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[P]
Protesters plan "peaceful" mass blockade.

By enterfornone in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 03:51:00 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

On May 1 Sydney, Australia will play host to one of a number of anti-capitalism protests being staged worldwide under the banner of M1. Up to 5000 protesters are expected to gather outside the Stock Exchange beginning at 7am.

Keen to escape the reputation of previous protests, such as Melbourne's S11 and the legendary Battle of Seattle, organisers of M1 are stressing that this will be a peaceful protest. But when you begin to read into their plans, it becomes obvious that this protest will be anything but peaceful.


According to the Sydney Morning Herald, protesters plan to gather outside the Stock Exchange at 7am and block all entrances. The claim the blockade will be peaceful, however they state that "Our hope is that the police are not silly enough to try to get between us and the entrances. That's when violence will happen."

It does not take too much effort to work out what the result will be. Protesters will "peacefully" block the entrance to the Stock Exchange. Workers trying to go about their daily business will be refused entry. The police will attempt to move the protesters on. And then the protesters, later claiming provocation, will start the riot.

In Melbourne, things are far less subtle. According to The Age the Melbourne Stock Exchance will be closed down due to fears for workers safety. The decision was made due to anarchist groups planing to use black bloc tactics, which were used during the recent violent protests in Quebec.

While organisers try to distance themselves from the more militant protesters, there is little doubt that when the police attempt to use their powers to bring the violent few into line, as happened in S11, the supposedly peaceful many will retaliate. Of course afterwards we can expect to see cries of police brutality, but looking at this beforehand, it is clear that no one expects M1 to be peaceful.

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Poll
M1
o will be a peaceful protest 3%
o will be violent, due to the protesters 40%
o will be violent, due to the police 34%
o will be violent, due to the stockbrokers 21%

Votes: 89
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o anti-capit alism protests
o Melbourne' s S11
o Battle of Seattle
o organisers
o Sydney Morning Herald
o The Age
o black bloc
o Quebec
o Also by enterfornone


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Protesters plan "peaceful" mass blockade. | 94 comments (83 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
London (4.13 / 15) (#1)
by spiralx on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:42:34 AM EST

And of course, there'll be the same thing in London tomorrow as well. This year, it's themed on Monopoly, with multiple events occuring at locations off of the Monopoly board.

We got an email sent round at work with some tips for tomorrow, including...

  • It will be a "dress down" day on Tuesday, however as the Company "dress code" policy states please ensure you have an appropriate change of clothing with you should you be meeting clients.
  • Try not to carry around obvious office workers accessories eg lap top's or brief cases.
  • Consider taking alternative routes home should your route involve any of the proposed demonstration sites, (eg. Oxford Street).
  • Please try to be extra vigilant and careful if outside throughout the day, keep away from potentially hazardous situations (ie large groups of protesters)
  • Avoid obvious targets such as fast food chains

Heh. Should be fun. And I can go join in the parties after work as well :)

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

A few sarcastic comments (2.57 / 7) (#10)
by titivillus on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:42:10 AM EST

  • It will be a "dress down" day on Tuesday, however as the Company "dress code" policy states please ensure you have an appropriate change of clothing with you should you be meeting clients.
    Of course, clients love to come down to visit a war zone!
  • Try not to carry around obvious office workers accessories eg lap top's or brief cases.
    I have no sarcastic comment on this one.
  • Consider taking alternative routes home should your route involve any of the proposed demonstration sites, (eg. Oxford Street).
    Driving right through a protest is considered bad form....
  • Please try to be extra vigilant and careful if outside throughout the day, keep away from potentially hazardous situations (ie large groups of protesters)
    My, I thought feeding the bears was fun. Now this is a real extreme sport.
  • Avoid obvious targets such as fast food chains
    Then again, if you have an hour for lunch, including time there and time back, fast food is the obvious choice, as otherwise you're waiting too long.


[ Parent ]
RE: London (4.18 / 11) (#11)
by dcodea on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:51:37 AM EST

I'm an American student studying in London, and I'm looking forward to my first riot.

All the students in the dorm I live in assure me that the demostrations will not remain peaceful, speaking from past experience. They're all planning which demonstrations to take part in, and exactly which shops on Oxford street to loot. It is being billed as the "Sale of the Century," after all.

I'm somewhat disconcerted by the cavalier attitude my dorm-mates show towards the violence. It's much more accepted than at home, as far as my experience goes. I've never been involved in a riot, and doubt I'll do much actual rioting, though picture taking should be fun. It'll be good to see first-hand the interactions between the deomnstrators(if you can call them that; most people on the street will be there strictly for violence, I'm afraid) and the police. Should be enlightening.

Who Dares Wins
[ Parent ]

UK's Cavalier attitude to violence (3.50 / 6) (#12)
by nobbystyles on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:57:27 AM EST

I think that the UK is a violent place. You're more likely to get physically assualted here than most other western countries including the States. There's a culture of the friday/saturday night fist fight, soccer hooliganism etc...

The funny thing is that the murder rate here is one the lowest in the world. I think people here like putting people in hospital rather than the graveyard....

[ Parent ]
Heh, The Capitalist Lords Are Afraid. (1.28 / 7) (#53)
by moshez on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:10:51 AM EST

And this is a good thing. Anarchists can make the capitalist lords shit their pants. We are the people, we have the power!

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
No it's the rest of us (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by nobbystyles on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:44:53 AM EST

Who suffer. Most of the high and mighties at these investment banks in London are 'working' from home today. My mum who works at a department store in Oxford Street where the protest is heading is very afraid but still has to turn up to work...

These protests make f*ck all difference as they are too unfocused... Just an excuse to kick in a few windows...

[ Parent ]
dress down day (2.00 / 1) (#58)
by streetlawyer on Tue May 01, 2001 at 05:52:27 AM EST

It will be a "dress down" day on Tuesday

Fantastic isn't it, the mindset that reckons that you can put a stockbroker into a pair of khakis and a polo shirt, and suddenly he'll blend in seamlessly with Swampy!

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Why are these people allowed to get away with this (2.74 / 27) (#2)
by Eric Jonson on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:51:22 AM EST

Thank God these people haven't decided my current home is worth protesting in. I value my property too much, and I have no real desire to be judged by a group of hormonal 20-somethings with a grudge against those doing better than themselves.

But why are they allowed to get away with it, year after year? Why on Earth should police forces let them protest, knowing that it's going to end in nothing but violence and property destruction? I mean, peaceful protest is one thing, but these people's only agenda is violence against people that have worked hard to get where they are.

The people that participate in these events should be treated as terrorists, because that's what they are. They have no real agenda apart from lunatic rantings about the evils of the "system" and seem determined to believe that the only way to change the system is through smashing windows and setting fire to things.

Unless people act like adults, why should be treat them like adults?

A proper place for protests (3.92 / 13) (#4)
by leviathan on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:22:17 AM EST

Unfortunately, we can't trust the authorities to decide what is going to be peaceful before the event, because that would allow them to decide what protests to shut down before the event. That said, it's a fairly good bet that tomorrow's demonstrations in London aren't going to be entirely peaceful, going by past events. Hence the police are talking about using 'rubber' bullets. I seem to recall that (someone correct me) it would be the first time they have been used in this country outside of Northern Ireland.

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]
Rubber bullets not going to be used (4.14 / 7) (#7)
by nobbystyles on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:26:39 AM EST

This BBC story says that the Met police commisioner has ruled out using rubber bullets or 'baton rounds'. It's just that nobber, Lord Harris the chairman of the GLA police committee, overdramatizing things. I think the perceived threat does not in anyway justify the use of them. It's not exactly the Infatida or Northern Ireland for God's sake...



[ Parent ]
Whoops (3.80 / 5) (#8)
by nobbystyles on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:33:48 AM EST

BBC story link is here.



[ Parent ]
Liberty is always... (4.20 / 10) (#6)
by B'Trey on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:42:07 AM EST

Liberty is always supressed in the name of law and order.

