Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unrest in Minneapolis

The reports of clashes with police and numerous arrests sounds more like 1968 than 2008. CNN reports that the situation is quite serious.

At least 56 people were arrested Monday after police fired projectiles and used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd demonstrating near the site of the Republican National Convention.

5,000 demonstrators marched peacefully, but as often happens, a small splinter group broke off, began damaging private property, and earned the attention of law enforcement personnel.

According to the New York Times, it was a bit more than a splinter group, and more than 56 were arrested.

Thousands of protesters, many of them demonstrating against the war in Iraq, marched on Monday through the streets outside the arena where the Republican National Convention is being held, with some smashing windows and battling with the police in clashes that led to more than 250 arrests.

Not unlike the questions which arose in the sixties, one could ask if the police in Minneapolis started the problem with their heavy-handed approach. The internet was aswarm with stories of pre-emptive raids on peaceful groups of would-be demonstrators. And if the so-called anarchists came planning to make trouble, could it not be explained by the police-state tactics of the federal government over the last decade or so? Some believe that when the government is oppressive, the people have an obligation to respond forcefully.

Daisy wrote about demonstrations on her wonderful blog, Daisy's Dead Air, which was cross posted at Feministe, where she's been a guest blogger. She concluded her account of personal demonstration experience with the following thoughts and questions.

I have seen precious little coverage of any demonstrations in Denver. Are activists saving their ire for John McCain and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis? One can only hope. Or are demonstrations simply not the happening thing these days? Why do you think that is? Certainly, we didn’t have blogs and the internets to broadcast our POVs in those days. Climbing up on the proverbial soapbox, starting a picket line or writing commentary in alternative newspapers were our only outlets.

Well, it certainly looks like some of the activists turned out for McCain, at least according to the mainstream media. One interesting idea that came out of Daisy's post is that perhaps the activists of today are more likely to be found in front of a keyboard than on a picket line. For decades the question has been asked did the sixties activism have any lasting effect on society? Or was it inexorably absorbed and crushed by the increasingly-powerful government? Will today's anti-establishment voices be heard any better through the new media at their disposal?

What do you think?


  1. It is not surprising that police are practicing pre-emptive arrests on would be protestors. The police force in America is just taking its cue, (and orders) from the capitalist owners of society who launched their own pre-emptive strike in the international setting.

  2. I still find it funny that leftists think the right is fascist while they have no problems destroying private property like nazi brown shirts, property not even related to or owned by the events and people they are protesting, as often as not.

    Hypocrisy anyone?

    How many Republicans damaged private property in protest in Denver? Somewhere between zero and none?

  3. pepper spray?

    at the RNC?

    that just sounds crazy to me!

  4. Mike,

    I wonder about the cause effect relationship here also. The troublemakers are going to do whatever it takes to provoke the police, wouldn't you agree? It's their reason for being there, being in the spotlight.

    I think the overreaction of the police is because they have found out the protesters will continue until met with overwhelming force. Almost an escalation race.

    I think the police would be better off using other tactics. Let the protesters sit in the streets or parks all they want. The media wants sound bites and vid clips that lasts seconds. How much air time will a protest get if there is nothing but police standing around a group?

    Also, consider the differences in control between the two conventions. In Denver, protests were limited to a very small area behind the media tent; away from the public viewing.

  5. I hope and pray the Democrats will win this election and reverse some of the viscious cycles that have been in motion which bring out the worst in people.

  6. On the contrary, I hope "The Worst In People" don't gain power in this election.

  7. Mike,

    When you talk about the viciousness in people, are you talking about the incredibly galling personal attacks on Sarah Palin and her family?

    I'm active in discussions at a site called OneUtah.org and I see this often. Some of us want to talk about the issues but too often it devolves into personal attacks. It happens on both sides I'll admit.

    Frankly, the only difference I see in both main parties is which rights they want to take away from us first.

  8. I didn't follow either convention, but right now I've been reading about activists attempting to disrupt key note Republican speakers and having to be removed by convention security.

    Did any of this happen durring the DNC?