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[P]
Anonymity, Transparency, and Street Protest

By bmasel in Op-Ed
Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 09:03:05 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

As the war in Iraq has turned bloodier, hightened emotions on all sides increase the risk of incidents at upcoming protests.

Like everyone else, Police Officers have a right to their viewpoints and emotions. They do not, however, have a right to let these emotions lead to summary punishment. The surest bar to this is accountability.


In reviewing reports of ugly incidents out of town, (Austin, SF, Portland, NYC) a common feature is abuse by Officers (provoked or not) anonymized by unmarked Federally funded riot suits. We can deter this by affixing highly visible numbers to each suit, and requiring officers to sign out their individualized gear.

I sent this suggestion to our local PD here in Madison, WI, cc'd to the Mayor, City Council, local media, and players in the Peace movement, with the result that the Police are currently affixing neon tape, pending more permanent markings, and an Ordinance requiring the practice is in the tubes. An obvious selling point to City Council members is the averted cost of Civil Suits.

There's a flipside in the use of bandanas and hoodies to anonymize the "black bloc." In general, there's a right to anonymous political speech. I agree tho, with the New York Federal Judge, who a couple years ago held that while the KKK had a right to rally in the City, a charged emotional climate justified requiring them to forego their hoods. (As this was a temporary restraining order hearing, not fully briefed, it did not set binding precedent.)

I'd call on Police Departments to mark their gear first however, as the situation is not symetrical. Police will remain armed, both with lethal and nonlethal weapons. Most jurisdictions forbid marchers to use, for instance, 2x4s as flagpoles. A Police Chief who first marks up the riot gear will have an easier time persuading the Kids in Black to skip the hoodies.

For that matter, keeping the riot gear out of sight until and unless it is clearly needed is prudent. You tend to get the Party you dress for.



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Display: Sort:
Anonymity, Transparency, and Street Protest | 101 comments (86 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not a bad idea (4.25 / 4) (#1)
by mstefan on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 03:40:38 PM EST

Clearly identifying police officers isn't a bad idea at all and would help protect the officers as much as the citizens. That said, I would expect the police to be more aggressive now that things like molotov cocktails are turning up at these so-called "peace protests".

I'm all for folks expressing their views by marching in parades, carrying signs and speaking out at rallies. However, if you plan on destroying private property, throwing explosives and engaging in other acts of "civil disobedience", then expect to find yourself in a world of hurt.



not to mention (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 03:57:00 PM EST

That it's self-defeating. One of the powers that these protests hold is solidarity. That's a good and a bad thing. On the good side, it gives ordinarily shy people the confidence to speak out. On the bad side, it gives people a false sense of security if they want to violently act out. ("What? I thought everyone was going to storm the barricades.")

When these things turn violent, it breaks that solidarity, and is likely to turn people away from the cause. Meanwhile, the opposition has another reason not to listen to the protest.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
The challenge... (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by bmasel on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 12:37:40 AM EST

for those of us who wish to keep these events peaceful, is to convince the "kids' that they can have an impact without going over the top. It helps a lot if the police are mature enough to understand the difference between serious lawbreaking, which should not be tolerated, and venting.
I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]
Of course (none / 0) (#74)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:37:29 PM EST

What would you define as "serious lawbreaking" and what would you define as "venting"?



[ Parent ]
I mostly agree. (4.66 / 3) (#4)
by bmasel on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 04:03:57 PM EST

But those who's idea of Civil Disobedience is sitting in an intersection or doorway should expect arrest, not mace, clubs, or pain compliance holds.
I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]
I would just point out (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by mstefan on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 04:08:46 PM EST

I agree with you, mostly. Except that it does no good to just tell someone who's engaging in that kind of civil disobedience (ie: blocking traffic, etc.) "you're under arrest" and leave it at that. Typically the mace, clubs and compliance holds come out when the person is told that they are under arrest and decide that they're going to keep on doing what they're doing. That then becomes resisting arrest, and that's a whole other ballgame.



[ Parent ]
One more nuance (5.00 / 2) (#6)
by bmasel on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 04:26:39 PM EST

"when the person is told that they are under arrest and decide that they're going to keep on doing what they're doing. That then becomes resisting arrest,"
If they're still just sitting there, it is not yet resisting arrest, at least per Wisconsin Statute. At this point, a prudent police commander will direct that they be carried to the paddywagon, not used for batting practice.


I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]
Not *submitting* yourself to arrest (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by terpy on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 12:41:22 AM EST

*is* resisting arrest. If an officer tells you that he is going to arrest you and you do not comply, you *are* resisting arrest. Non-compliance does *not* mean that you have become violent, it simply means that you are not cooperating. It is one of those sorta nebulous judgement calls. A police officer can say that you are resisting arrest if you do not stand up and present your hands behind your back.

Anything that involves you not being 100% compliant is by law resisting arrest, in Oregon anyways. I'd be interested in a link to the particular Wisconsin statute the you are referring to.

---
"I'd rather punch myself in the dick all day than drink a Pepsi. "-egg troll
[ Parent ]

Another thing.... (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by akma on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 05:25:18 PM EST

..they might ought to expect is that eventually some of them are going to block the wrong person's car, and that person is just going to plow over/through them. The driver could be anyone from a pro-war extremist to someone who's afraid to lose their job over being late for work or someone intimidated by the crowd. There's simply no telling. Either way, it is a risk those protestors might want to keep in mind.
__ "The worst fears of those Boys in Gray are now a fact of American life - a Federal government completely out of control" - Prof. Jay Hoar of Maine
[ Parent ]
Divert (none / 0) (#11)
by bmasel on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 05:35:17 PM EST

..they might ought to expect is that eventually some of them are going to block the wrong person's car,

as soon as possible, officers should be dispatched upstream to divert traffic around the obstruction.




I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]
Why? (3.16 / 6) (#23)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 08:18:36 PM EST

The road is built for cars, not for protesters. Why divert the cars and leave the protester alone? Wouldn't it make more sense to move the protesters and let the road work for what it was designed to do? Why must everyone else be diverted because YOU decided Bush is evil?


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
Protests (4.66 / 3) (#28)
by KittyFishnets on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:09:13 PM EST

While I agree with you, I would like to note that most of the protests in the last few months have been pre-planned (streets closed and detours arranged well before) and were held without incident. It is only since the war began that we've really seen any unplanned protests. You are absolutely correct that these demonstrations are infringing upon the rights of motorists. However, this is a highly emotional issue for a lot of people and you are unlikely to convince them not to assemble.

