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August 18, 2004 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Go ahead, just sign it. You can trust us. NY's Mayor Bloomberg offers hotel and museum discounts to protesters as long as they are peaceful. And all they have to do is sign up, add a few personal details and voila! voluntary cointelpro. And I'm sure we can trust Mike with that list. Oh well, at least there's other perks.
posted by lumpenprole (69 comments total)

 
Dammit, you just beat me to posting this. ;)

This is absolutely hilarious. Not just because the typical right-winger is going to make some "negotiating with terrorists" line within an hour of this FPP having been made, but because of the sheer ignorance from Bloomberg and the GOP about why protestors are coming to New York in droves.

Let's face it: Bloomberg has basically admitted that he's both scared shitless of how many angry people are going to be in New York for his dumbfuck decision to allow the GOP's 9/11 necrophilia-fest, and follwed it up by proving he has no idea how to handle it, his only option other than getting more cops now being to apparently offer protestors ice cream for being really good boys and girls.

Oh, yeah. Four years of pain, death, and economic hardship. Ahhhh, fuck it, free Onion Bursts!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:48 AM on August 18, 2004


But Mr. Bloomberg conceded yesterday that not everyone who wore a button would be strictly vetted for his or her peacefulness. "Unfortunately, we can't stop an anarchist from getting a button," he said, though he doubted any of them would want to wear one.

Damn anarchists anyway.
posted by damnitkage at 6:56 AM on August 18, 2004


I say any anarchist worth her salt would be covered in the buttons while crashing the conventions site.
posted by divrsional at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2004


"anarchist=liberal in a leather jacket" - Boyd Rice.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 AM on August 18, 2004


and ....Love Me, I'm a Liberal.
posted by jonmc at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2004


It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach. - Bloomberg

What the hell is he thinking? I have visions of, "Let them eat cake have free coupons!" I am pretty sure that the crowds who are coming to NYC to protest have no desire to go to Olive Garden or fucking Applebees. How insulting! On one side you have a large group proclaiming the need for change, and on the other freaking coupons! COUPONS! On the other hand, the Whitney does have a good show going on now. I wonder if city residents are eligible? I say all NYC MeFi's have a predetermined rally point, so that when/if it happens we can all meet to form a new, better society.
posted by plemeljr at 7:16 AM on August 18, 2004


Wait, does quoting Boyd Rice trigger Godwin's law or not? I'm confused.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:16 AM on August 18, 2004


we can all meet to form a new, better society

*shudders*
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:20 AM on August 18, 2004


I am pretty sure that the crowds who are coming to NYC to protest have no desire to go to Olive Garden or fucking Applebees. How insulting!

plemeljr, my man, I know you were being satirical, but that sentence is a neat encapsulation of what I find alienating about modern-day leftism: "not only do we have better politics than you, we have better taste, and we don't need coupons."

As far as the Bloomberg thing goes, it's a farce. You wanna insure peaceful protests, maybe the groups should go directly to the police and say "Look, we'll keep it peaceful if you do." I doubt that the average cop is that thrilled with either Bush or Bloomberg, he just wants to do his job with a minnumum of bullshit for the most part.
posted by jonmc at 7:24 AM on August 18, 2004


Discount at the Pokemon Store? Are they out of their minds? All this program needs is a discount to the Cruel Food Emporium and Chastity Belts 'R' Us.
posted by mkultra at 7:34 AM on August 18, 2004


Jon, I am pretty sure that Anarchists/Greens/Anti-globalists won't want to eat at Applebees, seeing that Applebees (for them) represents all that is wrong with the world. This is just another example of the protesters not being taken seriously as a legitimate voice. Anyone with two whits about them would realize that Olive Garden in Times Square is not somewhere where anti-globalists would want to eat. I think that is what is insulting, the fact that Central Park is closed because of the grass, but here, have your coupons and please shut up and be quiet. As if coupons could make up for those currently in power. As for the "new, better society," that was a joke. I am not sure why this makes me so mad, but it does. As for modern leftism, I agree, sometimes the holier-than-thou attitude is annoying, but you get that from anyone who thinks they are right (talk to any fundamentalist).
posted by plemeljr at 7:41 AM on August 18, 2004


the sheer ignorance from Bloomberg and the GOP about why protestors are coming to New York in droves.... Bloomberg has basically admitted that he's both scared shitless of how many angry people are going to be in New York for his dumbfuck decision

I disagree.

Bloomberg is pretty far outside the GOP machine, and I doubt this is some coordinated strategy. Bloomberg is a lifelong democrat who switched parties so he could run. They also aren't terribly happy with him after he uninvited Bob Ney to a fundraising dinner (over that jackass trying to direct anti-terrorism funds to his midwestern state).