I don't know where your current home, or your previous home, for that matter, is located. You thank God that the protesters aren't there. I'll thank God that I live in a country where there are at least some restrictions on the law enforcement types who think as you do.

There are two principles here: the right of free speech, and the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. You ask "Why on Earth should police forces let them protest, knowing that it's going to end in nothing but violence and property destruction?" Your question shows your bias. It assumes that the police force has the automatic authority to prevent the protest. After all, that's want "allow" means.

There are, of course, places where the police don't "allow" demonstrations which they find unpalatable. There are places where the police have the authority to decide that a group of protesters is guilty before they've committed a single crime. There are places where merely planning a peaceful demonstration is an act of terrorism. There are places where any disagreement with the status quo is automatically classified as fringe lunatic ravings. I thank God that I don't live in such a place.

I don't support the attitudes and opinions espoused by these particular protestors. Peaceful protest doesn't include physically restricting access to public places. But I do support the right of anyone to have their say, even if I disagree with it, and I support the right of anyone to be assumed innocent until they actually do something criminal.

[ Parent ]

Liberty is overhyped :) (2.16 / 6) (#9)
by Eric Jonson on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:38:13 AM EST

Liberty is always supressed in the name of law and order.

That's hardly a revelation, ever since the first tribes started banding together in what we call civilisation people have been sacrificing liberty in the name of law and order :) And why? Because people prefer safety in the majority. Who wants to raise their kid in an environment when your neighbour is "free" to murder them? Sure, it's an exaggerated example, but freedom is no freedom at all if others are then free to oppress.

There are two principles here: the right of free speech, and the assumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Free speech is well and good, but the assumption of innocence is faulty. Time after time we see the same violance and damage, and it's the same people organising these events across the world. We know that there's going to be trouble!

are places where merely planning a peaceful demonstration is an act of terrorism.

Heh, but we're not talking about a peaceful demonstration here are we?

[ Parent ]

Fascism is overhyped :) (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by ooch on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:17:56 PM EST

So basically what you are saying is that the police have the right to label a protest before it takes place as 'violent', and that it consequently should be forbidden? Do you really have that much confidence in the state and the police that you think they will not misuse that power, and that such a law would not in time turn into a instrument of oppression? Haven't you read Orwell's 1984?

No protest should be forbidden before it takes place. Only when a law is broken does the police have the right to react, not before that. When we as a society are willing to give up the freedom to let our voice be heard outside of elections, every other liberty will be lost before you can say 'exaggerated'.

[ Parent ]

Leave Orwell out of this (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by streetlawyer on Tue May 01, 2001 at 05:50:37 AM EST

<i>Do you really have that much confidence in the state and the police that you think they will not misuse that power, and that such a law would not in time turn into a instrument of oppression? Haven't you read Orwell's 1984?</i><p>You are perhaps referring to the big protest scene in 1984, which I don't remember all that many details about, because there isn't one. You're perfectly capable of making your point without bringing Orwell into this, so go ahead. It really saddens me when a specific book with a very subtle message gets turned into a crude symbol in this manner.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
What're you saying? (3.00 / 3) (#59)
by Eric Jonson on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:32:37 AM EST

Your subject seems to imply that civilisation is inherently fascist. That's quite a loaded term to use when talking about something which everyone apart from a few tree-huggers would agree is a good thing for mankind.

So basically what you are saying is that the police have the right to label a protest before it takes place as 'violent', and that it consequently should be forbidden?

No, I'm saying that if the police know a protest is going to be violent they shouldn't let it happen. A small, but important difference.

Do you really have that much confidence in the state and the police that you think they will not misuse that power, and that such a law would not in time turn into a instrument of oppression? Haven't you read Orwell's 1984?

Yes, I have read it. However, since we live in a democracy we as citizens can change things to ensure this doesn't happen. Only the truly paranoid believe 1984 is where we are headed.

[ Parent ]

i need ESP. (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by chopper on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:37:47 AM EST

No, I'm saying that if the police know a protest is going to be violent they shouldn't let it happen. A small, but important difference.

so what you're saying is, trust the police to decide if a protest should happen or not? ever heard of the constitution?

not to sound paranoid, but if it were up to the cops to decide whether or not a protest should be allowed because it might possibly be marred by some violent individuals, we wouldn't have any protests at all.

i've talked to police at protests. despite the fact that they're making overtime, they hate them. so do their superiors.

do you honestly believe that people would be able to assemble if the police were the ones making that decision?

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Liberty (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by B'Trey on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:34:52 PM EST

Sounds like you're a little confused about the definition of liberty. There is no "freedom to oppress." There is no "freedom to murder." There's certainly nothing wrong with an individual or a group taking reasonable precautions to prevent being victimized.

But reasonable precautions doesn't mean that you take away people's right to speak and demonstrate because something just might happen. Inciting a riot is a crime. If someone is guilty of it, then charge them with it.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by Eric Jonson on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:36:58 AM EST

Sounds like you're a little confused about the definition of liberty. There is no "freedom to oppress." There is no "freedom to murder." There's certainly nothing wrong with an individual or a group taking reasonable precautions to prevent being victimized.

You prove my point. In any society restrictions upon one person's freedom are absolutely necessary to have any kind of stable structure. Absolute freedom is a myth, and the only choice is between safety and liberty. And most people would prefer more of the latter because they judge is a higher priority than some principle that allows criminals to get away with the sort of violence that goes on at these events.

[ Parent ]

Uh (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by delmoi on Tue May 01, 2001 at 01:43:13 AM EST

A blockade is a crime. If their there, and they've been saying that they're going to make a blockade, then I think it's safe to assume that they are.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Looks like spiralx has an admirer... (2.20 / 5) (#21)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 01:29:32 PM EST

(Eric Jonson <==> Jon Ericson) ???

And in a topic on which spiralx himself has posted a
legitimate comment no less.... is there no shame?

Where do you suppose "Eric Jonson" will claim to work?
OPN Technologies?


john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

What are you talking about? (1.00 / 2) (#61)
by Eric Jonson on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:38:41 AM EST

I can see who spiralx is, but who is this Jon Ericson you're talking about? I've been asked that before, and I still don't know who this person is.

As for where I work, well it's not the technology sector, that's for sure.

[ Parent ]

wow! (3.66 / 3) (#35)
by Shren on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:10:31 PM EST

You mean I can shut up any group that I don't like by showing up at thier protest and causing violence? Wow! What a brilliant revelation! I *hope* that corporate powers and government forces don't catch on! Why, who knows what they'd do!

[ Parent ]

Get Away With It? (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by moshez on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:09:03 AM EST

The reason people "get away with it" is not thanks to any kindness in the police's heart, I can assure you that. The only reason these protests manage to find participants is that many people feel to have been wronged by the state. The police are, quite frankly, afraid of them. And they should be -- these are the people that will eventually rob the police out of the ability to enforce laws. Because enforcement is slavery, and slavery is an affront to humanity everywhere.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
Comment from Brisbane (3.54 / 11) (#3)
by fink on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:21:52 AM EST

I happen to work for a fairly well-known global company, which happens to have it's Australian headquarters in Brisbane. Lovely corporate citizen that I am... ~grin~

Anyway, turns out that there's a "scumbag list" floating around, and my employer may well be listed on it. Nuts to the whole issue of economical global transport and all the rest of it, they're apparently a Very Bad Company (tm).
Okay, time for the standard disclaimer: I'm biased, I happen to like where I work. I know, they also make weapons of war, and all the rest of it, but that's enough for a diary topic that I really should do up sometime.

Got a little bit of a "surprise" this afternoon, coming home from work. Our local stock exchange office is in a building called the Riverside building - and it's a target of these 7am blockades.
You know those portable crash-barriers, the ones that are filled with water once in place, that are often used at roadworks on freeways? Well, they've been put all around the building, in the doorways (even the rotating doors...), in the leftmost lane of the road, you name it. Only two entrances into the whole 40-something story building. And they'll have police.