Recently, here in Los Angeles, there was a spontaneous protest that blocked Wilshire Blvd. Initially, the police attempted to contain the crowd to the sidewalk. There simply was not enough room for that many people. This resulted in several scuffles and arrests.

Before things got ugly, sense prevailed and the LAPD agreed to let the protestors have one lane of traffic. I greatly commend the authorities for that. Their flexibility very likely prevented many injuries and arrests in an otherwise peaceful assembly. When weighed on that scale, I could really care less if traffic laws were somehow temporarily suspended or if they were just plain ignored.

D

[ Parent ]

There's an important difference here (4.00 / 3) (#30)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:40:02 PM EST

The original quote that started the 'blocking the streets' thing:
But those who's idea of Civil Disobedience is sitting in an intersection

You're talking about the crowd being so large it must take over at least part of a street for there to be safety. The orginal comment is talking about an individual taking over a street because he wants to force people to pay attention to him. I have no problem with blocking traffic for safety, I have great problems with blocking traffic because some jerk decided me listening to him rant is more important than me doing what I want to do.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

Yes (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by KittyFishnets on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:13:23 PM EST

And I do agree with you on this issue, without reservation. If a subgroup moves away from the demonstration and deliberately sets out to break the law, those people should be arrested.

But your other posts in this thread show a strong hostility towards protestors. I ask only that you bear in mind that well over 99% of the people attending these events do so without desire to break the law or infringe upon the rights of others.

D

[ Parent ]

And I respect that 99% (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:25:13 PM EST

I'd just respect them a lot more, and not think of them as idiots, if they put forth even the slightest effort towards doing something about that remaining 1%.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
No (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by felixrayman on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:10:50 PM EST

The road is built for cars, not for protesters. Why divert the cars and leave the protester alone? Wouldn't it make more sense to move the protesters and let the road work for what it was designed to do?

No.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Keep three things in mind (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:31:23 PM EST

  1. Remember that Tianamen square ended in a bloody massacure of the protesters.
  2. Remember that the Tianamen square massacure didn't advance the protesters cause in the slightest, unless you consider martyrdom advancing the cause.
  3. Remember that you aren't in China. In America we arrest you and usually release you the same day instead of trying to run you over with a tank.



"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
incorrect (3.75 / 4) (#70)
by ethereal on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 01:47:26 PM EST

People walked and rode on the roads for thousands of years before cars came along. The only roads which specifically exclude pedestrian or equine traffic are interstate highways (in the U.S. at least). There's no divine right to the road; it's a public thoroughfare to be used by the public. We just normally use the roads in such a way that pedestrians and auto traffic can coexist.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Actually not a bad idea (3.57 / 14) (#13)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:00:19 PM EST

It is one way to prevent the police from aggitating the crowd. Unfortunately most of the aggitating and violence comes from the crowd rather than the cops. Perhaps protesters should be required to wear nametags as well?

For that matter, keeping the riot gear out of sight until and unless it is clearly needed is prudent. You tend to get the Party you dress for.

Considering how many protests have turned into violent destructive mobs intent on burning as much as they can, I think the riot gear is clearly needed as soon as more than 10 people get together with the sole intent of disrupting everyone elses life. If you don't want to feel rubber bullets then don't try and see how long you can be a pain in the ass to people just trying to drive around town.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B

Have you ever been to a protest march? (n/t) (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by iwnbap on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:11:31 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Hell no (3.41 / 12) (#16)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:22:37 PM EST

If I want to influence my politicians I write a letter and tell them which issues matter for my vote. It's a lot more effective than wandering around the streets going 'America sucks. Bet I can hit that Starbucks window with a rock from 30 yards.' I'm also allergic to blatent stupidity and would break out into hives within 5 minutes of a protest by the 'arsonists for peace' crowd. One last reason, you should never throw shit at an armed men, especially a police officer who has legal authority to kill you if threatened AND you should never stand next to someone throwing shit at an armed man.

I have no problem talking to peace protesters individually or in small groups. When they gather around in large crowds all they would need is white hoods for it to look like a KKK revival with Bush playing the role of the nigger, and we all know how much honest intellectual debate a KKK rally engages in. If these people want me to think they're really for peace perhaps they should put down the rocks, molotov cocktails, and 2x4's first.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

I've been to lots and: (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by iwnbap on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:32:18 PM EST


I've never seen a 2x4 or Molotov.  The only time I've seen rocks is when mounted police horse-charged a group of protesters who had made a wrong turn (off the route-plan).

Furthermore, I've seen traffic held up by marches try to ram protestors, and the police (witnessing this) waving the traffic on as if nothing had happened.


[ Parent ]

I've seen news of lots (3.14 / 7) (#21)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:59:27 PM EST

and hardly a week goes by without hearing about a peace protest turning violent. The irony loses it's humor after a year or two.

Quick question, what can cause more damage: the hells angels annual outting or a San Fransico peace protest? It's cost San Fransico $450,000 (so far) to keep peace protesters peaceful, how much does it cost to prevent a KKK rally from lynching blacks? We've all heard of the numerous acts of violence by protesters, when is the last time you heard of nazi skinheads going on a rampage in America?

I've seen traffic held up by marches try to ram protestors

HINT: If you don't want to get hit, stay out of the big gray thing designed for cars to go on. There's nothing in the first ammendment that says you have the right to force me to listen to you. Protesters complaining about almost being run over are almost as dumb as someone jumping in front of a gun and wondering why they ended up shot.



"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
bzzzt. risk assessment error (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by radish on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 08:34:19 PM EST

other pertinent questions: how many people at an Angels rally?  how many people on both sides at a KKK rally?  how many anti-war protesters?

break down your measure of destructiveness or cost of enforcement to a per capita basis and let's talk about it some more.  it doesn't take many skinheads to give you a good statistical likelihood of a backpack full of molotovs, but it takes an awful damn lot of otherwise law-abiding citizens.  quick question: was this skinheads, or not?  and does it somehow reflect on Donald Rumsfeld's position or is it totally unrelated?

also while I agree that walking in front of cars is dumb, being dumb is not against the law.  CA law provides a certain amount of protection for dumb pedestrians because there are a lot of them, and free speech has nothing to do with that.

[ Parent ]

Why should I care about 'per capita'? (3.80 / 5) (#32)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:49:53 PM EST

The question shouldn't be is 100,000 KKK members as dangerous as 100,000 protesters. The question should be is the average KKK meeting more dangerous than the average peace protest. I don't care about the theoretical danger per capita, what I care about is the real danger in the situations as they actually occur. From the recent past peace protests appear to be far more dangerous, expensive, and destructive than the KKK or skinheads, even assuming your link was done by skinheads.

