Skip

Let's Go Pitt!
September 27, 2009 12:35 PM   Subscribe


 
FWIW -- i'm not posting this out of a political agenda -- I don't even have a clue what the protests were about, but I find the police tactics fascinating -- it's all very sci-fi.
posted by empath at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2009


First step towards eliminating one's own moral authority: Shoving dumpsters at protesters.
Second step: Shouting "What the fuck is wrong with you?!" as many times as you can.

There are real, non-violent protesters at these events frequently. They're never shown on the news and, as a result, anyone who objects to the ways in which international trade hurts the poor is labeled a dangerous commie. We should have higher standards.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


h
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


h
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, that's just eerie.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And *that* is spelled Erie, sir.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


lame.
posted by billybobtoo at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2009


.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2009


Also, the kid that was apparently grabbed by military in an unmarked car? That's a little unnerving.
posted by empath at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


All we are saying
is give peace a chance
posted by Postroad at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2009


Bunch of goddamn ippies.
posted by rokusan at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


First step towards eliminating one's own moral authority: Shoving dumpsters at protesters.

Funny, I saw dumpsters being soved toward the police.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is really a poor posting of what I think is an important story. You haven't given any background or context and you didn't even bother to spell the city's name correctly. I personally am too angry at both the city police and the punk little anarchists to make a coherent post about this myself but someone should make a better post than this.
posted by octothorpe at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


What background do you need? You have punk anarchists, overzealous police, and sightseeing college kids caught in the crossfire. That's all readily apparent from the video.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2009


soved = shoved.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2009


Police fire tear gas indiscriminately, engage in a 20-on-2 attack on some skinny girl and a skinnier dude in dreads, another guy gets spirited away by guys in camo into an unmarked car ... yeah, sorry if I have a hard time feeling outraged about a couple idiots pushing dumpsters and breaking windows. The Black Brigade is always used as the excuse for why police used excessive force in these situations; that a couple bad apples just compelled the police to go apeshit. It shifts the blame from the police and onto everyone at the protest. "If only everyone behaved themselves, the police wouldn't be obligated to wig the fuck out on everyone." So tired of that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2009 [21 favorites]


another guy gets spirited away by guys in camo into an unmarked car

Yeah, that seemed more than a little strange, and the students trapped on the staircase...that wasn't right either.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:03 PM on September 27, 2009


That's like the bit where you get off the train at the start of Half Life 2.
posted by fire&wings at 1:05 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Where?
posted by Zach! at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


if (thispost.lame == true) {
be_annoyed();
stop_reading();
find_better_post()
}
posted by jamstigator at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


QQ more.
posted by autodidact at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2009


C17H19NO3: First step towards eliminating one's own moral authority: Shoving dumpsters at protesters.

Funny, I saw dumpsters being soved toward the police.


Sorry, meant to use the conjunction "by" not "at." Blind rage screws with language processing.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2009


Ah, gotcha.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2009


Clear signs that Obama is not a socialist:

Toledo Star: So, would you have been protesting the G-20 back in your organizing days?

"Probably not," Mr. Obama said when asked if he might have been holding a sign then. "I was always a big believer in - when I was doing organizing before I went to law school - that focusing on concrete, local, immediate issues that have an impact on people's lives is what really makes a difference and that having protests about abstractions [such] as global capitalism or something, generally, is not really going to make much of a difference."

I guess a bunch of finance ministers revamping the IMF and brainstorming global stimulus options is a pretty far cry from "global capitalism." But isn't it cute when the kiddies get out to protest?
posted by puckish at 1:12 PM on September 27, 2009


For context here is some local reporting from the Post-Gazette , The City Paper and the Pitt News. This photo album from Pitt News is very good (and scary).
posted by octothorpe at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Non-violent hug attempt goes very bad."
How cracked out do you have to be to think hugging an amped up riot cop is ever a good idea?

Having been in the midst of violent protests as a member of the media, I've witnessed plenty of police brutality. However, I've witnessed many more acts of stupidity masked as rebellious bravery and I can't feel sorry for anyone who's asking for it. Getting caught in the cross-fire is an unfortunate consequence for riot tourists and members of the media alike, and I can't feel sorry for those parties either.

Professional protesters who use aggressive and violent tactics have no interest in democratic discourse. I've interviewed so many of them who cannot even begin to articulate what and why they are protesting. It's just as disheartening to me as seeing right-wing lunatics disrupt town-hall meetings.

The constitution provides for the right of the people to peaceably assemble and I'm all about that. It's a beautiful thing. Non-violent protest tactics can be powerful and effective when properly employed. Hurling shit at the police just serves to alienate the moderate you'd need to attract if you were serious about effecting change.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


The worst part of this is that it means that Mayor Lukey will be probably be in office for life now. I'm sure the fact that he's up for re-election in a month had something to do with the police over-reaction. He didn't want to look like the hippies got the better of him.
posted by octothorpe at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2009


Professional protesters who use aggressive and violent tactics have no interest in democratic discourse. I've interviewed so many of them who cannot even begin to articulate what and why they are protesting.

I talked to an anarchist friend of mine who got back from Pittsburgh last night and he talked about it like it was a Phish show or something. It's just a big party to him.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2009


That was cool, especially the glowing orbs in the skulls of those riot police.
posted by past at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've interviewed so many of them who cannot even begin to articulate what and why they are protesting.