"Peaceful" protest? We'll see I guess, but the track record of these people isn't brilliant, and the police don't seem to be taking any chances.


----

A bunch of people are planning to protest (1.44 / 9) (#5)
by Komodo321 on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:29:06 AM EST

and the police will be there.

Not enough meat - er, tofu in this.

"Moving the protesters on" (2.57 / 14) (#13)
by ksandstr on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:23:41 AM EST

The commonly used method of "moving people on" is first to shout (using a megaphone or two, skip this step if # of protestors exceeds 40) "move along, nothing to see here" or something to that effect. After that, it's time for the baton crew to move in, kicking, shoving and beating those who aren't goddamn fast enough to run away like the devil was on their heels. About two or three minutes after that you can bring in the water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray. (if the local farmers are cooperative, try to see if you can get some cow manure to spray on the rioters.) Don't forget to give statements about "peaceful police intervention" and "violent rioting scum" to the press.

If that sort of thing doesn't constitute provocation, I don't know what will.


--
Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

Well, yeah... (4.20 / 5) (#15)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:41:29 AM EST

No doubt, police tactics are meant to be excessive. Why? Because there are a LOT fewer of them than you. If they don't break you down, you might just overrun them, beat them down, take their weapons, and now, you've got a bunch of crunched up cops and armed protesters. When the protesters realize they're now guilty of assaulting the police, they start acting like idiots, shooting at cops and so on.

You can, of course, say it would never happen - but it HAS happened. That's why they have the procedures they have today. If you are going to use force(a blockade is force,) you have to be willing to accept the fact that someone may retaliate, and may take whatever means he deems necessary to protect himself in doing so. The story that didn't make the news when all those black people blocked a highway in St. Louis last year (other than that almost all the "protesters" were either homeless shelter people offered lunch or professionals,) was the number of motorists who were gathering down the road a half mile or so looking to move up the road and kick some peoples' asses in. Had the cops not busted that little "demonstration," it might have turned into a veritable orgy of violence. Think about it.

Not to say people shouldn't protest if that's what they want to do, but if you think you can sit there "peacefully" preventing people from going about their business and just get away with it, you're obviously either very stupid or very young.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Well, yeah... (4.75 / 4) (#30)
by ksandstr on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:37:36 PM EST

No doubt, police tactics are meant to be excessive. Why? Because there are a LOT fewer of them than you. If they don't break you down, you might just overrun them, beat them down, take their weapons, and now, you've got a bunch of crunched up cops and armed protesters. When the protesters realize they're now guilty of assaulting the police, they start acting like idiots, shooting at cops and so on.

I'm calling bullshit on that paragraph. The police may number less than the protestors (in city-wide totals, that is -- if you believe the media), but they have the tactical advantage (i.e. batons, shields, riot helmets, tear gas, handcuffs, general "nonlethal riot control" equipment) as well as the practically full personal indemnity brought by riot helmets partially designed to hide facial features. They're better coordinated as well. I'd like to say that I don't recall a recent (i.e. last 2 years) protest-turned-riot where the police haven't outnumbered the protesters, but I don't remember the relevant reporting well enough to claim that.

(of course, the best way to avoid arming protesters is not to bring lethal weapons into the protest at all. Which, in my opinion, is exactly how it should be.)

You can, of course, say it would never happen - but it HAS happened.

I don't remember any specific protests, but didn't this sort of thing happen more during the sixties when US cops used real, lethal bullets against unruly crowds? I can easily see how "cops shooting protesters for not moving along" would provoke extreme violence, but then again I might be wrong about the bullets. (Obviously cops were much stupider [less experienced as a whole, at the very least] back then.)

If you are going to use force(a blockade is force,) you have to be willing to accept the fact that someone may retaliate, and may take whatever means he deems necessary to protect himself in doing so.

You're forgetting that blocking entrances, not much unlike a sit-in, is an exercise of passive force. That's not even in the same ballpark as batons, tear gas and mass arrests.

What I'm saying is that this sort of first-option protest handling is WAY out of proportion to the discomfort caused to some businesses by the actual protests. In Finland, most of the recent riots (two or three of 'em during the last 3 years according to major news sources -- so I'm assuming 9-12 total) were sparked by police appearing on the scene and releasing the dogs into the crowd, so I wouldn't be surprised if any active physical violence was sparked by the police.

Not to say people shouldn't protest if that's what they want to do, but if you think you can sit there "peacefully" preventing people from going about their business and just get away with it, you're obviously either very stupid or very young.

What a fucking weird world it is that we're living in, where "money" and "business" are worth so much that it becomes worthwhile to break up protests by brute force rather than actually accepting any of the social responsibility that comes with money and power. (No, "we'd listen to them but they don't have one voice to bribe!" doesn't count.)

That's pretty much the same way the situation developed here in Finland -- during the time when Esko Aho was the prime minister, the government noticed that people were starting to organise and express their opinions in a non-sanctioned way (i.e. marches, demonstrations, etc). What did they do? Try to fix things? Noooo, can't be having that, we're supposed to be omniscient! (and besides, they're just STUPID PEOPLE, so we can ignore what they're saying.) Let's import the concept of riot police instead.


--
Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

[ Parent ]
Well, (3.66 / 3) (#36)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:27:54 PM EST

I don't know much about Finland, but in the US, a "protest" generally consists of a few professional protesters, a larger crowd of people who either just want to be part of a protest, were brought along by friends, or who were in some way bribed to be there(homeless people offered meals is a common one,) and a damned few people who are actually there on principle. In addition, the "protest" will draw a bunch of people who want nothing more than an excuse to riot, loot, and generally make asses of themselves. In general, the worst of the troublemakers has no qualms about attacking police, and will often do so on any available pretext, no matter how small or ludicrous. I do not mean to beliittle the "serious" protesters, but they're usually vastly outnumbered by lamers of various sorts, and the cops do not have magical "find out who's for real" secret decoder rings, so they can't pick and choose.

In that environment, violence is guaranteed - the only question is, who suffers it - the protesters, the police, and/or the (relatively) innocent bystanders? It's like going to a college party and then bitching because people are drinking despite the "dry campus" policy; sure, you could have a party with no booze, but did you really think that was going to happen?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Amount of protesters (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by MostlyHarmless on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:21:04 PM EST

I take issue with your description of the make-up of the protesters. In fact, I'd wager that the proportions are the exact opposite. I'll use Quebec as an example, but it should hold the same for Seattle and elsewhere.

Quebec attracted around 30,000 people, depending on who you ask. Most of those were in a large and peaceful parade that made its way through the streets. It's true that there was some violence that occured along the "wall of shame" separating the demonstrators from the business leaders. The amount of people involved in this was substantially less, and limited to the more radical groups (I don't know if a black bloc was present there or not). Of course, there are always people just looking for an excuse to riot; however, the fact that you assumed these people to be a majority demonstrates quite well why the modern media's news reports should be taken with a large grain of salt.
--
"Nevertheless, that is the theorem." - Tom Stoppard
[ Parent ]
institutional privilege (none / 0) (#85)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 02, 2001 at 07:15:44 AM EST

The police may number less than the protestors (in city-wide totals, that is -- if you believe the media), but they have the tactical advantage (i.e. batons, shields, riot helmets, tear gas, handcuffs, general "nonlethal riot control" equipment) as well as the practically full personal indemnity brought by riot helmets partially designed to hide facial features.

And these is just the material part of the advantage. They also command a huge amount of institutional advantages: the state legitimizes their violence and seriously deligitimizes the acts of the protestors; there are few checks on the police's use of force, and those that are in place are very biased towards the police and thus ineffectual (e.g., complaints of police abuse are typically investigated by the police department itself); this results in a culture of impunity, where officers feel they can get away with plenty of illegal behavior; the ideological view of the world that the police culture pushes onto its members; and so on.