As for the cars, we aren't talking about people walking in front of them. We are talking about people stopping and sitting in front of the for the sole reason they feel their message is more important than actually letting me do what I want. The first ammendment says a protester can say what they want. It does NOT say they can force me to actually listen to them. Ignoring a protest and driving away should be something I can do, but protesters intentionally make sure I can't.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

good enough for me (none / 0) (#43)
by radish on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:42:53 PM EST

you don't have to care about something just because it's traditional, but if you're using a nontraditional definition of risk you'll have to tell me what it is.

you say that the average KKK meeting appears to be more dangerous than the average peace protest.  please define "danger", "meeting", and "recent past" so we can see whether there's any substance to your argument.

re civil disobedience, why do you say that ignoring a protest and driving away should be something you can do?  if it's not free speech then it's no different from any other traffic jam and your "dumb enough to step in front of a car" argument seems to me to apply equally well to being dumb enough to drive into the middle of a traffic jam or live near a major sports/entertainment arena (in case you've never done this, it gets a little hard to leave your house at certain times).

[ Parent ]

Risk (4.00 / 3) (#55)
by godix on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 12:49:47 AM EST

Risk: Is group X going to pose a danger

Danger: Arson, violence, riots, and destruction of property.

Meeting: A pre-planned get together of a large (>100) group of people for a common goal.

Recent past: Loosely defined as anything past WWII. I basically consider it a time period where common elements of todays society were present. Cars, mass communication, etc.

why do you say that ignoring a protest and driving away should be something you can do?

An arguement often used in the first ammendments religion statements is that freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion if a person chooses. I see no reason that doesn't apply to speech as well. You're free to say what you want. I should be free to not have to listen to it.

it's no different from any other traffic jam

There is one important distinction. People in traffic jams, near major sports/entertainment arenas, etc. are not intentionally trying to cause problems. Problems are a natural result of the sheer number of people involved. Protesters on the other hand are actively going out of their way to cause problems for other people.



"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
ah. of course. that explains it. (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by radish on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 03:25:24 AM EST

I guess I should have known that "risk" would wind up defined by a question that lacks a terminating sigil.  

don't bother looking up any histories of the KKK or motorcycle clubs on my account, okay?  I think I've had all the structure-free conversations I can handle today.

[ Parent ]

Way Off Base, Ace (4.66 / 3) (#71)
by virg on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 02:44:43 PM EST

> As for the cars, we aren't talking about people walking in front of them. We are talking about people stopping and sitting in front of the for the sole reason they feel their message is more important than actually letting me do what I want. The first ammendment says a protester can say what they want. It does NOT say they can force me to actually listen to them. Ignoring a protest and driving away should be something I can do, but protesters intentionally make sure I can't.

Sorry, but you're violating the concept of reasonable response by leaps and bounds. You're right that the protesters do not have the right to force you to listen to them, but your response to that violation is far too extreme if you think that running them down is acceptable. If someone comes to your door and shouts their treatise at you through the door, even after you ask them to leave, you have the right to call the police, and have them removed. No sane person would think that their violation of your rights in this way gives you permission to threaten their safety, for example by opening your door and blowing them off your porch with a shotgun. If protesters formed a human chain across the sidewalk, do you really think any judge would forgive you if you knifed one of them so you could pass? Running down a protester who is not physically threatening you is simply unacceptable, and should be dealt with as harshly as you driving over a pedestrian crossing against the light because you're late for a meeting. Your inconvenience is not justification for assault.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
When did I say *I* would do it? (none / 0) (#81)
by godix on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 10:47:52 PM EST

I would not intentionally run over anyone except in the most extreme of circumstances. I also wouldn't be in the slightest suprised, or concerned, if it does happen. Mothers have been teaching their children not to play in traffic for ages, soon one of these protesters is going to wish they paid attention.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
So... (none / 0) (#92)
by virg on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 04:20:43 PM EST

> I would not intentionally run over anyone except in the most extreme of circumstances. I also wouldn't be in the slightest suprised, or concerned, if it does happen.

So you're not concerned with or surprised by criminal homicide, as long as you yourself don't do it? I can understand why you may not be surprised by it, but not to be concerned is still inexcusable. Parents tell their children not to play in the road because they might be injured accidentally. If those kids played in the road anyway, and someone who got annoyed with them decided to drive over them intentionally, would you be "concerned"? You can argue that the protesters are adults, and should therefore know better. I counter that the drivers are adults as well, and since the drivers are committing a worse offense by far, they should be punished severely.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Hells Angels are generally self-policing (none / 0) (#76)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:53:11 PM EST

When one of them starts getting rowdy, they handle the restraint. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of most protesters.



[ Parent ]
Car Twat (4.25 / 4) (#65)
by bloat on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 06:33:03 AM EST

HINT: If you don't want to get hit, stay out of the big gray thing designed for cars to go on.

Idiot. Since when does me being in the road give you the right to run me down?

Roads are not designed for cars - they are for people, whether they are in cars or not.

CheersAndrewC.
--
There are no PanAsian supermarkets down in Hell, so you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there.
[ Parent ]
How about the best of both worlds (none / 0) (#83)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 11:09:30 PM EST

a Hells Angels peace conference in Nevada that left what, four people dead and a casino all shot to hell?

[ Parent ]
Hadn't heard about it (none / 0) (#97)
by godix on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 07:52:27 PM EST

Now that you point it out I found an article about it. Was this the incident you're talking about? While it is darkly humorous it'd be even better if it was an anti-Iraq war peace conference.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
Yup (none / 0) (#100)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Mar 27, 2003 at 05:47:59 PM EST

that's the one.

I imagine the local police must have had mixed emotions about the whole thing. Really, do you want outlaw bikers to form peaceful alliances, or are you better off with bullets flying and fewer Angels at the end?

[ Parent ]

Nazi skinheads (none / 0) (#91)
by JonToycrafter on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 01:33:49 PM EST

Last time I can think of Nazi skinheads turning violent?

Check the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

www.wiesenthal.com

Disclaimer: The SWC has their own reasons to play up Nazi skinhead violence, but I trust you all have bullshit meters to take care of that.

Note that they're probably not aware of the guy who drove a pickup through a bunch of antifascist protestors in January 2002 in south NJ - that's the last time I've heard about skinheads turning violent, but I don't keep track of these things.