They're not protesting globalism so much as they're protesting their own lack of attention and relevance.
posted by Avenger at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2009


Professional protesters who use aggressive and violent tactics have no interest in democratic discourse. I've interviewed so many of them who cannot even begin to articulate what and why they are protesting. It's just as disheartening to me as seeing right-wing lunatics disrupt town-hall meetings.

Granted, there are idiots at these things. What bothers me is that these idiots are used as the automatic absolution for police behavior at these events. It seems there's this unwritten rule that everyone participating should be regarded as troublemakers, and anyone stepping out of line is an excuse to radiate a response onto everyone. If someone was spotted shoplifting at a department store, everyone isn't stopped and searched. If someone starts a fight at a public event, the police do not restrain and arrest everyone at the event. Why it should be any different when a couple idiots at an otherwise peaceful protest cross the line is beyond me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


The worst part of this is that it means that Mayor Lukey will be probably be in office for life now. He didn't want to look like the hippies got the better of him.

A good opponent could spin this into A Giant Embarrassment to Pittsburgh, no?
posted by rokusan at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2009




Why it should be any different when a couple idiots at an otherwise peaceful protest cross the line is beyond me.

I am by no means an expert at riot control, but I do know that peaceful protest can turn into full-blown riots very quickly. I am thinking a very aggressive response by the police helps keep the troublemaking few as that...a few.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2009


What bothers me is that these idiots are used as the automatic absolution for police behavior at these events. It seems there's this unwritten rule that everyone participating should be regarded as troublemakers, and anyone stepping out of line is an excuse to radiate a response onto everyone.

Okay, you've got an unlawful assembly where people are vandalizing property and you need to break it up before it turns into a full blown riot. How are you supposed to only teargas the troublemakers and not teargas the people just sightseeing?

If the cops say to disperse, and you don't want to get teargassed, then leave! They seemed to have been giving plenty of warning before they went in.

I really dislike the stormtrooper aesthetic that the cops are going for, but I can't really fault them for their tactics, at least what I saw in the video.

I wish the anarchists would go away, they're doing nothig but feeding their own egos. There's one particular scene from the video where a guy is holding a baseball bat on his porch scared that the anarchists are going to trash his house or his car. That's the guy they're supposedly fighting for, right? Poor, working class, oppressed? He doesn't seem to want the help.
posted by empath at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


MSTPT:
I think perhaps the police tactics for protests are different than the other circumstances you mentioned because most people don't show up to a shopping mall or public event to cause trouble, wreak havoc or make a statement. For protests where the assembled fail to disperse upon request (and the police are almost always so kind as to request) the police go into round-up mode. This is problematic for people who don't disperse fast enough and members of the media. IIRC, there was a successful lawsuit against the NYPD after the '04 RNC when the police rounded up and arrested everyone within a given perimeter but failed to give anyone adequate time to get out.
Police brutality is lame, tear gas sucks, rubber bullets are worse but riled-up crowds are far more dangerous.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2009


A good opponent could spin this into A Giant Embarrassment to Pittsburgh, no?

No, probably not. The incumbent always wins for mayor here; they only leave by dying or retiring. The thing is that there is no opposition party, there hasn't been a non-Democrat mayor (or council person) elected since the nineteen thirties. Generally, the republicans don't even bother to field a candidate. And the independents, there are two this year, always manage to split the opposition vote. So all the mayor as to do is to win the primary and since only the party faithful shows up for primaries, the incumbent always wins.
posted by octothorpe at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2009


I wish the anarchists would go away, they're doing nothig but feeding their own egos. There's one particular scene from the video where a guy is holding a baseball bat on his porch scared that the anarchists are going to trash his house or his car. That's the guy they're supposedly fighting for, right? Poor, working class, oppressed? He doesn't seem to want the help.

I remember seeing some grafitti in a bathroom stall: a circle A with "smash the state!" written under it. Under that, someone else wrote a very long and articulate reponse along the lines of "if you really believe in rising up against the state then why don't you go down to the ghetto and organize the poor?" The anarchists shoot themselves in the foot just by existing.

What I'd like to see - and maybe I'm asking a lot here - is for police to descend upon, restrain and arrest the people actually breaking the law in these situations. I can appreciate how quickly things can ignite in a group situation, which is all the more reason to neutralize people trying to escalate things. Firing tear has shells into a mixed bag of people seems like a great way to disperse everyone, but also a great way to cause chaos.

Again, I could be asking a lot of the police in these situations, but that's what I'd like to see happen. That, and when excessive force is used, that we have a police force own up to it and hold those responsible accountable, instead of shifting the blame onto the "few who make the many look bad". That's all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:45 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure the fact that he's up for re-election in a month had something to do with the police over-reaction. He didn't want to look like the hippies got the better of him.

Well, the initial police underreaction to the 1999 WTO riots was a major factor in the loss of Paul Schell in the 2001 primary, becoming the first Seattle incumbent mayor since before WWII to not make it through the first round.

The underreaction led to the overreaction that followed and the chaos that reigned the rest of the week. And by the evening of the first day Schell and police chief Stamper had essentially lost control of the law enforcement operations to the National Guard.