I doubt Bloomberg actually thinks this is going to pacify any of the bandana-wearing set, he's doing it because it's the bloomberg way -- these people are all just tourists with money to spend in the city.
posted by malphigian at 7:42 AM on August 18, 2004


I originally didn't like them either when I first heard aout them, but Applebees' ribs are really good. I like eating'em with ranch dressing. You really should try them out sometime. Most people I know like their wings too, which are also good with ranch.
posted by lotsofno at 7:46 AM on August 18, 2004


that Olive Garden in Times Square is not somewhere where anti-globalists would want to eat

Not to mention that's about the worst Olive Garden going.
posted by sudama at 7:49 AM on August 18, 2004


If only the Romanovs had thought of this.

That's pretty funny.
posted by milovoo at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2004


If anyone believes that Applebees "represents all that is wrong with the world", I think it speaks volumes about their perspective.
posted by dhoyt at 7:53 AM on August 18, 2004


As for modern leftism, I agree, sometimes the holier-than-thou attitude is annoying, but you get that from anyone who thinks they are right (talk to any fundamentalist).

Agreed. I just don't think we should try to out-asshole the assholes. As a left-leaning person who's been known to enjoy the occassional wings-and-beer combo at Applebee's (although even I think Olive Garden sucks), I find the attitude annoying, too. But the Greens & anti-globalism set already have their minds made up about Bush & the war. A large chunk of the rest of the country is on the fence and maybe they need to be actively courted, cos every warm body counts.

And I appreciate your anger at this idea, because it is a bit ridiculous. I think my idea to approach law enforcement directly has some merit. Right now they're pissed at Bloomberg & Bush for constantly using them as moral props while refusing pay raises and closing firehouses, so that's a good window of opportunity. If these groups could drop their anti-cop biases and say "Look, let's keep this all non-violent and above board: you don't bust our heads, we wont scream 'Pigs!' at you." then there'd be a couple good outcomes: one: no violence at the protests, two: the anti-bush movement makes an important alliance, three: we gain the moral high ground to anyone watching, "wow, they are non violent!"

Just an idea.
posted by jonmc at 7:57 AM on August 18, 2004


Jon, I totally agree with the whole "treat cops as the humans they are" idea. I am constantly dismayed at why people can get so angry at people who are just doing their (dangerous) job. Sure, there are bad apples, but to blame all law enforcement is dumb. And it is playing right into the media and Conservatives view that all the left wants to do is to break things. I mean, how many times has Chicago '68 been brought up in the last year or WTO? I think until the Left wakes up and rethinks the theoretical underpinnings of the movement, the movement will still be at a disadvantage. I mean, the basis for progressivism is empathy for human beings. That is why social security, medicare, fair tax system, health care, fair wages, etc are so important. I really would have wished that during the convention some headway would be made to review what it really means to be a progressive. But I am not sure that those in attendance would be up for something like that.
posted by plemeljr at 8:08 AM on August 18, 2004


They could just take a play from Boston's playbook and build a big cage. A big Thunderdome maybe? Put all of the protesters in there, left and right. I would pay to sit ring side and watch that show.
posted by a3matrix at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2004


I really would have wished that during the convention some headway would be made to review what it really means to be a progressive.

Agreed. Believe it or not, that's what I'm usually trying to do when I'm on my tirades. It's all out of love, really.

I honestly blame some of the more infantile displays of the left on the youth of some of the participants. Youthful idealism and hunger for rebellion are big draws, and honestlt that's great. So is intellectual appeal for thinking people. But when the issues are as grave as they are know, other approaches are needed. So, I think the left needs to get in touch with it's populist side.
posted by jonmc at 8:16 AM on August 18, 2004


I remember going to a protest against the first gulf war. I had high hopes, but things got strange. Speakers prattled on about side issues like Israel/Palestine and sweatshops, which no doubt are important, but destroyed the focus. Others threw race-bait into the crowd; one woman said "Are you white folks here because you care about the struggle or because your cousin got sent overseas?" with a sneer. People made a point of burning flags.

This all sent the complete wrong message to any observer and left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Except for one speaker, a black Vietnam Vet missing a leg who spoke of the futility of warfare and the losses it had inflicted on him. At one point he looked at the mounted police surrounding the event and said "Some of you cops were probably in 'Nam. I'm wonderin' why you ain't here with us."

That's what we need, outreach, attempts to understand all points of veiw so maybe we can get others to understand ours.
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on August 18, 2004


Here are the actual discounts, if anyone's interested. I'm still bringing canned food.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2004


Meanwhile, the FBI has questioned dozens of demonstrators planning to come to New York for the Republican convention later this month and encouraged agents to scour protest groups for evidence of any planned disruptions.
posted by mr.marx at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2004


That discounts list is very interesting. $5 off the Museum of Sex for peaceful protesters? Or you can go to Our Name Is Mud, make yourself some personalized ceramic plates and mugs at a discount, and then throw them at the candidates! Of course, you won't be a "Peaceful Protester" anymore, but hey, fuck it, cheap plates!