I'd like to say that I don't recall a recent (i.e. last 2 years) protest-turned-riot where the police haven't outnumbered the protesters, but I don't remember the relevant reporting well enough to claim that.

The number of reports of numerically superior riot squads charging crowds is indeed ample. The mainstream press in the US just never goes into the details about what actually happens in protests, preferring to go to the PD chief's press conference where he praises his forces for showing "restraint". ("I am proud of my forces for not killing them all." When that is presented as an "achievement", what does it tell you about police culture?)

One of the deadliest things that can happen in a protest is a crowd blocking an entrance getting charged by a riot squad, with no escape avenue for the protesters, who are just beaten up savagely in a corner. I have friends who have seen such incidents in person, and I have seen video footage of one: a group of 10-15 striking workers (in strike because the government decides that it wants to sell its most profitable corporation dirt cheap in a losing deal to a big multinational company, in a completely closed process) blocks the entrance to their workplace, and 20-25 riot police attack in close formation. Seconds later, the police are dragging out of the entrance a injured man with blood all over his head (which can *kill* an injured person!), who nearly dies in the hospital that morning.

--em
[ Parent ]

errrrg! (none / 0) (#76)
by sopwath on Tue May 01, 2001 at 09:14:34 PM EST

God damnit! I had to log in, find the story, and wade through umpteen comments to get back to this... Just to tell you what an idiot you are.

Do you honestly think all COPS are evil bastards just looking for some tree-huggin'-hippies to beat on? Honestly now, though there may be a few individuals who are on a power trip, but most are hard wrking individuals who just want to help 'the people.'

Yes, part of riot control does involve getting everyone in some armor, yeilding shields and batons, etc... How many times have you seen COPS (or an army) just lunge at thier target? Umm, never! Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a large force of men, carrying all that gear, running in a tight safe formation? Maybe with several months of military style training, but that's smething the general police forces don't have. Why would they jeopardise thier own saftey? How many times have you heard of those riot control formations just opening fire and killing everyone in sight. (I think there might have been one around the turn of the century involving some Irish steel workiers)

BTW anytime I've seen that type of police action was against large violent protests. I have seen the same types of formations separating KKK marches from BlackPanther marches too, not in person though. (gee, doubt anything would happen there)


What is the point of protesting if the only message you get out is that a bunch of violent idiots got together and busted up the joint?





sopwath

Graduation, Sleep, Life: Pick Two
[ Parent ]
They are not irrational, they are professional (none / 0) (#80)
by pavlos on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:13:25 PM EST

You reason along the lines that: The police are surely not irrationally violent, so they must be acting properly and only in defense.

I agree that the police are generally not mad people looking for a fight. A few may be, but then the same might be true of the protesters. However, this does not make police behaviour good.

The police are there to beat, scare, and generally intimidate the protesters so that people in general do not protest about things. This they do in a very professional manner by beating people over the head with batons, crushing them, using toxic gases, and sending dogs into them.

So no, they are not irrational, but yes, they do "lunge" at their targets. In the west they have stopped opening fire in about 1900, but elsewhere they still do, killing a few unlucky people at a time.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

the culture of the riot squad (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 02, 2001 at 06:45:13 AM EST

Do you honestly think all COPS are evil bastards just looking for some tree-huggin'-hippies to beat on?

How many riot squad members have you met? What kind of person do you think desires to be part of a professionally trained "crowd control" squadron? What kind of person advances to leadership positions within those units? What criteria do they use to admit people to the unit?

In my experience, a large number of cops in riot squads enjoy gratuituously beating up unarmed people with impunity. Also, they typically compensate for the nature of their job by rationalizing the reasons for their violence-- in their minds, the victims deserve the beating.

Note I didn't talk about cops in general, but about riot squad members, which are just the meanest cops.

Honestly now, though there may be a few individuals who are on a power trip, but most are hard wrking individuals who just want to help 'the people.'

I think this statement tells a lot about who you are. We can guess to a high degree of confidence (although not perfectly) your skin color, socioeconomic background, part of town where you live, and pretty much anything that correlates well to being mid-middle class and higher.

--em
[ Parent ]

This is so untrue (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by dcodea on Wed May 02, 2001 at 07:49:49 AM EST

That I just had to respond. I just spent most of tuesday trapped in one police cordon or another, surrounded by police in riot gear, and I can say without any reservation of any sort that the police who were in the front lines were not at all aggressive, violent, or out of line.

These police stood for hours on end, shoulder to shoulder, and were not at all cruel or violent. There was not a single officer all day who wouldn't talk to me when I was just chatting; When people walked up to theming hurling verbal abuse, they didn't react at all. at all. When people threw bottles at them, they protect themselves and tried to move the crowd back. At no point did they wade into the crowd and try to dish out beatings; they moved together in big lines, no opportunity for an individual cop to break ranks and try to beat anyone. I personally only got hit with a baton once, and it was when 8 cops isolated in a violent crowd were being rescued. There were a significant number of women in riot gear, as well, and on the whole the cops were nice, regular people. As they let us out of the cordon, one cop was saying to everyone "Thanks for your time, Same time next year, yeah? Cheers, everyone." They were just dealing with an uncertain situation as best as could possibly be expected, with all the humanity you could hope for.

Who Dares Wins
[ Parent ]

Whoa (2.66 / 15) (#14)
by Lelon on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:30:46 AM EST

Its pretty clear from the poll results that most of you have never seen a protest. Any violence is almost always caused by the police and their lack of training in dealing with these kind of situations. <see cincinati last week>


----
This sig is a work in progress.
Always? (3.87 / 8) (#16)
by dcodea on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:43:27 AM EST

While it is true that I have never seen a protest, I wonder how you can make such a blanket statement. I mean, I'll agree that police are definately capable of starting violence, and indeed that they are more likely to do so than most protestors, but I think that the protestors themselves are often just as capable as starting violence.

The protestors believe much more strongly in their cause than the police do; I think the amount of vitriol and hate is often stronger on the protest side. Most police officers have some compunction about the violence they inflict, while protestors 'dehumanize' the police to a much greater extent, and have no qualms being violent towards them.

Again, I haven't been in a protest myself. I'll let you know how it goes tuesday, and we'll see if I'm completely wrong.

Who Dares Wins
[ Parent ]

Dehumanization (2.75 / 4) (#31)
by ksandstr on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:41:19 PM EST

In my opinion, most of the dehumanization is done by the amplified, metallic "MOVE ALONG,DAMMIT" command and the riot gear. If the police showed their faces instead of a haughty riot helmet, the situation wouldn't be the same at all.


--
Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

[ Parent ]
Sure (none / 0) (#45)
by physicsgod on Tue May 01, 2001 at 12:32:53 AM EST

I'm certain that once a mob has beaten in the head of one or two cops they'll realize they've killed a human being, become ashamed of themselves, and resume the peaceful protest.


--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 11) (#17)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:19:37 PM EST

I'm sure it is the cops fault that looters took advantage of the situation there to steal stuff out of storefronts and the cops tried to stop them. Yes, there was inappropriate police violence - but the majority of the cops got it right; you only hear about the ones who fucked up. Most of the time, they did things like keep some stupid assmunch from running off with a TV set, or keep gangs of roving racist thugs from beating up some old white lady while screaming about injustice, or whatever. They do this despite being vastly outnumbered, occasionally outgunned, and despite the fact that they probably never thought of riot duty when they signed up to be cops - that's right, they don't want to be there.