If Lukey is overreacting to assure his political career, it's not a surprise, but more than that, if if weren't operating that way and taking Schell's tack, the National Guard would be doing the overreacting instead.
posted by dw at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2009


What I'd like to see - and maybe I'm asking a lot here - is for police to descend upon, restrain and arrest the people actually breaking the law in these situations. I can appreciate how quickly things can ignite in a group situation, which is all the more reason to neutralize people trying to escalate things. Firing tear has shells into a mixed bag of people seems like a great way to disperse everyone, but also a great way to cause chaos.

That's not very practical is situations like this. Tear gas and OC spray is perfect for dispersing the crowd, which is what appears to be the goal of the police in this video.

That, and when excessive force is used, that we have a police force own up to it and hold those responsible accountable, instead of shifting the blame onto the "few who make the many look bad". That's all.

This is difficult. I agree, where true excessive force is used, those responsible should be held responsible. But what is excessive force in this sort of situation?
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:53 PM on September 27, 2009


Police brutality is lame, tear gas sucks, rubber bullets are worse but riled-up crowds are far more dangerous

Police brutality is not "lame." Aging rock bands playing casino gigs are "lame." Reality TV is "lame." Police brutality is almost always traumatizing, sometimes life-shattering, and occasionally permanently injurious or crippling. Police brutality is injustice.

And the best way to rile up a crowd is shoot rubber bullets and tear gas at them all day.

most people don't show up to a shopping mall or public event to cause trouble, wreak havoc or make a statement.

Most people don't show up at a protest to wreak havoc either.

If the cops say to disperse, and you don't want to get teargassed, then leave!

No.
posted by regicide is good for you at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


Was that a Leftist Tea Party?
Obama undercut a lot of this when he addressed the assembled group, noted he believed in a free market economy and that one thing under a lot of consideration was how to make things better for those in dire need--presumably what the protesters were all about.

Not noted: the police also used some sort of noise device that seemed a lot like the one we had been selling to foreign nations for crowd control. I had posted a video of this device in use at my site yesterday.

Would there have been this sort of police action had the protesters simply chanted, sung etc with no visible sign of aggressive behavior? Or were there a few who wanted a police reaction in order to get some media attention? I am not sure.

Some 85 people had been arrested, including the guy hustled into the unmarked Crown Vic, by the camo guys wearing army boots, sporting military haircuts, who, we are led to believe were really local police not in police uniforms.
posted by Postroad at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2009


This was the best hightlight from the G20 protests.
posted by alopez at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, the kid that was apparently grabbed by military in an unmarked car? That's a little unnerving.

Yes, that was the most unnerving part of that video for me;
posted by jason's_planet at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]




(yay synchronicity!)
posted by teraflop at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2009


People protesting the violence and injustice inherent in the State are surprised and annoyed to discover that the State cracks down on them with in a violent and unjust fashion?

Give the anarchist a cigarette, coz that's as close as he's ever gonna get.
posted by Jimbob at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2009


If the cops say to disperse, and you don't want to get teargassed, then leave!

No.


Well, don't act surprised that you got teargassed, then.
posted by empath at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2009


most people don't show up to a shopping mall or public event to cause trouble, wreak havoc or make a statement.

Most people don't show up at protests to cause trouble or wreak havoc, either. "Making a statement" isn't exactly cause to be teargassed. In fact I think I remember something about a right to "peaceably assemble" written somewhere. If a few people in that crowd cross a line, I think they're the ones who need to be singled out, as opposed to a shotgun approach onto the entire crowd. I realize that's more difficult than lobbing tear gas cannisters, but I can dream.

This is difficult. I agree, where true excessive force is used, those responsible should be held responsible. But what is excessive force in this sort of situation?

I think the last few seconds of the video show a great example of excessive force, for one. I don't dispute the difficulty of crowd control though. I do think, though, that there's probably a degree of difference between overreaction and underreaction, and it's my hope that advances in technology that can create newer and better ways to hurt people might also be applied to find newer and better ways to quickly and safely neutralize troublemakers in a crowd of otherwise peaceful protestors.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:05 PM on September 27, 2009


Anarchists that roll into a city they don't know and didn't care about until the G## came to town, then proceed to be bad guests are only hurting the cause of anarchism. Marches and protests like these do not work anymore, if marches and such ever worked. If the march is peaceful, it is mocked or ignored. If it turns violent and "direct-action" then the police just get to practice their populace repression techniques and anarchists get portrayed as bad seeds. These people are wasting everyones time so they can maybe get arrested so they can have a rooftop benefit party to pay their legal fees and maybe get arrested again so they can keep up the benefit parties.

Gra! If only they would take all this energy and devote it to setting up sustainable, alternative, non-hierarchical organizations to meet people's needs and draw people out of capitalistic exploitation we could achieve some appreciable changes to our society. Instead of setting up free schools, food-not-bombs, or community gardens these kids are playing to the script of the authoritarian establishment and accomplishing nothing but spectacle.

It is all very bothersome to me. Capitalism, and especially the sort that the G## represent doesn't serve regular people very well, making it vulnerable to having its victims extracted from underneath it by a more equitable system. We should be setting up autonomous communities and educating children instead of breaking starbucks windows.