And malphigian, you're totally right about Bloomberg. He's being pragmatic abuot this. If the protesters are coming anyway, then let's see if they can leave a few extra bucks behind if they've got them. The data collection is not the central reason for this (though I'm sure others are paying closer attention to that data), and frankly, I bet he's ambivalent at best about the disruption the convention will bring versus the money and attention.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to applaud his foresight, but I see his approach, and fiscally (always Bloomberg's strongest point), it makes sense.
posted by chicobangs at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2004


jonmc: If these groups could drop their anti-cop biases and say "Look, let's keep this all non-violent and above board: you don't bust our heads, we wont scream 'Pigs!' at you." then there'd be a couple good outcomes: one: no violence at the protests, two: the anti-bush movement makes an important alliance, three: we gain the moral high ground to anyone watching, "wow, they are non violent!"

Hi jon, mark here, (dame's friend from the last meetup, first post!) couple questions for you.

1. When you say non-violent, do you also mean only participate in permitted demonstrations?
2. What do you actually mean by non-violent? No violent actions against a human being? or do you mean more than that?
3. I have not heard one organizer of any demonstration, permitted or not, say that their demo is going to be anything but non-violent. Even the A31, the umbrella group helping organizing a day of Direct Action on the 31st has made it clear they don't want any sort of violence on that day. They aren't even speaking the shut it down language so prevalent at anti-globalization protests. So here is my question, is that enough for your proposal, and if not, what are your concrete ideas on how they could do more?

I guess my main question is how do you expect organizers to do more than say they want the protests to be peaceful. Simple statements will not be enough for the police. There is so much mutual distrust right now between the groups, that from my experience the cops will just think it is just a trojan horse for them "crazy anarchists."

If your suggestion is the protestors only participate in permitted demonstrations, and always stay in the pens then we got more to talk about.

Glad to finally have a post here, thanks to dame, jonmc, languagehat, mathowie and whoever else vouched for me to get an account.

Also, here is another article about the peaceful protestor marketing plan, but with a little more attitude, N.Y. Mayor To War Protesters: Shop Till You Drop, Too
posted by lips at 8:53 AM on August 18, 2004


As someone who went to the philadelphia convention in 2000, I think now I just might go to New York so I can say I'm there to protest and then take in all the museums I didn't get to see the last times I've been to Gotham.
posted by drezdn at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2004


2. What do you actually mean by non-violent? No violent actions against a human being? or do you mean more than that?

I'd say no violence to humans. No destruction of private property. Probably a good faith promise not to bait violence (screaming 'Pigs', flg burning * etc) might not be a bad idea. And while I'm sure most organizers don't want violence either, there's always yo-yo's and idiots in every large group and maybe the leaders of those groups ought to do their best to keep them in line, so intentions don't go awry.

If your suggestion is the protestors only participate in permitted demonstrations, and always stay in the pens then we got more to talk about.

Nah. I think people gotta remain true to what they believe. I honestly think the authoritues would be somewhat stunned by the idea of mutual respect. I mean it's not like NYC have never encountered unusual ideas before. They just wanna keep order.

Hell, I'm willing to bet there's a contingent of cops who are against the war. Maybe you could invite them to join you. Wouldn't that be something?

*walks off singing War's "Why Can't We Be Freinds?"*

*I realize flag-burning is free-speech and that ideally it should be a non-issue, but it provokes a gut response in people that is really counter-productive, so tactically speaking, I say discourage it. Wave flags instead.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2004


If anyone believes that Applebees "represents all that is wrong with the world", I think it speaks volumes about their perspective.

Not to derail, but I'm going to pick up this gauntlet.

NYC is probably the culinary capital of the world. We're a port city, with access to tremendous locally-grown ingredients as well. A number of reasonably-priced restaurants turn out original, high-quality meals with high-quality ingredients, developed through the skill and creativity of independent chefs.

Applebee's, on the other hand, serves up unhealthy, over-sized, over-priced portions of mediocre food. They leverage their power as a large company to undercut local producers, and bring in their ingredients from outside the regional area, often at the expense of quality. And they treat their employees only as well as they legally have to.

So yeah, the Applebee's, TGI Friday's, and Olive Garden's of the world can all go fuck themselves. Every meal they sell because they buy prime real estate and advertize like gangbusters is a meal that a local merchant doesn't sell. Fuck them.
posted by mkultra at 9:12 AM on August 18, 2004


Wave flags, burn people.

That's the OTHER side's policy, jonmc...
posted by rushmc at 9:14 AM on August 18, 2004


Also, I think a lot of stupid shit that happens at protests has to do with the nature of large crowds. People in large groups who have a common purpose can get riled up, especially if there's alcohol around. And it dosen't matter if the crowd is at a rock concert, a protest or a football game. People can get out of hand. That's why the cops are there in the first place, and I imagine that nothings scarier than a huge crowd about to get out of control, especially to the person who's sworn duty it is to keep in control. So overreation happens and then everybody get swallowed up into the chaos, particpants, cops, and bystanders.
posted by jonmc at 9:15 AM on August 18, 2004


Nice strawman, rush. I was merely making the "dissent is patriotic point," but if you wanna put words in my mouth, you go right ahead.
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on August 18, 2004


Applebees.