But hey, since there were pictures of cops next to scary headlines, they must ALL be assholes who shoot kids for no resaon. That makes more sense... yeah, ALL the violence is their fault. Nobody can blame people for assaulting them, because a few of them did something bad over on the other side of town earlier today! They're EVIL!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
i don't know about always... (3.80 / 5) (#18)
by chopper on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:59:11 PM EST

but mostly, i'd agree that overzealousness on the part of the police is the cause of most protest violence. i mean, they are the ones with the truncheons and tear gas, after all.

although some violent shit has gone down at the protests i've been in (at the A16 WB/IMF protests last year an AP photographer got beaten so severely by the police the protestors had to form a human ring around him), i haven't seen anything really bad, mostly unnecessary teargassing and pepperspraying.

and all of the stuff i did see was police being, well... police.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Were this the US (3.33 / 3) (#20)
by weirdling on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 01:17:11 PM EST

Blockading the entrance to anything is a crime in the US. This happened in Seattle a while ago when the World Bank was in town, iirc. The protesters blockaded the entrance, got dispersed, then chased and arrested, and felt that when they ran they'd be left alone, but they were now criminals since they blockaded the entrance.
In the US, you can't a) stop traffic, b) harrass passers-by, or c) deny entrance or exit to any building. Violate these, and you should go to jail.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Err... (3.25 / 4) (#32)
by ksandstr on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:45:11 PM EST

How come, then, almost no charges were pressed against the $BIGNUM arrested people? Criminals, indeedy. It would appear that the police have been given the immediate right to punish (i.e. a beating with a baton, pepper spray inna face and jail for a couple of days [without access to medication or indeed the single phone call provided by US law]) in "exceptional conditions".


--
Somebody has to set Imperial America up the bomb.

[ Parent ]
No right to a phone call (1.00 / 1) (#66)
by MrSpey on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:42:43 AM EST

You have no right to a phone call in the U.S. Really. TV and movies have basically just made that up. You get an attorney who can do things like make phone calls for you, but you have no right to communicate with the outside world at all.

Mr. Spey
Cover your butt. Bernard is watching.

[ Parent ]
OH (2.80 / 5) (#29)
by finkployd on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 03:55:11 PM EST

Sure, beating random white women and looting stores is the police's fault. It all makes sense now.

Appearently looting and random violent beatings are acceptable expressions of disappointment with the system today. And in a similar thread the reasons for private citizens owning guns is being discussed, ah the irony.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
justifyably pissed (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by Shren on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:07:31 PM EST

In the middle of a rally early in the protests, a bunch of city and state police officers pulled up and fired bean bags from shotguns at range, hitting several people. They then jumped back in thier cars and drove away.

That's not any training book, unless it's the "How to agitate angry people so they will do things that cause bad press" book.

[ Parent ]

Which explains (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by finkployd on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:46:09 PM EST

When angry at the tactics of police I suppose I too would attempt to make the best of the situation by looting and beating (or perhaps killing, that will show those police) random, innocent, and preferably helpless other people.

Of course, If I were to come upon someone beating my girlfriend, or looting my house (while I'm in it) I would not give pause to consider the justifible rage they could perhaps feel. I will remove them from the food chain in a perfectly justifible and legal method. Being pissed at the police doesn't give me the right to assualt black women right?

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
well, the serious problem is... (none / 0) (#70)
by Shren on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:05:51 PM EST

Of course, If I were to come upon someone beating my girlfriend, or looting my house (while I'm in it) I would not give pause to consider the justifible rage they could perhaps feel. I will remove them from the food chain in a perfectly justifible and legal method. Being pissed at the police doesn't give me the right to assualt black women right?

I fully agree.

In my perception, however, people are getting fed up with the "I thought he was reaching for a gun" excuse for people getting gunned down by police officers. Can someone shoot a police officer because "I thought he was going to shoot me then say I was reaching for a gun?"

[ Parent ]

the problem is... (none / 0) (#64)
by chopper on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:30:10 AM EST

we're talking about two different things here: protests and riots.

in an earlier post i agreed with the assertion that police are the root of most of the violence that happens in protests. and i still believe that.

rioting, on the other hand, is different.

for example, at the A16 or RNC protests, the protestors were not "beating random white women" or looting stores, as far as i saw.

now, it is true, that a few people come around and mess up shit, as a small group in Seattle proved. but they were not really a part of the actual protest. overall, in such cases, problems originate at the police level.

OTOH, take the recent clash in Cinti. although the looters/rioters/random attackers were out for a purpose (they were pissed), i wouldn't call that a protest. protesters march, they wave signs, they chant, they peacably assemble. they protest.

looting and rioting are different things altogether.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Protest Violence (3.50 / 8) (#25)
by Pink Daisy on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:19:31 PM EST

I recall two lawsuits regarding the fence around the Quebec City summit.

First was a group of protestors trying to get it declared unconstitutional because it impedes their free speech.

Second was a group of businesses located just outside the fence trying to have it extended because they were scared stiff of being vandalized and looted.

Both lost, of course, but looking at news reports, while most of the protests were peaceful, there was a lot of violence, and there was significant damage to the area just outside the fence.

Unconstitutional (3.42 / 7) (#28)
by paulT on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 03:24:32 PM EST

First was a group of protestors trying to get it declared unconstitutional because it impedes their free speech.

Notably the judge agreed the fence was unconstitutional but said it's use was justified and therefor let it stand.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Void where prohibited by law.

[ Parent ]
Protesters and their behavior (3.93 / 15) (#26)
by dyskordus on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:30:39 PM EST

These protesters are shooting themselves in the foot. Blocking the enterances to buildings, snarling traffic, and running around smashing things will not win them any sympathy.

Most people will not care about the reason for the protests. They will simply feel that the fucking (communists/environmentalists/anarchists/vegans) (made them late for work/trashed their business/dumped paint on their coat), and be glad the police beat the shit out of them.

If these people want to actually get anything changed they need to find ways of informing people about what they're against and why they're against it, without aggrivating the very people who need to hear their message.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.

Public Perception (2.50 / 2) (#48)
by AnonyMike on Tue May 01, 2001 at 03:07:47 AM EST

Does anyone know of any data indicating what the general public attitude is towards protests of this type (Anti-Capitalism, Anti-Globalization, Anit-Etc.)?

I suspect that sympathy levels are alot higher than most would anticipate. And rising.

Or maybe that's wishful thinking.


Hit me. You can't hurt me.


[ Parent ]
no hard and fast data (none / 0) (#54)
by enterfornone on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:14:51 AM EST

Although the fact that virtually no one (in Australia) votes for any of the many socialist parties (most of whom are involved in this protest) gives you a good idea of how many supporters they have.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
thats a ratio lower than... (none / 0) (#77)
by sopwath on Tue May 01, 2001 at 09:30:56 PM EST

5000 people out of... [insert population of Sydney here]

That's not even acurate, considering there's bound to be a number of 'proffessional protester' there who aren't all from Sydney.


sopwath
Graduation, Sleep, Life: Pick Two
[ Parent ]
Which People Did They Aggravate? (3.50 / 4) (#51)
by moshez on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:03:59 AM EST

Surely not the people *working* there -- these people just got a day off. They *did* aggravate the capitalist lords, who were cheated out of one day in making money off work done by others. The capitalist lords should be mad. The workers should be happy -- and tell themselves "hey...I didn't sell my soul this day and they sky had not fallen. Maybe I should help my fellow workers realize this?".

This is why true anarchists do not believe in violence -- it is wrong to dump paint on an innocent's car -- this denies him the freedom to drive his car. However, dumping paint on a company car is all right -- and again, will only *really* aggravate the capitlist lords.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#55)
by enterfornone on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:16:24 AM EST

Working for a living is selling your soul. So who pays for your welfare in your socialist utopia?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Not Working For a Living (none / 0) (#56)
by moshez on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:36:31 AM EST

Working for a capitalist lord is selling your soul. And guess what -- capitalism is built so it is *very* hard to be self-employed.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
bwahahaha (none / 0) (#63)
by enterfornone on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:36:38 AM EST

as opposed to communism where being self employed is impossible

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
re: bwahahaha (none / 0) (#72)
by dyskordus on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:26:12 PM EST

Don't forget that back in the good ol' USSR a physician was paid as much as a factory worker. What a reward for all that schooling. Maybe capitalism isn't so bad afterall.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
[ Parent ]

Communism? (none / 0) (#90)
by moshez on Thu May 03, 2001 at 05:17:08 AM EST

A lot of systems make it hard/impossible to be self employed. Unlike capitalism, most of them are at least honest about it.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
Who is being aggravated (none / 0) (#73)
by dyskordus on Tue May 01, 2001 at 05:28:10 PM EST

Surely not the people *working* there -- these people just got a day off.