(disclaimer: I hold to Bruno Latours's position that "technology is society made durable." which to me means that in the process of a societal revolution some amount of property damage is necessary, and I also agree with critiques of non-violence, but don't believe in using ineffective techniques over and over hoping that - for some reason - this protest, this brick, this march, this effigy, will be the one that causes world capitalism to fall.

Additionally, protesters usually don't consider cops to be fully human. Of course, the police aren't helping with riot armor, but the cops are in a bad position because of or current society too. They are victims of capitalist repression too, reading up on the downsides of police culture will illuminate this (they work long hours, usually have homogeneous friend groups because they are "the man, " peopel generally hate them for no reason, some people want to shoot them, etc). This failure to empathize is part of the reason that police are necessary.

Sadly for anarchism as a movement right now, passion and thoughtlessness is emphasized and thoughtful considerations and scientific method is devalued. This is best for the establishment and I don't have much hope for the future.
posted by fuq at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2009 [23 favorites]


Most people don't show up at protests to cause trouble or wreak havoc, either. "Making a statement" isn't exactly cause to be teargassed. In fact I think I remember something about a right to "peaceably assemble" written somewhere.

There actually WERE peaceful protests that didn't get shut down by police. They had permits and everything.
posted by empath at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2009


Gra! If only they would take all this energy and devote it to setting up sustainable, alternative, non-hierarchical organizations to meet people's needs and draw people out of capitalistic exploitation we could achieve some appreciable changes to our society. Instead of setting up free schools, food-not-bombs, or community gardens these kids are playing to the script of the authoritarian establishment and accomplishing nothing but spectacle.

God, do I agree with this 100% If it makes you feel better, there are anarchists here in Iceland who are trying to do all these things. They have a co-op café, they've set up tables offering free food on the street - hot meals, free, if you ask for one - and even their protesting has been peaceful. So there's always hope.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2009


Also, the kid that was apparently grabbed by military in an unmarked car? That's a little unnerving.

I read a tweet that suggested that that kid was an informant and the police were getting him out of the way in a hurry before the violence but I have no other conformation of that. So forgive me for repeating a rumor but it does make sense.
posted by octothorpe at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2009


it's my hope that advances in technology that can create newer and better ways to hurt people might also be applied to find newer and better ways to quickly and safely neutralize troublemakers in a crowd of otherwise peaceful protestors.

I'm with you there.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2009


Sadly for anarchism as a movement right now, passion and thoughtlessness is emphasized and thoughtful considerations and scientific method is devalued. This is best for the establishment and I don't have much hope for the future.

That's a great criticism you make, there. But don't be too quick to project the failings of the present outward into the future. Conscious and competent leadership can come from anywhere; maybe the leadership you want is waiting in the wings, working a dead-end job, disgusted with life as it is. Maybe they'll make a choice to join the mass movements; maybe they'll steer those movements in the direction you want.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is that loudspeaker voice declaring "this is an unlawful assembly, immediately disperse" authentic? It sounds like it was dubbed in post.
posted by anazgnos at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2009


Obama undercut a lot of this when he addressed the assembled group, noted he believed in a free market economy and that one thing under a lot of consideration was how to make things better for those in dire need--presumably what the protesters were all about.

I really don't think the protesters were all about propping up the ailing myth of a trickle-down economy, no.

Would there have been this sort of police action had the protesters simply chanted, sung etc with no visible sign of aggressive behavior

No reason to think there couldn't have been. Police often attack protests without provocation, and aren't above posing as violent protesters to provoke crowds.

Well, don't act surprised that you got teargassed, then.

Haven't had the privilege in years, thanks. Even then I was never surprised. What happened in Abu Ghraib wasn't a surprise to a lot of people, either. But expecting it and even having some understanding of it doesn't mean being cool with it.

For what it's worth I think these protests aren't working anymore. The successful Seattle WTO protests and Quebec City FTAA protests had been preceded by months, years, arguably decades of consciousness-raising and coalition building across the continent, which often grew out of real, on-the-ground work at the level of people's daily lives and needs. At some point most activists seem to have decided they no longer need to build public understanding of the cause, or keep things connected to day-to-day issues- now they just show up, play-act past successes and be heroically angry and then people will rally behind them, as if a mere spectacle (among a million other more pleasant and passive spectacles) will be enough.

Of course, many of the people who did the real groundwork got burned out, had their lives derailed apart by police charges, or went back to the more grassroots stuff that had brought them to protest movements in the first place. And there's a bit of a vicious circle going on, since the corporate news media seems less and less interested in even appearing to cover issues of global trade and economic justice substantively. And in case there was anyone still left willing to express dissent or think critically about the global economy after Everything Changed On September 11, most of them got mopped up after Everything Changed When Obama Got Elected. Activists, still emboldened by (very recent) past successes but cut off by (some very effective) counter-campaigns in the media, get more isolated, which makes them lash out, which makes them more isolated, etc., etc.