I also don't hear about protestors complaining about being accidentally hit by cars, I hear complaints about being intentionally rammed with cars. Even if blocking an intersection is stupid, the penalty shouldn't be grievous bodily injury.

I also encourage you not to believe everything you hear on the news - the media, for reasons of expediency, have every reason to report police press reports as "what actually happened". Police have every reason to characterize protestors as violent, to justify their own misconduct, which is far more prevalent.

This is NOT the same as saying all protestors are non-violent, but there's a difference between a dozen violent protestors in a group of 125,000+, and the sanctioned violence of the police.

To quote an anonymous NYPD leiutenant, "A lot of my men are assholes."

To quote a police officer not on crowd control duty speaking to another officer who had, in DC last September, "I wish I'd had a chance to beat on some of these punks."

As you pointed out in another post, debating in the middle of a mob does no good, but I'm happy to respond to any comments or question you have in this forum.

[ Parent ]

Local precedent (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by bmasel on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:50:45 PM EST

Any given protest does not take place in a vacuum. The mood is determined, in large part, by past local practice.

I was in LA for marches outside the last Democratic National Convention. While things didn't get thoroughly out of hand until the third day, hostility was pervasive from the first.

In Madison, we make smalltalk with the cops at rallies. Even Chicago Police are not generally nasty at demonstrations these days, unless heavily provoked.




I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]
The problem is (4.00 / 5) (#22)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 08:08:35 PM EST

the violence in LA directly reflects on the peaceful protesters in Madison or Chicago. I have yet to see a K5 article against violent protesters written by protesters. Considering how outspoken they are about violence halfway around the world, the only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that peace protesters are for riots and destruction, as long as it's them doing it and not the US government. If you ever want to sway my opinions of you, put down the 'Attack the cops for peace' sign and stand up against ALL violence, especially that done by people who share your point. I find it interesting that you talk about police violence in your article but the only protester violence you mentioned was for the KKK, a group you presumably don't agree with.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
I was in New York (3.25 / 8) (#29)
by cdyer on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:36:09 PM EST

for the protests on February 14th.  The cops were very friendly, though they were adamant about not letting us step off the sidewalks in the part of the protest which had gotten away from the designated area.  They lost one intersection to protesters for about five minutes near Times Square, but got it back by a non-violent show of force.  (lining up along one side of the intersection, and marching across, forcing the protesters back, and then wedging them back onto the sidewalks)  As I left for my subway out to queens, I thanked the police officers for helping keep the protests friendly.  During the day, I saw at least three other people thank them.  None of the protesters I met wanted any violence whatsoever, and the police were integral to making sure that didn't happen.  

However, comparing street scuffles to a war is ingenuous, godix.  Even the LA riots couldn't compare to a day of war.  I deplore the violence that occurs at peaceful protests, and I think it undermines what everyone else is trying to do, but I don't think it merits the kind of popular opposition that war, and particularly this war, has received.

Cheers,
Cliff

[ Parent ]

New York is not San Francisco (4.60 / 5) (#33)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:51:16 PM EST

In SF if you complain about the violent protests it seems half the protesters will jump up and defend it as "diversity of tactics," "fighting against capitalism," or "a creative rampage," and constantly repeat "But the Boston Tea Party!"

Sometimes they go off about how there should be no property or at least no property rights, so it is morally acceptable to smash whatever they want. It gets hilarious then.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Really? (1.50 / 2) (#35)
by cdyer on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:00:27 PM EST

Now that's just crap.

Cheers,
Cliff

[ Parent ]

Helllllllo! (3.00 / 6) (#60)
by greenrd on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 04:47:24 AM EST

Pity the poor corporations who are only going about an honest business of [ exploiting third-world workers and paying them $1 a day / torturing animals / externalising risk onto the environment, the poor and the taxpayer ]. Someone smashed one of their shop windows! Oh no! That really is morally beyond the pale! I really feel sorry for McDonalds, Starbucks, and GAP!


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

See what I mean: (5.00 / 3) (#66)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 08:36:53 AM EST

He goes off and proves my point.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

I have to post this... playing devil's advocate (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:50:39 PM EST

Pity the poor protesters who are only going about the honest business of [hurling rocks with intent to injure people / destroying property / externalizing risk onto peaceful protestors who are merely exercising their speech and assembly rights]. Someone broke one of their bones! Oh no! That really is morally beyond the pale! I feel really sorry for them!



[ Parent ]
That's nice (5.00 / 2) (#36)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:06:16 PM EST

while you were taking part in a peaceful protest others with your exact same views and messages were attacking police with clubs. I point out that associating with violent twits without a single word about their violence makes you look like a violent twit also. In response I get a story totally unrelated to the violent twits, a lecture on your favorite subject of how evil war is, an almost afterthought of 'oh yeah, the protester violence is bad', and a 1 rating. Yup, that shows me your deep commitment to peace all right.

Incidently, I'm not a stong supporter of the war. Someone who basically agrees with the protesters views them as a bunch of childish idiots, imagine what the people actually for the war view you as. All the protests in the world couldn't stop the war, the protesters make sure no one can take them seriously enough to matter.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

I take it back. (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by cdyer on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 11:33:11 PM EST

I'm taking back my one rating.

First of all, I think I rated your comment before I had any intention of replying.  Second of all, on further inspection, I think you make some decent points, and don't deserve a one.  However, I think your idea that opposing the war without putting forth an equal amount of effort to oppose the violent protesters is not persuasive.  They are entirely different scales of violence.  Futhermore, one has a great bearing on the way international politics are conducted, and the other has none.  

And while you are right, that the protests did not stop the war, and probably could not have done so, I disagree with your assertion that they are thereby useless.  You may notice that the rhetoric about the war is much different than it was before the protests.  It is now frequently said, and not just by leftist radicals, that this war is being fought "against the will of the people of the world."  This is largely due to the outpouring of people on several hundreds of cities around the world on that one day.  As the biggest day of protest the world has ever seen, it may even make the history books.  You may say, "Who cares? People are still dying in Iraq."  And you'd be right on that level.  But I'm not quite so cynical.  I think that actually means something.  I think it has changed the way this year's events will be remembered.

Now I'm not a gung ho protest lover.  I don't hit the streets every time there's a political cause to fight for.  In fact I have some reservations about the things that go on at protests, even when violence isn't involved.  What I saw was a bunch of people chanting, banging on drums, dancing, hooting and hollering, and acting like a bunch of clowns who owned the streets of New York for a day.  Not much of substance was said or done (at least where I was, far from the official speeches), and at times I felt like I was wasting my time, because the protests lacked any real substance.  But in the end, I feel it was worthwhile.  I got to contribute to an event that was seen on world-wide news stations.  That's good enough for an afternoon's work, as far as I'm concerned.  