Yes, they did get a day off. A day off that cost some of them a day's pay. A day off that cost others vacation time. A day off that resulted in staying late at work to meet a deadline. Sounds mighty aggravating doesn't it?

They *did* aggravate the capitalist lords, who were cheated out of one day in making money off work done by others.

Others who voluntarily do that work for them, and are compensated with money, and often health insurance and education at little to no cost.

The workers should be happy -- and tell themselves "hey...I didn't sell my soul this day and they sky had not fallen.

If you work for a living, or live off money you have saved you are pulling your own weight. This is not selling your soul, it is taking responsibility for feeding, clothing, and sheltering yourself. If you do not pull your own weight and are not sitting outside naked starving to death, someone else is pulling it for you. Unless you are physically or mentally disabled, there is no excuse for that.

This is why true anarchists do not believe in violence -- it is wrong to dump paint on an innocent's car -- this denies him the freedom to drive his car. However, dumping paint on a company car is all right -- and again, will only *really* aggravate the capitlist lords

If corporations are so evil, quit using their products. Get rid of any electronics (including your computer) you own, and any vehicles (including bicycles, companies make them too) you drive. If the building you live in was made by a construction company, move out. Only wear clothing made by the person who sells it.

Or you could just realize that capitalism is not perfect, but better than anything else that came along. Communism failed because if you are only going to receive according to need, there is no reason to try to produce more. Capitalism works because in order to receive at all, you have to produce (by either work or financial investment). Anarchism would not work because it expects too much of people. In a world without a state and the services that accompany it the strong have no reason not to prey upon the weak.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
[ Parent ]

Responsibility vs. respect (none / 0) (#79)
by blixco on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:08:55 PM EST

In a world without a state and the services that accompany it the strong have no reason not to prey upon the weak.
In this world, the current system, the corporations, the governments prey on the weak. I resist their rule because of their agenda: to use me and my community up with no regard for rights, civility, health, or environment. What happens when your workers can get to work? What are they working towards? What do they gain? What is their life worth?

Getting paid to work isn't selling your soul. Getting paid to compromise humankind is. Getting paid to ignore the ramifications of, say, a sweatshop owned and run by your company is. Getting paid to create false desire for goods and services no one needs or wants, is selling your soul. It's not about working for a living. Anarchists don't propose sitting around. Take care of yourself, your community, your neighbors. How tough is that? Pretty tough when 90 percent of your income is to pay off credit card debts for the Nikes, the Toshiba, the Playstation, the VW, the martini lunches, the suit and tie....all created by the corporations you so violently defend. What good do they do? What do they create? Desire. They live to make us feel inadequate and disappointed. They create greed, distaste, and envy. They assure that all culture will become one McCulture. In the modern corporation, laws don't count. Workers don't count. It's not about evil vs.good.

It's not about money. It's not about goods and products. Respect for life is the key here. You show me one single corporation that respects human life over profits, and I'll call you a liar to your face.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

RE:Responsibility vs. respect (none / 0) (#81)
by dyskordus on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:52:21 PM EST

In this world, the current system, the corporations, the governments prey on the weak. I resist their rule because of their agenda: to use me and my community up with no regard for rights, civility, health, or environment.

This is exactly why we have governments. Instead of milling around smashing shit and blocking off traffic, maybe you and your friends should try writing their representatives, or holding a collection and hiring a few lobbyists to get your point across. If a politican is doing something you don't like, make a stink about it before the next election.

What happens when your workers can get to work? What are they working towards? What do they gain? What is their life worth?

Why is it your concern what other people do with their lives? Unless you are coming into direct conflict (someone trying to steal your wallet) with what someone is doing, or what they are doing is a hazard to your life (drinking and driving), let people do what they will to themselves.

Getting paid to work isn't selling your soul. Getting paid to compromise humankind is. Getting paid to ignore the ramifications of, say, a sweatshop owned and run by your company is.

If people don't like what their employers are doing, they should find work elsewhere. Maybe they could write a letter to newspapers, and tv or radio stations as well.

Anarchists don't propose sitting around. Take care of yourself, your community, your neighbors. How tough is that? Pretty tough when 90 percent of your income is to pay off credit card debts for the Nikes, the Toshiba, the Playstation, the VW, the martini lunches, the suit and tie....all created by the corporations you so violently defend. What good do they do? What do they create? Desire. They live to make us feel inadequate and disappointed. They create greed, distaste, and envy.

Nothing new here. Gullible people have been manipulated since people figured out how to do it. The only difference is people are being duped into buying instead of obeying.

You show me one single corporation that respects human life over profits, and I'll call you a liar to your face.

So if I show you what you ask me to you will call me a liar? I don't exactly understand that statement. Please rephrase it.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
[ Parent ]

Quick answers (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by blixco on Wed May 02, 2001 at 06:46:00 AM EST

Writing congressmen, etc: this doesn't work. I don't have twenty million dollars to give over to their favorite pet project, or to them. I'm not a visible entity. Money buys politics in this country. Or had you not noticed?

Concern for others: I live in my community. I am concerned *with* my neighbors, not *against* them. In other words, I help my neighbors, they help me. The community ends up being a much nicer place. Letting people do what they will is precisely what you are arguing against, by the way. Or did you not know that?

If people could find work elsewhere, I'm sure they would. Why do people in this country work in mines, or for sweatshops? It's certainly not because they "enjoy" the work, is it?

Gullible people being manipulated: thanks for being a prime example.

Show me a corporation that respects human life over profits: there isn't one. Thus, if you give me an example, you're lying.

Conclusion: you buy it, hook line an sinker. Every system needs a victim. You've got that written all over you. I don't think this is going to go anywhere, discussion-wise, simply because you're unaware. And keep in mind, when you say that capitalism is the way to go (over, say, communism): where does democracy enter into this? What the different international organizations are proposing is self-rule, with no country's laws or environmental concerns to get in the way. What does this tell you? These corporations are their own governments. Look at their rulings. In 100 percent of the cases brought to the WTO concerning local environmental restrictions in different locales, they voted *against* those laws, claiming they are a hinderance to capitalism, and claiming that they will ignore those laws. And there's *nothing* you can do about it. At all. Congress vs. Exxon? Who wins? Exxon.

You don't have to believe me or any of the hundred million voices saying this. I'm perfectly OK with that. You *should* realize the truth, but you won't, and that's fine.

I'm thinking, these days, that discussions about capitalism are a lot like discussions about abortion. There's just no way to have one.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

Re: Quick Answers (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by dyskordus on Wed May 02, 2001 at 05:32:02 PM EST

Writing congressmen, etc: this doesn't work. I don't have twenty million dollars to give over to their favorite pet project, or to them. I'm not a visible entity. Money buys politics in this country. Or had you not noticed?

One person alone writing a letter will not do any good. Letters from large groups of voters in the congressman's district stating how they feel and how to win/keep their votes will be noticed. If BigBad, Inc takes Congressman Bedfellow on an all expenses paid golf weekend shortly before an important vote, don't vote for him. Donate money, or if you're short on money, time, to his opponet in the next election.

Concern for others: I live in my community. I am concerned *with* my neighbors, not *against* them. In other words, I help my neighbors, they help me. The community ends up being a much nicer place. Letting people do what they will is precisely what you are arguing against, by the way. Or did you not know that?

