go on. However;

  • Anarchists were present, and disruptive at both conventions.
  • Democrats and various ad hoc groups were present, and equally peaceful, at both conventions
  • Permits were used at both conventions
  • Marching and protesting commenced similarly at both conventions
  • Numbers may be vastly different, however percentage wise the arrests and incidents should be fairly equal, but were not.


What differed however, was;
  • Obama's convention did not engage in preemptive arrests, McCain's did, and sought to prevent protesters with legal permits from rightfully protesting.
  • Obama kept his convention open to the public, while McCain did his best to keep the public out.
  • Police reactions at Obama's convention were far milder and opted not to treat peaceful protesters the same way they did aggressive protesters, where as police reactions at McCain's convention were swift, harsh, and blanketed to treat all protesters as if they were dangerous, violent, or terrorists.


If anyone isn't seeing the problem, I'll outline it in a simpler, McCain support style format. The dangerously pervasive ideology among the camp supporters of McCain and Republican and socially conservative views after 9/11 have come out against protesters as being dangerous, violent, and deserving of whatever harsh treatment they got. Regardless of warrant or merit.

Some have gone so far as to compare them to terrorists.

If anyone is under the impression that the candidates and their security teams have had no hand in organizing security measures with the local police, they would be sadly mistaken. I see that the McCain camp opted to go with the "treat everyone like a threat" method, regardless if they were peaceful and cooperative, or not.

With a campaign underway with one moderate conservative hell bent on war and Patriotism, and a vice president who is very conservative, both of whom have centered their platform around terrorism, National Security from foreign and domestic terrorism, and smear campaigns with the notion that legislation will lean towards social conservative wills...it's no wonder those with opposing views are considered dangerous.

The real question, however, is one that burns and worries. If, if, the McCain ticket actually took the presidency, what then will happen to those who oppose openly?

There is a common misconception that the "Liberals" are afraid of the McCain/Palin ticket because they will lose the bid, as if we were talking about a baseball game. People , both Liberal and Conservative are supportive of, and confident in their candidates, that is not the issue. Concern and worry, however are warranted and spoken about not because of the election itself, but will will happen after the new president and vice president have been sworn in.

The fear is that if the conventions, and actions outside of the conventions are any indication of how those with opposing view points will be treated by the administration and supporting camp alike along with proposed policies and ideologies, then we are in serious trouble.

It is cause for concern.

{The photo is a still from raw footage taken during the riot on the bridge, the flashes and smoke are from flash bombs, and smoke bombs or tear gas, aimed directly at protesters. For phenomenal photos of both conventions, please go to Fear and Loathing}

15 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

In the Twin Cities during the convention, the local police were under the command of Homeland security.

The legal demonstration had slogans that fronted for Obama, as "stop McCain" and "defeat the Republican agenda."

The demonstrations politically were either oppurtunist or ultra left.

Anok said...

Ren, do you have any kind of link or something about it being tied to Homeland Security? Do you know if the DNC was as well?

Might make for interesting news, eh?

Jan 4 Insight said...

Very excellent summary, Anok. I have been thinking along the same lines as you - that the difference in treatment of the protesters, as well as the difference between the open and closed conventions, is a telling illustration of the difference in vision of the two parties.

DemocracyNow.org has the best coverage I've seen of the police actions at both conventions. Their reporting on the RNC has information about the command structure and evidence that Federal agencies were in fact dictating the police actions at RNC.

Dave Dubya said...

The FBI's involvement says it all. This was orchestrated through Reichsfuhrer Mukasey's SS and other agencies of the Bush Cartel.

"Pre-emptive raids" by police are the hallmarks of totalitarianism.

Thoughtcrime has jumped from the pages of 1984 into Amerikan "law und ordnung".

Watch for the rewards to trickle down from above to the local jackbooted thugery for their eager cooperation.

PRand said...

at this writing not prepared to respond but will say a few things.

i was at the infamous convention in chicago though not in the battle zone.

the movie "born on the fourth of july" had special meaning to me as i identified with rk on many counts - though no life-changing injuries. what was made clear was the actual physical mayhem on the battle-line itself, i.e, the protesters/the watchdogs. the further away from the battle-line, the much less volatile. for those only reading the newspapers, well, excuse me, pretty clueless on many fronts. note: blogging is a great vehicle to access a virtual battle-line

i will point you to a friend who is crazed with this election and created a blog, albeit, loves obama. likewise. i am going to point her to your site.

http://horribledictu.com

keep us posted, it is appreciated!!

an average patriot said...

You better believe it is a sign of things to come and be prepared this too will get much worse in this Fascist America. This was over a month and a half ago but do you remember the cops breaking the mayors door down, shooting his escaping dogs and tying up his mother in law? Police State madness

Fran said...

Excellent point Anok-- the preemptive arrests were particularly troubling- Gestapo like. There is a very disturbing incident of a 17 year old who was beaten by 5 cops. He was bloodies & covered by a shirt when taken away ( so the cameras could not see?) His parents were never called, and they had ripped his shirt when he was being assaulted by the police. When they released him, they gave him a white shirt with an American flag logo that said "Remember 9-11". (The Minnesota Independent ran that story). The kid was battered & had a long lasting boot imprint on his back.

The thought of under this administration & how things would be under a extreme right wing administration is a reasonable assessment.