"...buttons that bear a fetching rendition of the Statue of Liberty..."

Am I the only one who's thinking "fifteen pieces of flair" here?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2004


I'd say no violence to humans. No destruction of private property. Probably a good faith promise not to bait violence (screaming 'Pigs', flg burning * etc) might not be a bad idea. And while I'm sure most organizers don't want violence either, there's always yo-yo's and idiots in every large group and maybe the leaders of those groups ought to do their best to keep them in line, so intentions don't go awry.

Amen....although no one enjoys the good smell of burning flags (of nations, in general) in the morning more than I. Smells like....victory.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2004


This sentence from the article made me chuckle:
The Republicans get "Rent," the people who oppose them get "Tony n' Tina's Wedding."
I do wonder who gets the data. (And if they catch you throwing a trash can through a Starbucks' window, do they arrest you? Or just take away your button and your Broadway tickets?)

(on preview: Hi Mark! Glad to see you made it.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2004


there's always yo-yo's and idiots in every large group and maybe the leaders of those groups ought to do their best to keep them in line, so intentions don't go awry

First of all, protest "organizers", when they can be said to exist at all, have no control over who shows up. This has provided some convenient villains, when various street people use the protest as an excuse to come out from under the bridges and smash a few windows. Your Volvo-driving sandalista who represents the genuine protest isn't responsible for this stuff, is taking time off from his job to be there and is not responsible for this shit.

Second, it is hardly unknown for opposing groups and even the police to plant agents provacateurs to make trouble, start fights, provoke cops (or pretend to in staged incidents) in order to damn the protest in the eyes of the media and the fence-sitters and get the whole thing reclassed in the public mind as an anarchist riot. Seattle was an immense PR victory over the protestors this way -- people who've seen nothing but spun reports and carefully selected footage talk about the Seattle "Riots" precisely as if they knew what they were talking about.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2004


I don't doubt that the agent provacateur theory is entirely possible in many cases* and that the media can spin stuff, but don't piss in my ear and tell me it's raining either, george. There are organized activist groups at any protest and they can take some responsibility for how things go.

Peaceful protests can and do happen all the time and that is often thanks to the sane behavior of both protestors and cops. It's called being civilized.

*but not all, blaming "evil outsiders" for every bad incident that happens at a protest goes past the bounds of credibility and smacks of paranoia, just like when cops assume protestors are all out to get them.
posted by jonmc at 9:55 AM on August 18, 2004


Get a free magic marker from Kroll Office Products when you present your Peaceful Political Activist badge. Now, there's something useful!
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 9:58 AM on August 18, 2004


Perhaps I'm a bit confused, but where does it say that you have to give personal information in order to get a button? You can go to nycvisit.com and print out a "Peaceful Political Activists Savings Card" that comes with all privileges of the buttons without signing anything or giving out any information about yourself. Can someone elaborate on this for me?
posted by HiddenInput at 10:15 AM on August 18, 2004


Or to make a couple of different analogies:

Go to your neighborhood bar, 95% of the people are there to drink a beer and hang out, but there'll sometimes be an asshole there looking for trouble. At a punk show there's people there because they dig the music and the scene, but there's always the jerkoff who sees the mosh pit as an opportunity to grope women and fuck people up.

Protests aren't any different. It's not a matter of politics it's a matter of human behavior. The woods are full of assholes of all stripes.
posted by jonmc at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2004


That's why the cops are there in the first place

If you really believe that, then you are even more naive than I thought (and haven't been paying attention over the past couple of years, in particular).
posted by rushmc at 10:17 AM on August 18, 2004


Hey jonmc,

i still think you missed my question.
you said:
If these groups could drop their anti-cop biases and say "Look, let's keep this all non-violent and above board: you don't bust our heads, we wont scream 'Pigs!' at you." then there'd be a couple good outcomes: one: no violence at the protests
then said:
People in large groups who have a common purpose can get riled up, especially if there's alcohol around. And it doesn't matter if the crowd is at a rock concert, a protest or a football game. People can get out of hand.

These two statements seem mutually exclusive to me. On one hand you say if the organizers organize non-violently they can make people behave non-violently in highly charged chaotic events. Then on the other hand you say people in large groups inherently can get out of hand. Sure everybody who goes to the organizing meeting may agree to the groups operating principles, but a lot more people come to demos than the people who organize them and i just don't see how you can make them behave in one way or another.

Maybe i'm just looking at your points too pragmatically. I am completely in the middle of all this, and probably understand more than most all of the different types of groups planning protests. I'm not organizing any demos myself (errr errr errr, withhold urge to plug my collective's website, i'm assuming that's not ok? or am i wrong?), but i attend more meetings and talk to more people from different groups than i can handle. I want to see real ideas to make the type of transcendental protests you seem to be talking about. But unfortunately that involves more than just saying you want the protests to be some way. And i don't see any way of actually enforcing the ideas you talk about. Enforcing those ideas for EVERYBODY in the streets. That is what i'm trying to get at, sure your proposed goal is great, but what are the tactics to get it?