I am arguing against interfering with people's behavior when they aren't hurting you. I don't block the enterances to churches to prevent people from rotting their minds. I don't vandalize Car Toys for welling subwoofers that rattle my windows on every odd Tuesday.

If people could find work elsewhere, I'm sure they would. Why do people in this country work in mines, or for sweatshops? It's certainly not because they "enjoy" the work, is it?

In a post-industrial nation like the US it is lack of education and skills. You'd be surprised to see how many of those people are highschool dropouts.

Conclusion: you buy it, hook line an sinker. Every system needs a victim. You've got that written all over you.

Yes, I'm quite the victim. My parents are poor, my mom is a human doormat and my dad is a drunk. Instead of whining about how unfair life is I went and grabbed a piece of the pie myself. I'm twenty, married, own the house I live in, and won't have to work anymore by the time I'm 50 (expecting to live roughly 100 years).

And keep in mind, when you say that capitalism is the way to go (over, say, communism): where does democracy enter into this? What the different international organizations are proposing is self-rule, with no country's laws or environmental concerns to get in the way. What does this tell you? These corporations are their own governments. Look at their rulings. In 100 percent of the cases brought to the WTO concerning local environmental restrictions in different locales, they voted *against* those laws, claiming they are a hinderance to capitalism, and claiming that they will ignore those laws. And there's *nothing* you can do about it. At all.

This is a law enforcement issue. Having executives arrested and leins agains your property for failing to pay fines is very bad for business.

Congress vs. Exxon? Who wins? Exxon.

In a country where less than 50% of those eligable actually bother to vote you wonder why most people don't like what congress is doing!? Maybe if more people actually bothered to vote instead of whining about how lousy congress is things would be a bit different.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
[ Parent ]

Right then. (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by blixco on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:36:28 AM EST

We definitely come from two different worlds. I do make an effort to understand the thinkings of middle and right america, so any discussion like this is helpful. I disagree with you about everything you said here (except the bit about your parents, since that's factual and not opinion, I assume), but I'm understanding of your position, and realize that not only is it warranted, it's necessary.

Ultimately (and I've said this before), it's important to realize that it takes all kinds. Change won't occur using just one tactic. I've done everything from write congressmen to voting to direct action to you name it. It's all parts of the same puzzle.

As I've said in the past, all I want for myself and my community is that whole Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness thing. We've not lived up to that promise yet.

So while I violently disagree with you, I am not so myopic as to blind myself to certain realities; change will occur, but it will take effort from every camp.

Anyhow. Thanks for the discussion thread. It was fun.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

been nice talking with you (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by dyskordus on Thu May 03, 2001 at 10:42:51 AM EST

It is nice to see that two people who disagree about a subject as much as the both of us can discuss it without resorting to "you stupid shit".
"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
[ Parent ]
priorities? (2.00 / 10) (#33)
by Shren on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:04:43 PM EST

The entire continent of Austrailia is in the process of completely disarming it's populace so they have no choice but to follow where the government is leading, even if Hitler's reincarnation is elected head of state. You'd think that they might have some perspective in what to protest over.

But that's just my opinion.

Too many people. (2.00 / 3) (#39)
by rawg on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:14:50 PM EST

It all boils down to one thing: Too many people on this planet. Everything would be great if it was not for all the damm people getting in the way.

What's with the naming scheme? (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by Luke Francl on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:19:03 PM EST

What's with the naming scheme for these protests? The protesters name them after the first letter of the month and the day of the month. N30 (Seattle), A16 (Washington DC), M1. What gives? Can anyone tell me why?

Maybe its just because I'm a programmer, but this naming scheme seems to have obvious namespace conflicts...

Stupid abbreviation tricks (none / 0) (#75)
by Robert Hutchinson on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:53:40 PM EST

What's with the naming scheme for these protests? The protesters name them after the first letter of the month and the day of the month.
Oh, is that what it is? I was wondering why an anti-capitalism protest was named after a shorthand term for the money supply. This is conveniently timed, though--the environmentalists among them will have plenty of time to get ready for October 3rd.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

You've been watching too much tv (4.25 / 4) (#41)
by willie on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:38:53 PM EST

I was one of the many who protested at S11, and this is the typical opinion that the media wants to portray. The violence that occurs at protests like these are because of 'professional protesters', who like making things hard for everyone else. They don't care about the message to be given, or about the reason they're protesting. All they care about is messing with the police and having fun. And of course the media will show some nice clashes with police before some people peacefully protesting. There's no news there.

I would say that 95% of the protesters at S11 were peaceful, but this was ruined by the minority. It's sad. There's really no good way to get the message across. When all people see is violence it takes away from the cause.

TV (none / 0) (#44)
by enterfornone on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:50:42 PM EST

I really don't watch TV much at all. At the time of S11 I got most of my news from JJJ (since that was what was on in my workplace and my net connection was crap). After S11 most of the news was focused on the nice protesters and the evil police.

The fact is, with S11 and with M1, the primary purpose what to stop people gaining access to the building (the Casino at S11, the Stock Exchange here). It wasn't a few that were doing this, it was the intention of the protest organisers.

Blockades cannot be peaceful.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]

i can think for myself (none / 0) (#67)
by pallex on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:14:09 AM EST

so i know the police like to wind people up and cause trouble sometimes.

Having said that, its hard to have sympathy with people with such a clueless agenda. I think people should target something a little more specific than `capitalism`, for christs sake. How about just a car protest, or just a green protest or...

The people watching/reading about this protest, who bother to ignore the orchestrated violence aspect, and want to find out if there is any intelligence at the centre of this, rather than just unemployed under 30 year olds (plus the inevitable 60`s casualties) are going to have their work cut out for them!

Its sad, as i agree with some of the issue they claim to be concerned with. But i`ve long ago given up the idea that a modern demonstration is of any use. The idea used to be turning up and making a lot of noise and shocking people, forcing them to think about the issues.
Nowadays they are all planned beforehand, with the police, to cause minimum disruption. The end result is you can be in the next street and be unaware of what is going on.
And these internet organized `illegal` ones will always be cracked down on hard by the police, so unless you want the shit kicked out of you/a criminal record (admittedly not a problem for people who are a stranger to earning money), i`d stay away from them!

"Look here - 1967 - drug crazed youth discover vagrancy as a way of life" - Frank Zappa.


[ Parent ]
So tell them! (none / 0) (#68)
by Otter on Tue May 01, 2001 at 12:19:17 PM EST

I don't know what "S11" is but I was in the area for the recent Quebec City rampage as well as for the 2000 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Quebec seemed to be pretty much all people there with the intention of participating in a riot. LA, on the other hand, was mostly sincere, thoughtful activists there to lobby for their agenda. The people I met were complaining that there was no media coverage of their protesting and that the police were keeping them far away from the delegates. Just like you're saying.

Well, here's what I say: Blame them! If a bunch of idiots engaging in choreographed, mediagenic violence gets in the way of making a point you take seriously, make it clear to them and the public that you find that reprehensible. I just don't see any willingness among "peaceful protesters" to stand up for the order that makes free speech possible.

[ Parent ]

Brisbane M1 protest is over... (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by bigdan on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:49:01 PM EST

Well, it's about 13:30 here and the protest in Brisbane looks to be over. The road blocks are gone, most of the police are gone and from that I infer that all the protesters have gone home.

Slackers.

Protesters these days have no stamina. Why, back in *my* day, protests could last for *days*. This lot can't even make it much past lunch.

They're just resting... (none / 0) (#46)
by physicsgod on Tue May 01, 2001 at 12:36:12 AM EST

Or maybe they're pining for the fjords. ;)

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
A few questionable assumptions (5.00 / 3) (#74)
by johnny on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:24:13 PM EST

"When the police attempt to use their powers to bring the violent few into line. . ."

You seem to assume that the police only act once provoked by violent acts, and that they act legally, that is using "powers" granted them by law. These are both *extremely* suspect assumptions.