Cheers,
Cliff

[ Parent ]

Protesting means something, but is that good? (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by godix on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 12:38:34 AM EST

However, I think your idea that opposing the war without putting forth an equal amount of effort to oppose the violent protesters is not persuasive.

That wasn't my intention. I don't expect the world to take to the streets over the SF molotov cocktails, broken shop windows, etc. My point and complaint is that I don't generally see a single person who's for protests talking about any of the violent protests. The basic attitude seems to be 'if we ignore it it'll go away'. As someone who doesn't take part in the protests but agrees with the general point of them, I find this amoung other common protests tactics deplorable.

It is now frequently said, and not just by leftist radicals, that this war is being fought "against the will of the people of the world."

Actually I don't recall anyone but leftist radicals saying this. Michael Moore at the Oscars is a good example. This might be a case of the extreme burying the moderate though.

I think that actually means something.  I think it has changed the way this year's events will be remembered.

Of course it means something, and it actually has influence public opinion in countries other than the US. The question is if protesters effects are for the better or worse. That's a huge debate in and of itself, but the short answer for me is that it made things worse.

Not much of substance was said or done ....... and at times I felt like I was wasting my time, because the protests lacked any real substance.

This quote contains some of my basic opinion of protesters. They aren't good for their intended purpose, they cause many harmful side effects,  and the only positive they produce is feel good circle jerking of each other.

NOTE: All my opinions stated so far apply only to the Iraq war protesters. My opinions may very well be different if the protesters are actually protesting oppresive regimes (IE China) or if their protests are effective (IE Ghandi's Indian liberation).


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

Where do you live? (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by linca on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 10:28:09 AM EST

Actually I don't recall anyone but leftist radicals saying this.

Then, "Le Figaro" and Jacques Chirac are "leftist radicals". The same could be noted about many other mainstream media and politicians around the world. You have an interesting worldview.

[ Parent ]

America of course (none / 0) (#80)
by godix on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 10:43:32 PM EST

I find it hard to take France or it's leader seriously. Every time Chirac talks I can see Schröder's lips moving. The 'gottle of gear' routine gets old after awhile.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
So (none / 0) (#82)
by linca on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 10:48:13 PM EST

Schroeder is a left wing extremist. Or Putin. Interesting too.

Though your thinking that Chirac is only telling what Schroeder wants him to say clearly show you don't even try to get a realistic view of EU politics.

[ Parent ]

Yes, they are (none / 0) (#84)
by godix on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 11:40:44 PM EST

by American standards. You're free to judge by European standards, I'm free to judge by American standards.

I freely admit I don't study EU politics in depth for pretty much the same reason I haven't studied the politics in Zimbabwe in depth. I don't live there, it's highly doubtful I'll ever live there, I don't personally know anyone who lives there, and they're too powerless to ever be a threat to me. The only reason EU members know much about American politics that that we are powerful enough to be a threat, and even then any blog frequented by Europeans is full of idiocies about American politics. I do know more about EU politics than Zimbabwes because they do have more of an influence on American actions, but the Iraq war is showing how limited that influence really is.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#85)
by linca on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 12:04:43 AM EST

Putin is a right wing authoritarian dictator wanna be. Even by American standards, that's not left wing. If you call that left wing extremist, you're implying Bush is somewhat to the right of Hitler. Try getting a clue one day.

As for threats, remember that three European countries still have the capacities to destroy the US. The US planned destruction of the EU could revert the continent to its old demons of war and destruction.

And if you don't have a clue about something, then shut up. Though your sig shows you care more about Europe than you are willing to admit.

[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#86)
by godix on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 12:30:41 AM EST

three European countries still have the capacities to destroy the US.

A) I was speaking economically. Although re-reading my post I can see that wasn't clear.
B) I bet the US knows where every single nuke in the EU is based at. I doubt the EU could say the same. Once those nukes were netralized there's little any EU country (except perhaps Switzerland) could do to stop an American invasion.
C) The entire military arguement is moot anyway, I would be less suprised to see India and Pakistan holding a love orgy in the middle of Kashmir than to see an actual war between the EU and America.

The US planned destruction of the EU

Reality to linca, the US is closing bases and removing troops from Germany, not planning an invasion and destruction of it or any other EU country. I suppose given current events there is an incredibly remote chance we'd end up at war with Turkey, but they aren't in the EU yet.

Though your sig shows you care more about Europe than you are willing to admit.

The sig is there for the same reason any of my past sigs are there, I found it funny. Being able to laugh at France/US relationships doesn't mean I actually care about them.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]

destruction of the EU (none / 0) (#87)
by linca on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 12:43:44 AM EST

I was meaning the destruction of the political body known as the EU, not military attack. Which is a clear side effect of current and past US policies.

As for economic threats, well, that is one field where the US is still mostly comitted to multilateralism (it obviously has to) and where the EU has influence over the US (and vice versa). Or all the lobbying at the WTO is just for show.

[ Parent ]

I hear protestors all the time say they hate.... (4.00 / 3) (#46)
by FuriousXGeorge on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 11:41:56 PM EST

violence at a peacy rally.  But the peace movement is not a lone organization, it's a whole lot of individuals.

While the catholic church can, in one voice, say they dislike the terrorist attacks on abortion clinics, the less organized mass of anti-abortion protesters might not be able to.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Just another snowball fight (none / 0) (#56)
by felixrayman on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 01:11:24 AM EST

"Thirty or forty persons, mostly lads, being by this means gathered in King Street, Capt. Preston with a party of men with charged bayonets, came from the main guard to the commissioner's house, the soldiers pushing their bayonets, crying, make way! They took place by the custom house and, continuing to push to drive the people off, pricked some in several places, on which they were clamorous and, it is said, threw snow balls. On this, the Captain commanded them to fire; and more snow balls coming, he again said, damn you, fire, be the consequence what it will! One soldier then fired, and a townsman with a cudgel struck him over the hands with such force that he dropped his firelock; and, rushing forward, aimed a blow at the Captain's head which grazed his hat and fell pretty heavy upon his arm. However, the soldiers continued the fire successively till seven or eight or, as some say, eleven guns were discharged."

