Gotham City Is Safe from the Protesters

by: Matt Stoller

Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 02:14


St Paul police chief John Harrington and Mayor Chris Coleman (who is apparently quite liberal) held a press conference yesterday to discuss the day's events.  If I were Coleman I'd be pissed, as news of the arrests of various journalists (including Amy Goodman) has traveled everywhere in town.  I mean, I ordered pizza for dinner and the delivery guy was bitching about the excessive security.

Here's video of the press conference I attended yesterday with Harrington and Coleman.  Harrington didn't know very much about apprehending journalists, but his bragging about his side's 'standing tall' and 'restraint' in the face of kids with bandanas while his officers had riot gear and semi-automatic weapons and were backed up by the national guard and a $50M security budget is laughable.  And it sounds laughable.

Part One

Matt Stoller :: Gotham City Is Safe from the Protesters

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four


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Green Zone St. Paul (4.00 / 3)
Arresting Amy Goodman, pepper spraying  Donna Brazile...now that's what ya call keeping a low profile. Gee, maybe we can get Dan Rather to show up so we can shove him around on the convention floor just for
old times' sake.

Thumbs up, Goopertroopers!


I saw Harrington on Washington Journal a couple of days ago (4.00 / 1)
His eyes kept darting furtively like the liar that he is, as he tried to defend these actions. This is a cowardly two-bit thug in a uniform who was hand-picked to be a convenient Uncle Tom front man for a bunch of pathetic "right-thinking" fascist self-styled Archie Bunker macho men who are still unable to get over the 60's, like Cheney, Bush, McCain, Mukasey, Alito & Co. They are case studies in pants-crapping overcompensating paranoid insecure maledom.

I can only hope that for all the authoritarian and sheeple types who will buy into the lies if not actively cheer them on, as many if not more people will view this as yet another example of what's gone so terribly wrong with the country under decades of incompetent and corrupt authoritarian conservative rule, and that it will ultimately backfire on them.

These sorts of things work both ways, depending upon the mood of the country at the time, and who's in office. I'm hoping that this time, it'll work in our favor, because the country is in no mood to feel forgiving towards the right these days. But who knows. The irrational fear of unruly and dangerous "others" has always lurked just beneath the surface in American history, and allowed all sorts of evil to be perpetuated. And the right knows how to milk it.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


the right (4.00 / 1)
can lie, cheat and steal and the left can barely breathe in america, ain't fascism great!

I was at the march (4.00 / 1)
Got there late, after reading a few posts here and picking up some other information as to the rather negative response from the stormtroopers.

Went prepared and alone.  See, I have (well, had) a couple of old, broken video cameras and I thought I might be able to take advantage of the situation and get the StP cops to dispose of them for me. It worked.

In one, I mounted a video tape (made on a functioning camera) featuring me (calmly) asking the cops why they felt it was necessary to abuse their fellow citizens and if they felt comfortable enough with themselves to sleep through the night.  That kind of thing. Hopefully, they take some time to look at the video before they trash it. In the other, I put a note inside the camera (no video tape) that pretty much said the same thing.

Went to the march, hung out with the families for a bit, and checked out where the stormtroopers where gathering.  I approached and aimed my "video camera" at them.  It took about 20 minutes and a few changes in position, but eventually, one of StP's finest had enough. When he demanded my camera, I didn't resist much and handed it over. He did not say, "thank you". Then I took out the other camera, he took that one, too.  I asked how I might get them back?  He said to call the sheriff's office on Tuesday and they'd let me know. I asked for a reciept and he ignored me. I hope he enjoyed his take. I don't plan on calling the sheriff.

I know its a simple, low-key, approach, but I had some fun.  Only sad part is that I couldn't convince anyone to use a good video camera to capture that ephemeral moment.

Oh well.  Stay Strong.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


Hey, at least it's (0.00 / 0)
the GOP this time around, unlike Chicago 68 when it was Daily and his thugs "protecting" a Dem convention. The example does hold though, a highly unpopular President pursuing what is increasingly seen as an unjust war using every power of a police state to crush lawful civil disobedience.

The demonstrators need to document this any way they can, phone cam, whatever. Maybe for once MoveOn.org can sponsor a useful ad.

Where is Franken during all this. by the way?


The difference 8 years makes... (4.00 / 1)
I was in Philly photographing during the 2000 RNC. As other writers here pointed out that the police (along with every other federal and state agency they were working with) really went all out with their pre-emptive raids and their impressive this-is-what-a-police-state-looks-like-spectacular by pulling in extra law enforcement from any state that borders PA (and any state that borders a state that borders PA).

But things have DEFINITELY changed.

Take a look at this photo I took 8 years ago:

Now, in this scene the police are taking control of Broad St. after protesters flooded the intersection to block delegates getting to the RNC. The sea of blue uniforms is impressive to say the least (especially since they outnumbered protesters at least 2 to 1).

But, the thing that now sticks out the most to me is the fact that they ARE in fact WEARING BLUE. These cops are in normal patrol uniforms. True, some of them were equipped with riot helmets, but what you don't have is the all-black military stylings I've been seeing in videos from the RNC this year. No full-on military body armor, no assault weapons, no military Humvees patrolling the streets.

The Philly police in 2000 felt that fitting up all the police with military gear would send the wrong image to world (and kept a lot of their police state actions as covert as possible).

Today, years after 9/11 and the republicans forcing fear down everyone's throat our government and a complicit public seem to be much less disgusted about a very visible and militaristic police state.

With all this said I'd just like to pose a question to the traditional media covering the protests this year:

Do you feel it's a bit overkill that the police protecting the RNC from kids wearing bandannas have better armor than some our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan?  


wow (4.00 / 1)
Do you feel it's a bit overkill that the police protecting the RNC from kids wearing bandannas have better armor than some our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan?  

Now THAT is a powerful question.


[ Parent ]
Now, all we need is someone with the guts to ask it. (0.00 / 0)
During a press conference.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Black uniforms and armor (0.00 / 0)
are much more intimidating than the "man in blue" look.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Definitely (0.00 / 0)
more intimidating.

But it raises old questions about public servants taking the look of a military force.

I will never commend the way the police were used around the 2000 RNC in Philly, but at least the protesters got to stare right into the eyes of another human. If a protester decided to be violent they had to morally accept the idea of violence against another human as being acceptable. Today, with the storm trooper ensemble that the police have picked out, the cops have managed to dehumanize themselves quite well and, in my opinion, risk the possibility of more violence.


[ Parent ]
I could not agree more (0.00 / 0)
Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think that BOTH intimidation AND enticing a more violent approach from the potesters that lean toward violence are the goals here.

They work together.  Intimidation, including militaristic "pre-emptive" raids, keeps some peaceful protesters from attending the marches and enticing the violence gives the cops a ready means to justify cracking down on ALL protesters.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
This IS what a police state looks like (0.00 / 0)
As I mentioned in another thread, the mainstream left has routinely ignored street demonstrations and the numerous instances of unprovoked police violence in response to them based on the cynical political calculus that any association with the demonstrators will undermine our credibility and/or "seriousness".  

So we remain silent and the ultimate result is that the protesters' chant "this is what a police state looks like" is no longer hysterical, but has become something close to reality.  

Our silence, in this instance, really does count as complicity.


[ Parent ]
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