And then from the other side, i just don't believe that the police will ever come to the point of transcendence you talk about. I've seen and heard about too many demos (usually large scale anti-globalization protests) where the protestors who organize themselves in extreme non-violent ways (even to the point of handing over protestors to cops) are the first ones to be attacked by the cops. Usually because in other areas of the demo, protestors (who have no problem defending themselves and their fellow protestors) weren't following the rules and confrontations occurred. And from what i've experienced, cops take out their frustrations on those who don't fight back. The little devil's advocate in my head imagines a response to this, "well just make sure no violence occurs at all. " But unfortunately, enforcing ethical behavior on EVERYONE just seems to utopic too me.

Sorry if i was repetitive or off topic here, but i want answers. Not that i expect there are any easy ones, but utopic visions don't do me much good right now.
posted by lips at 10:22 AM on August 18, 2004


mark, if had the absolute answer to all of that I'd be thanking the Nobel Academy instead of typing my little spews between sips of coffee and actual work.

One idea might to be to focus on the protests at the RNC on the main issue of the Bush presidency-the War. The demographic of people against the war at this point includes everybody from little old church ladies to flat-out smash-the-state anarchists. That's a pretty big tent. First step would be to keep it cool with eachother and like I said, maybe approaching law enforcement might not be a bad idea, maybe even take your declarations public, so that everybody's held to their word.

The observation about crowds was just that, an observation, and a way to stress that the forces at work in these situations are not just political.

Again, I don't have any answers and I'm probably know less about these things than a lotta people but next time your in the 'hood I'll buy ya a mojito at Fatty's and we can keep arguing.

And oh yeah, welcome to MeFi. Your initiation begins shortly.

I've got the butterscotch, now where did I leave the enema bag....
posted by jonmc at 10:36 AM on August 18, 2004


Protesting at the GOP convention? Legal observers have your back.

At the barricades.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 AM on August 18, 2004


These two statements seem mutually exclusive to me. On one hand you say if the organizers organize non-violently they can make people behave non-violently in highly charged chaotic events. Then on the other hand you say people in large groups inherently can get out of hand. Sure everybody who goes to the organizing meeting may agree to the groups operating principles, but a lot more people come to demos than the people who organize them and i just don't see how you can make them behave in one way or another.

There were tons of non-violence workshops at the WTO that were "sponsored" by the people who were renting the meeting spaces for the protesters to eat/work/plan. They did a lot of non-violence work that went largely unappreciated. 75-95% of everyone there protesting [including a ton of anarchists] were non-violent. That includes most all the unions that were there, most all the peace advocates, most all the subculture tourists and most all of the people who lived there. Not like you saw that on TV. Of course, this contrasts to the massive anti-Iraq war protests that were [to the best of my recollection] 100% non-violent and you see the difference. Many people -- at protests and otherwise -- feel that it's not their place to get between an angry person breaking something and the object of their wrath, especially if it's not another person. I realize it's a nice idea to say that people in charge should reign those people in, but realistically a) there's no one in charge, many of these people do not know each other, and b) it's generally not safe to do so, in many cases. Once people start being violent against people, you'll see more people move in to help, whether it's cop-on-protestor or protestor-on-cop.

The policemen are there for their jobs; they have specific laws that they are supposed to uphold, even if people are hollering at them and calling them names. This is, I realize, also somewhat unrealistic, but let's just point out that in many high profile cases, they're not much better at their jobs than protestors are at their "jobs" The issue is that there's a lot more leeway for starting shit if you are a protestor, there's a lot less if you are a cop. Cops have rules to uphold, protestors by-and-large, don't, except they need to suffer consequences if they do stuff like break the law.

When I got back from the DNC someone who is working security at the upcoming RNC asked me what my advice was in terms of preparing National Guardsmen to deal with lots of angry hostile protesters. Part of my advice had to do with seeing them as people who don't necessarily "hate america" but are definitely exercising their right to protest. Part of it was learning how to play the "I'm the Mom here" role and take the moral high ground when dealing with people who are being awful, and try hard to not be awful back. Part of it was not esclating a situation which I see protestors and cops do, but at least the protestors aren't being paid to do it. A big part of it was not putting cops in untenable situations where they're already pissed and upset about their jobs [no food/bathroom breaks, exhausted, no clear orders, unworkable orders]. We'll see if any of that helps anyone.

Back on topic, this whole coupon thing is silly. Bloomberg's snide categorization of anarchists isn't super helpful, and yeah anarchists would likely sneer at Applebee's coupons and museum coupons as just pandering anyhow. Giving anti-capitalists coupons is missing the point, it has nothing to do with taste.
posted by jessamyn at 11:03 AM on August 18, 2004


May I nominate the above comment (jessamyn's, in case someone slips in between preview and post) for a sidebar link on the front page? Does one go to Metatalk to do this, or write Matt?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:16 AM on August 18, 2004


mark, if had the absolute answer to all of that I'd be thanking the Nobel Academy instead of typing my little spews between sips of coffee and actual work.