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
another view of f15 (none / 0) (#93)
by akb on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 04:32:58 PM EST

Here's a video (17MB quicktime) by the NYC Independent Media Center which has another view of what happened that day.  It shows, amongst other things, the cops riding horses into seated crowds, using pepper spray on nonviolent people walking away from them, and crushing people (including an elderly woman) w/ metal barriers.

The footage will be used in a law suit against the NYPD and is being shown at a city council hearing on police abuse.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

more re: The Problem (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by bmasel on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 12:08:38 AM EST

I thought it was implicit, but I guess I've not yet earned the benefit of the doubt here.

Throwing stuff at cops not currently engaged in illegal violent acts is morally wrong, and stupid.

If the cops are presently beating on somebody, the moral (and legal) issues are ambiguous, but it's still generally stupid. Once a decade or so, the circumstances may be such that a LITTLE bit of "fighting back" can be the catalyst for negotiations that would not happen if the Police felt immune.

The absolute STUPIDEST protester violence I can recall was a KKK rally in Beloit. A few of the "We Hate the Klan" guys tried to throw eggs over the cops at the klansmen. Predictably, the eggs fell short, hitting police. The anti-klan group, both those who'd thrown the eggs and the rest,  predictably got smacked around.

In my experience (I've been at every Dem and Repub National Convention since '72 but 2) trouble usually comes not from a predetermined plan to comit meyhem, but from frustration, which can affect either cops or protesters, more often both.

Example: the cops who went nuts in LA had been told to stand out on blacktop all day in August, in their black riot gear. Those chasing marchers all day were likewise beat and overheated. I don't blame them for being in surly moods. I do blame the commanding officers who a) put them thru that, and b) failed to halt their taking those frustrations out on anyone who looked like they might have been a protester.

It doesn't help , of course, that in mediaculture, protests aren't News without either arrests, or even better "live action" footage.

A city wishing to avoid gnarly conflict is advised to take an expansive view of speech and assembly. let protesters close enough to be seen and heard, and (human nature here, not blackmail) they'll enjoy themselves, maybe get a little obnoxious, but nobody will get hurt. Try to fence them 2 miles out, like Quebec City, and don't act suprised when they try to pull down your fence.

Anyhow, I'm not trying to "justify" protester violence. I have no problem with someone who pitches a rock getting arrested, a fair trial, and if convicted, a sentence. I do object when the Police feel impunity to mete out sentences of their own. (See Philadelphia.)

Hm. is it time to turn this into a book?
.

I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]

You are weak as fuck (2.20 / 5) (#34)
by felixrayman on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 09:59:59 PM EST

And your words are a slur on those who died to get you the right to send your pussy ass letter. Crispus Attucks was in the right and Private Hugh Montgomery was in the wrong - I would have no problem standing next to the former while he threw shit at the latter. If you disagree, perhaps you really desire a less free nation in which to live, there are plenty of them that should suit you. And, as a final note, I will leave with the words of my step-father,

"If an MP with an M-16 can't subdue a crowd of protestors without firing his gun, he doesn't deserve to be a fucking Marine."

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Odd (3.83 / 6) (#39)
by godix on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:20:36 PM EST

I thought it was the military forces that have repeatedly died to give me my rights. Apperently I was wrong, some moron in San Fransico with a 'Roosevelt is a nazi' sign in one hand and a malotov cocktail in the other won WWII. Now that I think about it I do recall the infamous charge of the 'Lincoln stole the election' bridgade in the Civil War. WWI was a lost cause until a bunch of rioters destroyed downtown Seattle, that incident had the Germans running scared. And of course there's your example, clearly Washington and the militias would have been worthless if Attucks never attacked. Obviously my right to be 'weak as fuck' about history is defended by a twinkie, his sign, and a broken store window.


"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
[
Parent ]
Revolution was over by summer of 74 (4.33 / 3) (#44)
by felixrayman on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 11:19:44 PM EST

If you think Washington was the one that won the Revolutionary War, you need to read some history. It was all over in 1774 when a bunch of Massachusetts farmers broke up British courts, emptied the prisons and sent British officials packing. British authority was gone from the colonies after that point even if British soldiers were still there for a few years.

As for your whining about protests during WWI, here is what Teddy Roosevelt had to say about those who protested against him:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public"

Those were wiser days. And I consider you morally treasonable to the American public.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
You idiot (none / 0) (#77)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:54:45 PM EST

The British didn't leave Massachusetts until March 17, 1776.



[ Parent ]
Their authority left in August of '74 (none / 0) (#79)
by felixrayman on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 08:44:11 PM EST

All across Massachusetts in the summer of 74 farmers revolted and refused to allow British judges to hold court. For example when the British appointed judges showed up to try to take office in Worcester county on September 6, 1774, they were met by a crowd of 1,000 armed farmers who turned them away. There were similar occurences in Plymouth, Taunton, Concord, Springfield - wherever the British appointees tried to hold court.

In Concord the judges tried to make a deal with the militia that refused to allow them to exercise power - they said they would conduct no business if the the armed citizens would let them take office. The militia said 'no dice'.

All across the state in August and September the armed militias kicked out the judges and councillors - the enforcers of British power in the state. In Dartmouth they kicked an army officer out of town after cutting his horse's tail and mane off, in Brimfield they tarred and feathered an army officer and threw others in jail and in Cambridge 4000 protestors surrounded the house of the lieutenant governor of the state and forced him to step down - all this between the beginning of August and the end of September, 1774.

By fall, all across the state power was in the hands of the militias. As I clearly stated in my previous post, British troops remained in the colonies, and yes Boston was still in enemy hands. British authority was gone from the state forever, however, and this is the point that you, my illiterate idiot, failed to comprehend when your mother was reading you my post.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
and if you're protesting hand out some snack food (4.75 / 12) (#20)
by radish on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 07:52:42 PM EST

no, seriously.  and if you haven't seen that particular cop do anything evil you might as well thank them for protecting your right to dissent too.

if you expect the benefit of the doubt then it's important to give it, and going a little further to actually be kind doesn't hurt anything.  it may improve somebody's mood enough to discourage them from losing their cool and beating the crap out of you (or somebody else).  er, don't wait until they're about to beat the crap out of you though.  and don't get too conversational.  they're at work and you're not.

peace officers really do have to put up with a whole bunch of shit that other people don't.  that doesn't mean that they don't abuse their position and it doesn't mean that there isn't a culture of violence in many police departments (particularly in big cities).  it just means that if you're out there making a fuss you need to keep in mind that the cop who's glowering at you may not actually be thinking about bashing your head in.  they may just be mad about missing a little league game so you can have your say.