But for those criticizing activists from a sympathetic point of view, I think I have to agree with jason's_planet. No one saw the anti-globalization movement coming. There's no reason to believe there aren't foundations being laid right now that won't link up again in a different, and hopefully more sustainable, way in the future.
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:33 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Naturally, I meant, "There's no reason to believe there aren't foundations being laid right now that will link up again in a different, and hopefully more sustainable, way in the future."
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2009


Just out of curiosity, what do you think was successful about the WTO riots of 1999? I'm not aware of anything that was accomplished besides a lot of property damage.
posted by empath at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2009


Just out of curiosity, what do you think was successful about the WTO riots of 1999?

Awareness man! Like how McDonalds are now aware they can sell more coffee by branding it "Rainforest Alliance" and having blurbs about how the family who works on the coffee plantation that produced the beans they used to make your cup own a TV and Stereo!
posted by Jimbob at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Conscious and competent leadership can come from anywhere; maybe the leadership you want is waiting in the wings, working a dead-end job, disgusted with life as it is. Maybe they'll make a choice to join the mass movements; maybe they'll steer those movements in the direction you want.

An aspect of anarchism, both boon and bane, is that there isn't leadership. Consciousness and competency must be canonical.
posted by fuq at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


empath, I don't think the WTO riots were successful at all: police were clearly unsuccessful in achieving their goal of shutting down and de-legitimizing the protests.

Now, if you were to ask me - and I know you didn't, but indulge me - what was successful about the WTO protests of 1999, there would be the obvious answer of completely shutting down the "Millenium Round" of the WTO meetings. Beyond that, and maybe more importantly, the protests temporarily made the WTO a household name - anathema to a body which is unaccountable by design - and brought discussions on globalization out of boardrooms and into living rooms.

And just so you know, that response was about the extent of my willingness to engage with trolls.
posted by regicide is good for you at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


and brought discussions on globalization out of boardrooms and into living rooms.

I spent some time in some living rooms at or around the time of the '99 protests, and I can confirm that while they did come up as a topic of converstation, these converstations were generally not an analysis of global capitalism, but rather confused questions about why these people were smashing windows and yelling.
posted by Jimbob at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing it's my hope that advances in technology that can create newer and better ways to hurt people might also be applied to find newer and better ways to quickly and safely neutralize troublemakers in a crowd of otherwise peaceful protestors.

So only wrongdoers should have their shock collars activated? Be careful what you wish for. I can't think of any way of technologically picking out troublemakers, that doesn't incidentally bring Orwell's Boot a little further downwards.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jimbob - you and I just spent time in different living rooms, I guess. YMMV.
posted by regicide is good for you at 3:16 PM on September 27, 2009


...but rather confused questions about why these people were smashing windows and yelling.

And many exhortations for the police to beat up as many hippies as possible. I don't think the anarchists realize the level of anti-hippie bloodlust that many millions upon millions of Americans have.

Black Bloc street-fighters think that by forcing The Man to crack down violently, they'll expose the unjust nature of the system and force Joe Sixpack to confront his involvement in the exploitative Capitalist system. When, in reality, watching The Man kick the shit out of smelly anarchists makes Joe Sixpack laugh and pass the popcorn to his buddies.

They really need to think of a means of protesting that dissolves our national bloodlust rather than whetting it.
posted by Avenger at 3:17 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The visuals for these things always seem to show a long line of faceless black-clad cops facing off against a milling crowd of people wearing hoodies from The Gap or black T-shirts, which makes it easy for the law-and-order types to decide between disciplined peace officers and ragged rabble. I would really like to see the protesters all join the 501st Legion and show up in uniform to a protest like this. If nothing else, forty riot cops lined up trying to stare down two hundred stormtroopers would be a great photo.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:22 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gra! If only they would take all this energy and devote it to setting up sustainable, alternative, non-hierarchical organizations to meet people's needs and draw people out of capitalistic exploitation we could achieve some appreciable changes to our society. Instead of setting up free schools, food-not-bombs, or community gardens these kids are playing to the script of the authoritarian establishment and accomplishing nothing but spectacle.

I largely agree with your criticism, with one caveat: I don't think you should necessarily assume that merely because someone is involved in a direct action-style protest that this is the only tactic of political activism or conscious-raising that they employ in their lives. Dude, I, personally, have been in a couple of shit-scary situations at demonstrations, and have been on the receiving end of some notorious British riot police tactics (kettling, baton charging, etc) but I consider these segments in my life to be a tiny, tiny part of what I do in terms of (and I always feel like a bit of a dick when I type the word) 'activism'.

I have met people on demonstrations who go because they think demonstrations are exciting. And demonstrations are exciting. The problem emerges when this excitement is your sole motivation. However, the vast majority of people I have met who have engaged in direct action or acts of political protest/demonstration are reasoned people who spend a lot of time doing unsexy stuff (grassroots work, like you described above) that never makes the papers. It's easy to write an article saying "ANARCHISTS SMASH CARS, WEAR BLACK, LOOK DUMB IN MOTORCYCLE HELMETS, HAVE INCOHERENT DEMANDS, STOP PRESS," harder to write an article saying "these people think that capitalism is broken and occasionally take to the streets because of their beliefs, here is why they think this and you should decide for yourself if they are right." (Writing the first kind of article is made easier, I will admit, by the perhaps unfortunate propensity of some anarchists towards wearing black, looking dumb in motorcycle helmets, and smashing cars.)