I don't expect anybody to have the absolute answers, it's just when you first proposed yours you seemed to think it would work. I just wanted to find out how you would make it work. i'm desperate to find out ways that do.


One idea might to be to focus on the protests at the RNC on the main issue of the Bush presidency-the War. The demographic of people against the war at this point includes everybody from little old church ladies to flat-out smash-the-state anarchists. That's a pretty big tent.

yeah, that tent is already in place, the diversity of people organizing and looking for ways to plug in is absolutely wonderful, i've talked and helped support people from all backgrounds, be it race, age, or class. I think this may be the most diverse protest in this nation's history.


First step would be to keep it cool with each other

unfortunately, keeping it cool with each other also means not making blanket statements telling other people how to organize, and that also means there really can't be any umbrella type organizing body that will tell and enforce people how they should act in the streets. Thats why i kept on pressing you to figure out how you proposed to make everyone agree to your proposals.

and like I said, maybe approaching law enforcement might not be a bad idea, maybe even take your declarations public, so that everybody's held to their word.

agreed, if the cops and firefighters announce demos protesting the way homeland security money is handed out (they said they will be doing this,) i'll be on the front lines with them. Probably never happen, but can you imagine the black block protesting alongside cops? That would be something i'd like to see for sure.

plus, there have been mulitple press conferences, even by anarchists, saying they aren't looking for violence, the press covered them, and then went right back to "Anarchists are coming to destroy our city" stories

The observation about crowds was just that, an observation, and a way to stress that the forces at work in these situations are not just political.

i agree completely, that is why a political, top-down solution to making people "behave" in the streets seems so unobtainable to me

Again, I don't have any answers and I'm probably know less about these things than a lotta people but next time your in the 'hood I'll buy ya a mojito at Fatty's and we can keep arguing.

would absolutely love it, and don't mistake my quest for answers as disrespect towards those that don't have them, i'm just an engineer and a problem solver and my desires are to find workable solutions.


And oh yeah, welcome to MeFi. Your initiation begins shortly.

I've got the butterscotch, now where did I leave the enema bag....


gulp...


p.s. thanks for the welcome vidiot!
posted by lips at 11:50 AM on August 18, 2004


I wonder if I'm along in thinking the protests are going to end up a total zero? They'll have their little shouting sessions, get a little screen time for the more colorful (blue haired grannies on the one hand, commies and Arafat lovers on the other) and be otherwise ignored. No rioting, but no persuasion, either. Unquestionably Bush haters will make more a difference registering voters at the prison exit gates or other prime sources of Democrats.
posted by MattD at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2004


Hi jessamyn,

good post

There were tons of non-violence workshops at the WTO that were "sponsored" by the people who were renting the meeting spaces for the protesters to eat/work/plan. They did a lot of non-violence work that went largely unappreciated.

The majority of that work is awesome work, confrontation descalation is such an important skill to have, be it in the streets or in the home. But some of these people scare me (might not be the ones you are talking about) because they encourage handing over "bad" protestors to the cops. I'm not a big fan of property destruction, but the idea of trying to do a citizens arrest over somebody breaking a corporate window just doesn't sit right with me. I have no problem with dialoging and trying to tell people why you don't think it is a good idea, but handing people over to the police is not a way to change people's minds.

75-95% of everyone there protesting [including a ton of anarchists] were non-violent. That includes most all the unions that were there, most all the peace advocates, most all the subculture tourists and most all of the people who lived there. Not like you saw that on TV. Of course, this contrasts to the massive anti-Iraq war protests that were [to the best of my recollection] 100% non-violent and you see the difference.

I'm confused what the difference is you are talking about, do you mean why one had violenct and the other didn't? If so what do you think caused the lack of violence? In my opinion, the difference was in Seattle it was a "shut it down" type protest, while for the anti-war protests it was "lets make our disagreement visible" kind of thing. Big difference in mentality there.

The only confrontations i saw during the anti-war marches were because of crowds that were treated like cattle by the cops (and city policy.) Of the two major demonstrations in New York, the first one had a lot of scuffles (including some "ordinary" New Yorkers who couldn't believe the cops and the city would limit their freedom of assembly) because of massive pens and the divide and conquer mentality of the cops. The second protest was almost completely free of any confrontation because there were no protest pens and people were free to go where they pleased. The difference in moods between the two events was remarkable

I realize it's a nice idea to say that people in charge should reign those people in, but realistically a) there's no one in charge, many of these people do not know each other, and b) it's generally not safe to do so, in many cases. Once people start being violent against people, you'll see more people move in to help, whether it's cop-on-protestor or protestor-on-cop.

Very nicely put.