Heh, pretty funny (3.33 / 3) (#63)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:27:57 AM EST

"They call you pig, robot, Nazi," he said. "They call you everything. You stand there, and you take it. You don't talk. You don't answer. If you stay detached, then they don't own you."

But not like a robot, right?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

I doubt they would eat... (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 08:29:14 PM EST

... something given to them under such circumstances. It would be too easy for someone to slip them a Micky.



[ Parent ]

Possible Rules (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by nomoreh1b on Mon Mar 24, 2003 at 10:30:52 PM EST

I like the idea of requiring that police be required to have identifying numbers on their gear(that presumedly would be recorded by their commanders). Police have had a history of rioting (the 1968 Chicago convention right was according to at least one judge, a "police riot").

It is also plausible that if this were done, cities might also require something similar of those that are staging large protests if they choose to wear hoods or masks of some type.

Numbers are required (4.77 / 9) (#57)
by driptray on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 02:03:44 AM EST

In New South Wales (the most populous state of Australia), uniformed police are required to wear identification numbers.

And they do, most of the time. But there have been many reports over the years of groups of police removing their ID badges before getting stuck into a crowd of protesters. I've seen it myself, and witnessed an amazing scene where the crowd began chanting "Where are your badges?!" to a group of police who had been seen removing them. Of course this just riled the police even more, and they got really nasty.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating

So we're back to the basic problem (4.33 / 3) (#64)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:29:18 AM EST

Who watches the watchmen?  Who enforces the rules on the rule makers?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Numbers are required. (none / 0) (#89)
by hughk on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 09:38:19 AM EST

In New South Wales (the most populous state of Australia), uniformed police are required to wear identification numbers.
Interesting, are there any regulations about policemen being 'properly dressed'?. I would have thought that the best counter to this is that an unidentifiable policemen looses his rights as a policeman.

Under the UK law, a police officer must either be properly dressed as an officer when arresting or show his/her warrant card.

One serious problem happens is that due to the number of persons involved in a major demo, police officers are bussed in from elsewhere. I guess the usual shoulder flash numbers are then no longer unique as they refer to that officer's local constabulary.

[ Parent ]

This is a very good idea! (4.00 / 4) (#58)
by Spork on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 02:38:21 AM EST

Good work! This story needs to get out so that more local departments can de-annonymize their officers.

quid pro quo (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Lenny on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 03:36:47 PM EST

The protesters should do the same. There should be an organization that keeps a list of the protesters and assigns numbers as well. Anonynimity is a weapon to both sides.


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
difference between protestors and police (none / 0) (#95)
by mlc on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 05:06:04 PM EST

There's an important difference between protestors and police: the latter are paid by the state, and nominally work to protect the public.

The right to anonymous political speech has long been upheld by the US Courts, most notably in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission:

Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation--and their ideas from suppression--at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse. (link)
(And, as an update to the case mentioned in the article, Judge Harold Baer ruled last November that the wearing of masks is protected speech, even when the speech in question in unpopular.)

But police ought to be maintaining order. Society pays them money and gives them special permission to carry and use weapons; in exchange for this, we ought to get accountability. Protestors are accountable to their own code of ethics (with the risk of the consequences when that code clashes with society's); police, because we pay them, are accountable to society's.

--
So the Berne Convention is the ultimate arbiter of truth and morality. Is this like Catholicism? -- Eight Star
[ Parent ]

But... (none / 0) (#96)
by bmasel on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 05:24:30 PM EST

I like the ruling, but compare his language leading to footnote 8. He held that the particular mask law was unconstitutional, but seems to suggest an ordinance more narrowly drafted toward the use of masks to conceal identity at a riot might pass muster.

In the KKK case, the mask is held to be itself expression.
I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
[ Parent ]

Waah! (2.18 / 11) (#61)
by Demiurge on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 04:52:32 AM EST

We want to riot, but when we start attacking the police, they actually fight back! Make the fascist pigs stand there as we throw rocks at them!

waaaah! (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by divinus on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 11:26:35 PM EST

when our pebbles bounce harmlessly off their military grade armour, they shoot us with plastic load shotguns and use chemical weapons on us.

[ Parent ]
an opinion backed by personal experience (4.85 / 14) (#62)
by KiTaSuMbA on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 05:17:17 AM EST