But here is another thought-- When the streets swelled with 10,000 protesters-- guess who did NOT come to the convention?
Bush. They used the lame excuse he was monitoring the hurricane (bullshit! He could monitor it from anywhere) I can't help but wonder if the chaos in the streets prevented him from making an appearance at this own party's convention. Either that or he's such a liability they did not want him there. I can't help but think that Homeland Security had advised he not come. You can't easily hide a Presidential Motorcade with it's Secret Service entourage & bulletproof darkened windows.
I think Bush was running scared.

But to have SWAT teams raid Food not Bombs places as if they were terrorists that torture was just crazy.

Thankfully- Lawyers are stepping up to defend people who's rights to assemble & right to free speech were violated.
What really disturbs me is the distrubuting of FELONY charges.
If convicted, felons lose the right to vote, be on a jury, hold some jobs, etc.
A felony charge changes a person's life.



National Lawyers Guild Seeks Judicial Review of Preventative Detentions Ordered by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher
Sunday, August 31, 2008, 11:00 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 31, 2008

Contact: Bruce Nestor, 612-991-9488, President, MN Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is seeking prompt judicial review of the preventative detentions of six citizen activists ordered by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Nathanael Secor, are all currently being held on “probable cause holds” in the Ramsey County Jail after being transferred late last night from the Hennepin County Jail. In Minnesota, a probable cause hold can be ordered by a police officer without a prosecutor or a judge reviewing a criminal complaint. Due to the arrest occurring on a weekend holiday, all six citizens can be held until Wednesday, September 3, 2008, without the filing of a formal charge.

Three of the arrestees are life-long residents of Minnesota. Two previously worked in early childhood education and passed background checks to obtain that employment. All have extensive ties to Minnesota, including employment and family members. One is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. None of the six arrestees have ever been convicted of a felony or crime of violence. One person arrested on Saturday morning, August 30th, was previously detained on Friday night at the St. Paul convergence center where he was photographed and identified. Despite being labeled a “key member” of a “criminal enterprise” and a planner of a “criminal conspiracy,” he was released on Friday night even though Sheriff Fletcher had conducted a months long investigation, using informants, and presumably identified the “key leaders” who he claims were organizing riots and civil disorder.

All six arrestees appear to face maximum charges of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. Absent death or use of a firearm, a criminal charge of “Riot” in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor. Minn. Stat. §609.71. A charge of “civil disorder” is a gross misdemeanor and requires proof that a person made or instructed another to use a firearm, explosive, or incendiary device to cause civil unrest. Minn. Stat. §609.669. Property damage in Minnesota under $1,000.00 is also a gross misdemeanor. Minn. Stat. §609.595.

Despite the incendiary and alarmist language used by Sheriff Fletcher, there is no evidence that the common household items and tools seized in the pre-emptive house raids were intended to be used to cause death or civil unrest. No judge or prosecutor has reviewed the allegations made by Sheriff Fletcher.

In light of the fact that none of the arrestees appear to face felony charges, their extensive ties to Minnesota, and their lack of any serious prior criminal record, attorneys for the National Lawyers Guild are seeking to have a Ramsey County judge review the detentions on Sunday, August 31, 2008. This would be an informal review at which a judge could dismiss the charges or set conditions of release. Media updates will be provided if such a review is held.

Fran said...

Hey Anok- this was a great article- Would you be willing to have it posted as a *Guest Author* @ Sirens Chronicles?

Fran said...

One other thing- as long as you are doing the comparison.

Obama DID meet with Iraq Veterans & Vets for Peace, who were protesting.

McCain REFUSED to meet with reps from the Iraq Veterans group-- they lead a crowd of anti war protestors 3 blocks long!

It's one thing to give lip service to supporting the troops, quite another to actually listen to their perspective in a non photo op kind of way.

Anok said...

Thanks for all the excellent comments everyone.

Fran, thank you for the resources, and YES I would be happy for you to use the article, if you think it will help. I can send you the HTML version if you need it, or you can copy and paste if you don't need it.

PRand, thank you for the link to your friend's site. I will be checking it out!.

Sorry the comments have not been replied to and that I am being short today, I have been hanging out with blogger CRpitt, and now I am exhausted!

Fran said...

Anok! Thanks. Dusty is the caretaker of Sirens Chronicles. She will post it for you.

http://sirenschronicles.com/

Your awesome post will appear there tomorrow Friday 9/12.

Maybe you might like to have some of your posts occasionally cross- post there.

Keep up your thoughtful blogging. You are a great writer!

Jack Payne said...

Anok, nothing, but nothing, can emulate the Democratic convention of 1968 in Chicago. Mayor Daly's Goon Squads onducted a real head busting crusade in that one. These past 2 were like church picnics in comparison.

Hope I am not being presumptive, but do I detect a slight Obama bias in your reporting?

Anok said...

Thanks Fran!

Jack, while I agree that there have been worse protests in US history - I am comparing the treatment of the general public and protesters of the two parties this year.

A lot has changed legally and politically since 1968. Particularly the loss of rights on a grand scale - while the protests here may not "compare" the ramifications of the overall behavior and attitude of each party is quite telling.

And while I am certainly leaning towards Obama, the facts stated in this, and previous two posts are just that. Facts. Can't bias the numbers or events.

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daniel said...

my mate got banged up at the RNC.

ACAB!