The issue is that there's a lot more leeway for starting shit if you are a protestor, there's a lot less if you are a cop.

i think it's a little less black and white than this, a cop acting out of line in a violent confrontation with a protestor is much less likely to get in trouble for it than the protestor. No matter who started it. It is very rare that a policeman gets in trouble for their actions in a large demo.

anyways, thanks for contributing to a worthwhile (for me at least) discussion
posted by lips at 12:23 PM on August 18, 2004


Damn,

this metafilter thing gets addictive

Mattd:I wonder if I'm along in thinking the protests are going to end up a total zero?

In my opinion the protests have already been successful. The diversity of groups working together on this protest has never been seen before. Not just the warm fuzzy kind of diversity, but people really working together to support everyone. I think the RNC coming to New York was one of the best things to ever happen to the Social Justice Movement here. And i don't think this is temporary, the kind of social networks that have been built will last a long time. Maybe we won't defeat bush in the election, but Kerry winning would only alleviate problems faced by normal New Yorkers, not solve them. The only long term change is going to happen because people take responsibilities for their own problems, and work together with other people to make real change, irregardless of who is in office. And i think we took some major steps towards that goal.
posted by lips at 12:44 PM on August 18, 2004


Well, maybe it's a matter of listening to the rhetoric of people and trying to set straight those protestors who think "anarchy" means busting windows and fucking shit up. Will it stop things? Who knows? But it might at least not encourage it.
posted by jonmc at 12:45 PM on August 18, 2004


Well, I was gonna go set a cop car on fire, but..... mmmmm..... free riblets......
posted by spilon at 1:05 PM on August 18, 2004


Lips, wow, something that the protest movement and I are in full agreement on: the social justice movement rallying to for people to "take responsibilities for their own problems" I can just feel the "movement's" hands leaving my pockets!
posted by MattD at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2004


The policemen are there for their jobs

Actually, they might not be there. The NYPD contract dispute is heating up lately (New York police and firefighters have been working without a contract for the last two years). Some cops have been stalking Bloomberg's press secretary lately, chanting "Watch your back," and "We know where you live." The police union is threatening some kind of "job action" during the convention -- possibly even an illegal strike.

Terrorist threat, cops on strike, and protestors hopped up on Applebee's mozzarella sticks -- it could be...the perfect storm of protests.
posted by eatitlive at 1:48 PM on August 18, 2004


i think it's a little less black and white than this, a cop acting out of line in a violent confrontation with a protestor is much less likely to get in trouble for it than the protestor. No matter who started it. It is very rare that a policeman gets in trouble for their actions in a large demo.

This is a pretty important point as well. If you go to a protest, there's a greater than zero chance you will get hassled/arrested -- even if you are completely non-violent and standing there with your "give peace a chance" sign -- under the "wrong place, wrong time, annoyed police" clause. The charges will probably get dropped, but it still gets you off the street for the remainder of the event with a basically zero chance of filing a useful false arrest claim. The whole "it was crazy out there" line seems to get a lot of policemen off the hook for a lot of bad behvior.

My whole point about violence [which I'd happily email you about, lips, if you had any info in your profile] is that there's rarely much of it, it gets escalated by feelings of injustice on the part of the protestors and the police, it has very little to do with anarchism [and would have less to do with it if the media weren't hellbent on their "Self-proclaimed anarchist" titling of any yahoo with a black sweatshirt and a brick] and it's a footnote -- although a much-repeated, much-hyped footnote -- to a lot of the other work that goes on at protests and at major political events like this. In a society that thrives on fear, scary actions make the papers much more than the droning speech-after-speech that was going on inside the DNC, but which do you think is more important to most Americans? Which do you think gets more column inches and more airtime?

As far as these idiot buttons...
The city contends that it wants to give as warm a welcome to protesters as to delegates. "Most times, people try to keep protesters from coming," the mayor said, "and they certainly don't go out of their way to accommodate them."
I call bullshit on the Mayor for that remark, although maybe you could argue that NYC is happy to see the protestors, but the FBI sure as hell isn't. When the NYC cops are specifically told that there will be protestors "faking police brutality with protesters impersonating cops and beating other protesters" [as if we had that sort of money to spend on cop uniforms, or Applebees for that matter] it just doesn't sound that welcoming.
posted by jessamyn at 1:48 PM on August 18, 2004


I wonder if protestors would sign up if the perk was that they got to protest 100 yards from the actual convention?
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:07 PM on August 18, 2004


Well, the New Yorker Hotel is part of the perk package, and it's just around the corner from the Garden.
posted by eatitlive at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2004


The police union is threatening some kind of "job action" during the convention -- possibly even an illegal strike.