Here in europe massive protests are a practically institutionalized form of expression of public dismay and form of direct influence to the government. Almost as standardized though are violent events originating and perpetuated by both sides (protesters and anti-riot forces).
Here is a random collection of what I think are necessary conditions to ensure a peaceful protest as a form of exercised democratic rights.
First of all let's define what should be the scope and means of each side.
The protesters need to make a point, to influence a government or the public opinion / awareness. As such, the demonstration is very similar to a strike: it has to create some inconvenience otherwise everybody else will just go on minding their own business and ignoring them making the whole effort pointless. If you are a passer-by respect the people's wish to express their opinions and troubles. Don't insult them and don't provoke: you will only make things worse and risk an upscaling of the tension. Even on street-blocks a calm dialog can solve a lot more: no sane protester will block a real emergency (no, making it in time to watch the game on TV is NOT an emergency). OTOH, harrassing people and ruining properties that have nothing to do with the should-be receiver of your message as a protester is doing no good but a lot of harm to your cause, conveying the wrong message that you are a bunch of troubles and no more.
The anti-riot forces should have the scope of keeping things orderly allowing you to exert your rights and even protecting you from any auto-proclaimed "order enforcers". They should not exert political power by interfering with the protest unless their assistance is required for designated scopes.
Ok, now that we have clear some concepts let's see what should be the "rules of engagement":
Anti-riot forces:
  • ID tags should be evident on the officers' outfits and they should provide name and position upon request by any citizen, protesting or not. That's the only way to guarantee democratic control on police abuse of power through justice.
  • use of violence should be restrained to the absolute necessary to stop illegal/violent acts in flagrance. Hitting people on their backs while fleeing or while lying down is obviously NOT necessary. It will only increase animosity on the  same or the next protest and will just make your job harder.
  • use of tear gas - if any - should be limited both in space and time to "keep offenders at bay" and not as "overwhelming power" since you cannot target specific individuals but the crowd as a whole. You risk to create a warzone yourselves not to mention useless health hazzards especially for people suffering from asthma (to say that asthmatics should refrain from their right to demonstrate because some hotheads could lead things out of proper course is at least childish).
  • presenting yourselves with a "war attitude" (wearing anti-gas masks while things are peaceful, rythmic marching and yelling, starting or replying to random verbal insults) is a guarantee for havoc.
  • presence of officers in civil outfits within the demonstration not only raises questions for a democratic state but also risks a major incident should they be discovered by the mass of protesters.
  • The anti-riot forces should NEVER carry firearms. This is a personal invitation for hell unleashed. On one hand, I don't even dare imagine what could happen if during a violent episode an officer is overwhelmed and his weapon taken. On the other hand, we have only too often mourned deaths of people who while most of the times were breaking the law, their crimes would cost them at most a penalty of 2-3 yrs but were shot in the total panic and chaos of the moment.
  • The officers composing the anti-riot teams should be specifically and well trained while perhaps even a psychological profiling could be useful to determine the personel most efficient for the job. If the sh*t hits the fan, protesters are going to panic... If they panic too, then it's going to be a long and terrible mess.
But what about the protesters' side? Well they have some work to do too:
  • Always have a decent organisation, a group of responsible people to act as representatives to handle dialog with the police forces, hand over manifestos, handle press releases, condone or not parallel events etc.
  • don't expect the police officers to babysit you. Form small flexible teams of willing and low-tempered people for guarding your march to keep out "foreign elements" and "troublemakers" as well as keeping an eye to lower the tension on small incidents and quarels. If you particularly fear episodes, form a "human chain" surounding the body of the march: after the assembly and start of the march nobody comes in and nobody gets out of that body.
  • Tempestevily plan your "route", "assembly location" and "end point" and make it public. Anything happening outside of that route is not your problem.  
  • dispatch people on key positions along that route and nearby (cell phone and a vespa being hudge advantages) so that you have a clear picture of the situation for eventual "strange" police movements, episodes ahead or near you etc. That way you can make knowledgable decisions and modify your plans if necessary.
  • don't dress up like it's a bad Mad Max remake. Not only you look ridiculous and along with you your cause too, you are actually "asking for it" as you appear determined to go on a reckless street fight.
The "just in case" preparations and actions. There is always a chance that the sh*t does hit the fan despite all good intentions and proper organization. In that case, the scope is to limit injuries, health problems and panic.
  • garments:
  • if the weather permits it, a leather jacket can absorb a lot of the rubber club hit.
  • wear sturdy trekking / hiking shoes. "Statement" sandals are a wish for injury while heavy, military-type boots will prevent you from a fast and long run-away from the "warzone" back to safety and fresh air.  
  • wear your socks! The march alone will get you blisters and if it calls for running you'll be limping away at turtle-speed.
  • "toolkit" preferibly in a backpack:
  • a bottle of water: never underestimate it!
  • a nicelly packed tampon cotton within a cloth: it can help a lot your breathing if the police deploy gas.
  • half a lemon: I know it hearts but a couple of lemon drops on your eyes form a thin film blocking direct contact with tear gas.
  • iodine / betadine etc.: rapid medication for superficial cuts.
  • actions:
  • in case of a charge don't run along like a madman. On the first relatively peaceful crossing turn and calm down. Walk away...
  • don't stand in the middle of the road passive playing Gandi. If you don't get hit in the clubbing frenzy you will get trampled around.
  • don't trap yourself running for cover in an angle / stairs / fence within the very core of the "battlefield": you are about to receive heavy flak there! Stairs and fencies are particularly dangerous since you also risk getting trampled and badly injured by a following wave of escaping people having the same stupid idea.
  • if you see a policeman running directly at you while you have already fleed the front, stand still holding your hands close to your head and turning to the side while declaring clearly you are peaceful. Chances are you are going to get at most a bruised sholder but your head will be idle. Even if you are mistreated you'll have as clear-cut a case as it can get in a situation like that. Run, and you just pushed your luck to get the sh*t beaten out of you along with a probable fancy "resistance to authorities" charge.
A good case where almost every single "rule" was overseen by both sides was the Genoa antiglobalisation protest that led to utter chaos, massive destruction of properties, police abuse, hundreds of injured and ultimately a death.
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
No lemon juice! (none / 0) (#90)
by JonToycrafter on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 12:44:44 PM EST

Most of this info is sound, but lemon juice in the eyes is not a good idea. There are a number of suggestions floating on the Internet that don't work (baking soda and water), or are even downright harmful (egg wash on your face).

Street Medics have almost 40 years of continuous experience with what works and what doesn't. To tap into that information, go to www.action-medical.net and look up "Health and Safety at Militant Demonstrations".

I've been a street medic at 20+ demonstrations, some quite large. I've been teargassed, pepper-sprayed, and arrested, and the info in that pamphlet hasn't led me astray yet.

If you expect chem weapons, wear eye protection. Even eyeglasses is better than nothing, but a pair of swim goggles that forms a suction-based seal is best. Other good options include goggles that don't form a complete seal (foam around the eyes), or even chem-lab goggles with the vents duct-taped over. I'd go into more detail here, but if you're serious about this, attend a health and safety training in your area, or read the pamphlet. It WILL save your ass.

[ Parent ]

how about a link? (none / 0) (#94)
by turmeric on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 04:44:07 PM EST

n/t

[ Parent ]
Cigarette Smoke (none / 0) (#99)
by clayton on Thu Mar 27, 2003 at 05:01:20 AM EST

University students in South Africa in the 80's early 90's were used to being tear gassed. The standard response was to get someone to blow cigarette smoke into your eyes. Only had to have this done once, but it worked pretty well.
turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality
[ Parent ]
My freinds dad was riot cop during the 60's (3.66 / 3) (#67)
by auraslip on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 09:38:17 AM EST

Storys abound about doing lots of coke and how great beating up hippies was.
I truthfully believe that some cops are insane.
124
be the change you want to see (4.00 / 4) (#68)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 10:00:08 AM EST

if the cops are gonna clamp down/expose on their bad apples the protestors better be prepared to do the same

For the other side of the fence (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by egg troll on Tue Mar 25, 2003 at 04:05:39 PM EST

If you're considering protesting, here's some wise advice to follow. Good luck!

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

Broken Link (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by jonathon on Fri Mar 28, 2003 at 12:38:50 AM EST

"The posting you were looking for has been removed from the server". Bummer.

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.
-- Stephen Hawking
[ Parent ]
Another Example (none / 0) (#88)
by harrystottle on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 07:18:25 AM EST

of the need for Trusted Surveillance



Mostly harmless
Anonymity, Transparency, and Street Protest | 101 comments (86 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
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