Admittedly, the US anticapitalist/anarchist movement is largely outside of my sphere and I am mostly familiar with UK socialist and antifascist groups, so YMMV and I might be talking out of my arse here. Also I'm not an anarchist and I don't own a motorcycle helmet.
posted by somergames at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The thing is that there is no opposition party, there hasn't been a non-Democrat mayor (or council person) elected since the nineteen thirties.

Hey, you got your Pittsburgh in my Baltimore!
posted by rokusan at 3:32 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


So only wrongdoers should have their shock collars activated? Be careful what you wish for. I can't think of any way of technologically picking out troublemakers, that doesn't incidentally bring Orwell's Boot a little further downwards.

Wait what? No. What I meant was technology that can help police get quickly and safely to someone actually trying to incite a riot, quickly and safely neutralize them, and quickly and safely take them away from the setting. This seems a far better scenario to me than "a couple people in that crowd are rocking a parked car back and forth; deploy the tear gas".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2009


"The visuals for these things always seem to show a long line of faceless black-clad cops facing off against a milling crowd of people wearing hoodies from The Gap or black T-shirts, which makes it easy for the law-and-order types to decide between disciplined peace officers and ragged rabble."

You should have seen how conflicted the police were when the Iraq Veterans Against the War took to the streets of Denver in uniform during the DNC last year. It was tense as hell, but they held back on the brutality. The march was unauthorized, but the police escorted them (and the thousands of people trailing them) through town and into a fence-canyon. After a few hours and some compromises on both sides everyone eventually dispersed. It was uniform-on-uniform and it ended well.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 3:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would really like to see the protesters all join the 501st Legion and show up in uniform to a protest like this. If nothing else, forty riot cops lined up trying to stare down two hundred stormtroopers would be a great photo.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:22 PM on September 27


they would all be shot to death by the police for having "guns"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:48 PM on September 27, 2009


Is that loudspeaker voice declaring "this is an unlawful assembly, immediately disperse" authentic? It sounds like it was dubbed in post.

It's not dubbed, I heard it myself live on Friday when the police were breaking up the authorized march which ended in my neighborhood. It's a recording in English and (amusingly Spanish*) that they played on loudspeakers from the police trucks.



*There are about 12 Spanish speaking Pittsburghers so I have no idea what that was for.
posted by octothorpe at 3:50 PM on September 27, 2009


LET'S GO PENS!
posted by robot at 4:03 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Normally, I can't fucking stand political threads on MetaFilter.

This has been an exception. I've really enjoyed this one.

Thanks for posting that, empath.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:22 PM on September 27, 2009


*There are about 12 Spanish speaking Pittsburghers so I have no idea what that was for.

Public relations. It looks sensitive and multicultural an' shit.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:22 PM on September 27, 2009


Just out of curiosity, what do you think was successful about the WTO riots of 1999? I'm not aware of anything that was accomplished besides a lot of property damage.

If you haven't already seen it, "Battle in Seattle" is a fairly good portrayal of those events. The protesters were able to get some meetings shut down, which stopped some capitalistic business from occurring but also some humanitarian awareness meetings from assembling. So it was a mixed bag on that end. The end result of the riots seemed to have been further isolation and marginalization of legitimate dissent, however.

I also was pretty creeped out by what looked like soldiers tossing someone into an unmarked sedan. They could've been anyone. Crazy.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:28 PM on September 27, 2009


empath, I don't think the WTO riots were successful at all: police were clearly unsuccessful in achieving their goal of shutting down and de-legitimizing the protests.

As someone who was working in downtown Seattle during the WTO riots, I can tell you the police didn't have to do anything to de-legitimize the protest -- the protesters did a great job of that themselves.

Where the police failed was in how ridiculous their handling of the whole event was. They would drive the crowds up into Capitol Hill every night, angering residents. They detained protestors on city buses overnight because they didn't have a real plan for handling them. And, of course, you had the police violence bleeding over into attacks on the truly innocent locals who just found themselves with a cop in the Red Mist.

Now, if you were to ask me - and I know you didn't, but indulge me - what was successful about the WTO protests of 1999, there would be the obvious answer of completely shutting down the "Millenium Round" of the WTO meetings.

That round, yes. And from then on, the negotiations and sessions happened at remote resorts with rings of protection around them, pushing the protests 20-30-50 miles away. And now, we know even less about what's going on. The protests failed to get us what we really needed -- transparency on the part of the WTO (and any of the other trade negotiations that have followed).

Beyond that, and maybe more importantly, the protests temporarily made the WTO a household name - anathema to a body which is unaccountable by design - and brought discussions on globalization out of boardrooms and into living rooms.

Not really. I mean, say "WTO" to someone and they'll respond "Seattle" or "riots." Middle America moved on, 9/11 happened, Jon & Kate got separated, and now they're all buying cheap imported clothes and produce from Wal-Mart thanks to the WTO, even if their jobs have all been offshored (which is why they're shopping at Wal-Mart, anyway, since they can't afford much more).

The riots were a disaster for everyone, but in the long term the WTO has been the least hurt.
posted by dw at 4:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Having had this discussion with some friends of mine, can someone explain the upside to Pittsburgh(or any city for that matter) of hosting this event?
Even for a protest that turns doesn't turn violent, the costs for police have to be enormous. Couple that with inconvenience to residents, clean-up and all the other things that come along with it.