It is silly to say that these recent protests are simply "anti-capitalism". What they are about, it seems to me, is the undemocratic undertaking to change the rules by which the game of capitalism is played. The web page you link to is a call to action against "corporate tyrany", which is not the same thing as capitalism. The transnational capitalism of today is a far cry from the capitalism of Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations (not The Wealth of Transnational Corporations). Adam Smith, in fact, warned against granting too much power to corporations, which were, in his day, strictly national entities. The corporations of today are incalcuably more powerful than those of Smith's day, and they are taking steps to become more powerful still. That's what all the fuss is about. It's not hard for me to imagine that were he alive today, Adam Smith, the patron saint of capitalism, would be inthe streets with the protesters.

The proposed New World Order of unelected "free trade compliance bodies" who meet in secret, publish no minutes, accept no direct public particiaption, is widely, and I think correctly, pecieved as a stealth attack on democracy itself. Under the current rules, citizens of the United States, Austraila, Canada, Britain, have some say in the formulation of laws regarding labor, the environment, health, wages, and so forth. The proposed order is an attempt to disenfranchise, to arrogate the authority to regulate such matters to a tiny, tiny few; further, to a few who can be counted on to decide matters in a way that consistently increases the power of the powerful.

It is the very stricture of democratic process relative to how we define capitalism that is drawing the people into the streets. So while you may trivialize the protesters by saying that they are naively "anti-capitalist", they are in fact not so easily bamboozled. You cannot say somebody is "anti-capitalist" when you are at the same time actively working to change the very definition of capitalism. This is called "bait and switch", a sucker's con, and it's not going over too well with a certain segment of the populace.

In the United States of America, people are supposed to have, according to our constitution, the rights "peaceably to assemble" and to "petition the government for redress of greivances."

The first of these rights has effectively been eliminated since Seattle. If you have an open mind, investigate police behavior at the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, and at the World Bank protests in Washington DC. There hundreds of people, (including dozens of tourists and a few diplomats) were detained without arrest, or arrested on charges that the police knew were false. This is a euphemism for kidnapping.

The police watchword has become "NO MORE SEATTLES," and police have demonstrated that they won't let the law, or the constitution, stand in their way of preventing more Seattles. As an church-going, non-radical, PTO-member, served-my-country patriotic old fart, I tell you that I live in a police state, at least when it comes to this provision of the constitution. It is gone. Oblliterated. (Remind me to put in my diary what happend to me at the Boston Bush-Gore debate. I thought I was in Belgrade.)

The world "free trade" movement is an attempt to redefine government, in such a way that there is no right of the people "to petition for the redress of greivances."

But in the United States long ago people took to the streets, and took up weapons, to ensure these very rights. Over hundreds of years people have given their lives in the name of these rights (among other rights, to be sure). The argument in the streets is not (only) about "Captitalism." It's about the rights of democratic people to govern themselves. People are willing to fight over these things.

You may say, "but 99 out of 100 people don't care that they're ceding their rights." Well, so be it. It has often been the vigilent few who have protected the rights of the many. And often people, lulled by the promise of greater creature comforts, have given themselves over to tryany.

I'm not a street protester and I know that there are some ill-informed people among them, and people with half-baked ideas. I know that there are violent people, and "revolution for the hell of it" people there too. But there are deeper things going on, and I predict that the protests will not stop for a long time to come.

yr frn

jrs



yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.

Adam Smith (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by tjb on Tue May 01, 2001 at 09:58:31 PM EST

"The transnational capitalism of today is a far cry from the capitalism of Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations (not The Wealth of Transnational Corporations). Adam Smith, in fact, warned against granting too much power to corporations, which were, in his day, strictly national entities."

Umm, no. Multinationals are not new. New to capitalism, maybe, but under British mercantilism there were corporations there were corporations that make GE and Microsoft and Merck seem like Mom & Pop operations. Every hear of the Hudson Bay Company? Or the British East India Company, which I would venture to say wielded incalculably more power than the sum total of all modern transnationals? In fact, companies like these basically defined mercantilism as a practical matter.

On the other hand, while I generally agree with the outcome of these free-trade meetings (free trade across the board is the path to true wealth for everyone), I do wish they weren't so damn secretive. At least in the US the treaty becomes public due to the fact that only the Senate holds power to ratify it, and the Senate cannot have secret hearings on trade documents (has to be an issue of national defence, and even that is constitutionally questionable). So when it comes before the Senate, bitch then when you can read the text(if you're an American, anyway).

Tim

[ Parent ]

Long time since high-school history (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by johnny on Wed May 02, 2001 at 12:20:33 PM EST

So some of my facts may be off. But I think that we're in agreement about some things. The Hudson Bay Company, the East India Company, existed under a mercantile system, not a capitalist system. This distinction is important.

Those entities were big and powerful, but not mutinational-- they were subject to the crown (i.e. not to several crowns). Indeed they acted militarily in their own interest and at the behest of the crown. Thus the closest modern analog to the Hudson Bay Company or the East India company would be the American CIA, which acts a military force loosely controlled the government of the United States, but also in its own interests, with countless commercial enterprises around the globe disguised in the name of "national security." Good luck trying to convince me that the Hudson Bay Company was more powerful than the CIA.

Modern multinationals include the nomially law-abiding (e.g. Exxon); those that wink at the law (e.g. DeBeers), and those that flaunt the law (the Medellin Cartel). Their main attribute, with respect to the current discussion, is that they are able to play governements off of each other for the benefit of their stockholders. Their aims are NOT subordinate to those of the "crown." Whose priorities does, say Scott McNeally (Chair of Sun Microsystems) hold higher: his shareholders, or the United States of America's? Now if you say, "these priorities never come into conflict," I say, "Bullshit."

When one says, "Free trade is the path to Wealth for Everyone," you are making a religious assertion. You are implying that wealth is synonymous with material goods (a debatable proposition), and that greater "wealth", so defined, flows to "everyone," again a far from universally accepted assertion. I myself believe neither part of the religious assertion.

Finally, while I would not say that the USA is not *somewhat* democratic, neither would I say that the system favors individuals over corporations in how we make legislation, draft treaties, etc. Quite the inverse, I would say. I don't think our system is as horrible as Stalinist Russia. But I do think our system is fucked up and in grave danger of getting more fucked up. I think the street protesters are the canary in the coal mine, alerting us to the fact that something bad is happening.

yr frn,

jrs



yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.
[ Parent ]

Surely SOME degree of disruption is necessary (1.00 / 1) (#88)
by pavlos on Wed May 02, 2001 at 05:22:07 PM EST

There have been several comments along the lines of:

The protesters are breaking things, stopping traffic, or blocking buildings. These things are illegal or disruptive, so it is reasonable for the police to arrest or hit them.
Ahem, surely it is reasonable for the protesters to take some disruptive action. The point of a protest is that you feel sufficiently strongly about something that you are willing to put up some sort of resistance. You want to annoy and inconvenience the other side into meeting your terms.

The alternative it to turn up, politely state your opinion, and go away again at the appointed time. This would cause no inconvenience whatsoever to the power that you have a grievance with, who will proceed to ignore you.

A strike clearly hurts a business, much more than if one of its shop windows is broken. An anti-war protest that vandalizes missiles clearly hurts the property of the army. A boycott certainly hurts the sales of a firm. Although these forms of protest may be more or less legal in different places, they are at least recognized as reasonable and vaguely effective. Why should a street protest be entirely without disruptive effects?

I think direct action can qualify as protest, as opposed to all-out conflict, if the damage is small compared to the grievance. Thus, people who block roads or break windows of multinational franchises could reasonably claim they have been protesting, and that the damage is symbolic compared to the alleged grievance. It may still be illegal, but they can at least argue a political line of defense. On the other hand if people were to blow up the factory or shoot the store manager, that would be an act of outright aggression.

Pavlos

Protesters plan "peaceful" mass blockade. | 94 comments (83 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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