I wouldn't put too big of a bet on that happening. They did the same thing in Boston for the dems convention. They're using it as the threat to resolve their contract disputes. Harry Shearer noted that all the cops at the convention were really cheerful and polite. Guess that new pension plan really put a smile on their faces.....
posted by lumpenprole at 3:16 PM on August 18, 2004


jessamyn :My whole point about violence [which I'd happily email you about, lips, if you had any info in your profile] is that there's rarely much of it, it gets escalated by feelings of injustice on the part of the protestors and the police, it has very little to do with anarchism [and would have less to do with it if the media weren't hellbent on their "Self-proclaimed anarchist" titling of any yahoo with a black sweatshirt and a brick

really well put for protests here in the states

other places in the world are a little different, but here you are right in that there isn't that much violence in the streets. in the jails after protestors get snatched is another story for another day

for me it's not really the actual violence in the streets that makes me think about this issue, its how it gets played out in the press and in people's minds. For good and bad.

anyways, time to leave work, and once again, glad to have you share your thoughts, my email address is now up by the way
posted by lips at 4:00 PM on August 18, 2004


go crazy--here's the card. (it's all you need for the discounts)
I hear that tourists are smart enough to stay away that week, and the Republicans are going to be at private events all week, so hotels (not filled by the Repubs) are hurting, along with restaurants, etc. (it's a pitiful list of discounts, especially since it's aimed at people not coming to the city as tourists. Is it still Giuliani's old girlfriend running the Tourist Office?) It's a big bust for the city, especially since businesses around Penn Station are closing as well.
posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2004


Unquestionably Bush haters will make more a difference registering voters

I couldn't agree more, which is why I'm devoting myself to doing just that and encourage anyone out there who wants to influence the outcome of the election to do the same.
posted by rushmc at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2004


it's all about the cashola that stories in the press have been saying will not flow for small businesses and broadway shows alike during the convention. desparate to hang onto power and put on a big smile for america, bloomberg is reaching.... hard. cute!

but a national peaceful activist discount program would be great! there'll be a 50% off sale at pier one on election day and dammit, no time to vote.

sorry, sarcastic mood today. please continue.
posted by moonbird at 4:51 PM on August 18, 2004


My nephew, who is living "outside the straight economy" and working serving as a free-lance activist/educator, was at a recent WTO protest that had some unpleasantness.

When he passed through the family for a holiday afterwards, he was telling us the story of a large group of demonstrators who travel from event to event and camp-out and rely on their Leatherman tools for day-to-day camping-type work (I'd be more specific but I've been in the straight economy and living soft for many many years and so have little inthe way of a clue).

As he related the story, these kids were arrested by the police for carrying deadly weapons -- their Leatherman tools.

My thought was: here's an opportunity; why not formally turn the tools over to the police prior to the protest and (politely) ask that the police impound them, care for them, and return them when all is done. Make a media event out of it and make sure to give the police their props and respect.

Flies:Fewer Flies as Honey:Vinegar
Know your platitudes, love your platitudes, work your platitudes...
posted by mmahaffie at 8:34 PM on August 18, 2004


our cops won't return them, mmahaffie, and probably haul the people in for carrying the weapons anyway in a special security zone or some other bs (dependent on how they look/are dressed of course) unfortunately.

And the media spin has already begun about violence, so the question is just whether CNN etc will only cover skirmishes with cops, or the overwhelming majority of protestors, who will be peaceful. (and what Hannity says today, CNN will repeat tomorrow.)
posted by amberglow at 8:48 PM on August 18, 2004


Special Offers for Peaceful Political Activists

Hush Tours
$10 off adult ticket
posted by BentPenguin at 10:42 PM on August 18, 2004


I know, Amberglow, I know. I'm by nature a hopeful person, though, so I at least have to suggest alternatives.

Still, with the media in tow, and Properly briefed, it might make for interesting theatre....
posted by mmahaffie at 3:30 AM on August 19, 2004


"trying to set straight those protestors who think "anarchy" means busting windows and fucking shit up."

That would be nice. But it won't happen that I see. A whole bunch of the people in that "big tent" seem to see protests as a time to take a little vacation from reality and go re-live what they thing were the 60's by breaking windows and sticking it to "the man".

That whole "breaking corporate windows" concept from above is the problem. Sounds a whole lot like the "demonize your enemy" rap they protestors seem to be so against - till they justify trashing some corner store in the name of "fighting capitlism".

Then again, with A.N.S.W.E.R. out in full force (you remember them, the openly anti-democracy pro socialism organization who took advantage of the Iraq protests) you can bet there will be a huge wingnut quotient.
posted by soulhuntre at 4:26 AM on August 19, 2004


Bloomberg to Humorless Socialists: "Lighten up! Didn't you guys, like, invent irony?"
posted by darukaru at 6:41 AM on August 19, 2004


Ok kids, I've got it!

We go to NY. We buy up all the riblets we can afford. Then we stand naked in the streets and rub ourselves all over with Bar B Que sauce. Oooo News footage for days. We can tell the press the red sauce stands for the innocent blood of the Iraqi civilians. And if a riblet or two gets eaten accidentally, that's cool.

Note to Bloomberg: We can turn your coupons into weapons of mass protest!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:18 PM on August 19, 2004


Secret Life of Gravy Saucy : >

NYC to GOP: Drop Dead. Ted Rall tells delegates (our other visitors during the RNC) what they can expect.
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on August 19, 2004


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