I mean, sure there is probably a metric ton of DHS money to pay for police and a bunch of new toys, and yeah, all the news stations are going to be searching out cool things to show and do in Pittsburgh, but I can't imagine that the bottom line works out well. Do the hotel and restaurant taxes make up for the costs?

Were I a mayor, I think my first reaction on being offered one of these things would be "Thanks, but no thanks".
Anyone involved in planning one of these types of events (specifically major conventions likely to attract protesters) want to fill me in on the benefits?
posted by madajb at 5:51 PM on September 27, 2009


As someone who photographed a lot of protests as a student in Portland during the Bush years, I can tell you that there is nothing new or sci-fi about these police tactics. Even the most extreme Portland protesters tend to just chain themselves to gas stations, though, not lob dumpsters at cops.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 6:05 PM on September 27, 2009


I would personally be satisfied for the moment if irrelevant attention-grabbing violent assholes could, at the very least, turn their violent urges towards being strategically relevant attention-grabbing assholes. Being cop-provoking dicks and then acting like some kind of victims as a result doesn't play well on the television, politics entirely aside.
posted by majick at 6:33 PM on September 27, 2009


The protesters probably would have gotten more sympathy if they had used Terrible Towels to cover their faces.
posted by armage at 6:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd really like to see a piece of local reporting on the Pittsburgh G-20 that gives the whole security picture as context to these strings of incidents. Who were all these guys? Example: I know someone in law enforcement in a DC suburb whose SWAT team was sent to Pittsburgh for the G-20. Were they all under the Pittsburgh chief of police's control? Were the National Guard troops under Rendell's control?

It just seems like the incident caught on-camera -- the Pitt students trapped in a stairwell, police upstairs telling them to go down and police downstairs telling them to go up, and meanwhile all tear-gassing and shooting them with rubber bullets -- is a microcosm of the anarchic clusterfuck that was the massive security presence at the G-20. Who was telling these guys to go out Friday night and round students up if they weren't tucked in at 11?

Let's not forget that on Friday night, there was no sign of the folks who did the vandalizing on Thursday night. This was a bunch of students out on and around campus on a Friday night. Nobody declared martial law for the G-20; nobody instituted a curfew; there was no reason to attack these kids.
posted by palliser at 7:30 PM on September 27, 2009


[Bunch of comments removed. Not sure what the fuck that was about, but cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 7:36 PM on September 27, 2009


I'm honestly surprised by how many people feel that protestors are filthy, rabble-rousing scum, and police naught but harried, victimised people trying to to the best they can. I'm sure this is sometimes the case, however, with regards to these kind of protests truly terrible things have happened in the past.
posted by smoke at 7:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why after 85 posts hasn't the idiotic misspelling of Pittsburgh been corrected?
posted by IAmBroom at 8:27 PM on September 27, 2009


I'm not a big fan of the way that the police acted in Pittsburgh last week but I was just reading about the 1877 Railroad strike which happened in almost exactly the same stretch of Liberty Avenue as last week's confrontation. The way they handled it back then was to open fire on demonstrators with rifles, killing twenty of them. The demonstrators then proceded to "set fires that razed 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars" A month of rioting followed until the US Army was sent in.

So we've progressed a bit as a society since then.
posted by octothorpe at 8:33 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


palliser: "I'd really like to see a piece of local reporting on the Pittsburgh G-20 that gives the whole security picture as context to these strings of incidents."

While I'm not sure whether it'll be satisfactory or not, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has some articles on it that may be of interest:

Big crowd broken up at Phipps; windows smashed in Oakland
Groggy but not subdued, anarchists hail protest success with little damage
G-20 protesters hold peaceful march from Oakland to North Side
Oakland's Long Night
Was summit good for business? (which goes a little way towards answering madajb's question)

Kind of a mixed bag.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:40 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, what do you think was successful about the WTO riots of 1999? I'm not aware of anything that was accomplished besides a lot of property damage.

Well, the WTO did a major image enhancement after the Seattle riot, focusing specifically on assurances of a new era of transparency in negotiations. I don't know enough to tell you if they actually changed anything significant about the way they deliberate, let alone vote, but I've been told by folks who pay attention to globalization debates that the Seattle protest did indeed have a significant effect on the way the organization works. Maybe most of that is in the "we need to spin ourselves better" realm, I dunno.

That would be a great AskMe question.
posted by mediareport at 9:06 PM on September 27, 2009


This page from the Mennonite Central Committee points out at least one significant change in how the WTO operates pre- and post-Seattle:

Three key factors contributed to this outcome: civil society protests, the objections of developing countries to the non-transparent nature of the meeting and the impasse between the USA and the EU.

Civil Society Protests: Thousands of protesters from around the world went to Seattle to demand an end to trade policies that favour the interests of transnational corporations over those of developing countries, the poor, the environment, workers and consumers...The opening ceremony of the conference was cancelled when demonstrators prevented delegates from entering the convention centre...

Undemocratic Tactics: The tactics of the industrial powers also frustrated progress. In an effort to orchestrate the outcome of the conference, the major developed countries held informal "green room" meetings. Through these sub-caucuses, they sought to resolve their disputes privately and agree on a joint agenda for the next round of talks. They then hoped to bully the conference into incorporating their agenda into the final declaration. A few influential developing countries were invited to take part in these discussions as their support was considered pivotal to the strategy's success. But the vast majority of nations were excluded from these backroom debates.

These secretive and undemocratic methods prompted the African Ministers to draft a statement in which they declared that they would not "be able to join the consensus required to meet the objectives of this Ministerial Conference". The Carribean Community Ministers and some Latin American Ministers issued similar statements threatening to withhold their votes. In light of these statements and the general level of dissatisfaction with the WTO process, US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and WTO Director-General Mike Moore decided not to propose a declaration on the last day of the conference. They feared developing countries would reject the declaration, further discrediting the WTO and exposing the manipulative tactics of its most enthusiastic supporters...

Beyond Seattle

In many respects, the failure of the Seattle Ministerial Conference was a victory for developing countries. They managed to prevent the industrial powers from making their issues, rather than those of the developing world, the priorities of the WTO agenda for the foreseeable future...


So, yeah, Seattle does appear to have marked the end of a certain kind of non-transparent bullying process by the industrial nations. How much of the strength for the developing nations' stand that week came from the knowledge that 1000s of protesters were in the streets, angry? I suppose that's debatable, but the answer is surely greater than zero.
posted by mediareport at 9:17 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for linking those, Kadin -- I think I've read all the P-G's reporting, and there's some good, detailed reporting there, but I'd really like to understand where all the extra law enforcement came from, whose charge they were under, how they made decisions like "clear Schenley Plaza now, and use whatever non-lethal means you need to do it." It's something I'd think a local reporter could put together with their contacts in law enforcement, but maybe it's more complicated than that. And maybe no one else is interested!

But I feel like the heavy security presence creates its own justification -- not that it's never needed, but that when they have the sound cannon, hey, why not use the sound cannon? And if they have rubber bullets and riot gear, and they came all the way here from DC, hey, why not enforce the 11 p.m. closing time of Schenley Plaza (just your usual parks department closing time, not some kind of martial-law-style curfew) by tear-gassing and bruising up any students who are there? It won't kill them!

A guy named William Quigley was quoted in the first article you link as saying:
"It just seems more militarized as time goes on, with more and more toys, with tanks and helicopters and sound blasters. The police themselves, though, were very well-behaved.

"But it's just tragic -- the supposed reason for all this equipment is terrorism, but instead they end up using it to chase protesters, and there's a bunch of young people who love to be chased and it becomes like Tom and Jerry."
posted by palliser at 9:19 PM on September 27, 2009


A pessimistic look at the lack of change in the WTO one year after Seattle:

After Seattle, much talk about reforming the global economic system to bring on board those “being left behind” by globalization was emitted by establishment personalities like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, and Nike CEO Phil Knight. The Davos Forum placed the question of reform at the top of the agenda of the meetings it held for the global elite.A year after Seattle, however, there has been precious little in the way of concrete action. The most prominent reform initiative, the Group of Seven’s plan to lessen the servicing of the external debt of the 41 Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) has actually delivered a debt reduction of only $US 1 billion since it began in 1996. That amounts to only a 3 percent reduction in those countries’ debt servicing in the past four and a half years.

One year after the Seattle collapse, talk about reforming the decision-making process at the WTO has vanished, with Director General Mike Moore saying that that the nontransparent, undemocratic “Consensus/Green Room” system that triggered the developing country revolt in Seattle is “non-negotiable.”

posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


TheGoldenOne: I've witnessed plenty of police brutality. However, I've witnessed many more acts of stupidity masked as rebellious bravery and I can't feel sorry for anyone who's asking for it. Getting caught in the cross-fire is an unfortunate consequence for riot tourists and members of the media alike, and I can't feel sorry for those parties either.

feel sorry for anyone who's asking for it: Polanski spent the past three decades in exile in France, which (unlike Switzerland) has no extradition treaty with the US, after being convicted of having raped a 13-year-old girl at a party.
(acb could have gotten the facts a little better there.. lots wrong in that quotation)

octothorpe: I read a tweet that suggested that that kid was an informant and the police were getting him out of the way in a hurry before the violence but I have no other conformation of that. So forgive me for repeating a rumor but it does make sense.

Getting them out of the way in a hurry: Pilot arrested over Argentine death flights.
(I could swear this was a Mefi post, but I can't find it..)

TheGoldenOne: It was uniform-on-uniform and it ended well.

Uniform-on-uniform and it ended well: "a monumental military parade took place.... What is unusual is that the parade was held not by the Polish army, but by the soviet Red Army and the Nazi German Wehrmacht – together."
(Don't mean to pick on you there, TheGoldenOne. Just notice odd correlations and getting all Meta about them. I guess you were just an innocent bystander)
posted by Chuckles at 10:17 PM on September 27, 2009


I probably shouldn't respond given how extremely confused I am by your post, Chuckles- it would seem your synapses are firing at a different rate than mine, but here goes:

-I don't feel sorry for anyone who deliberately puts themselves in harm's way during a riot, sight-seers and myself as a member of the press included. I do feel sorry for non-violent protesters who find themselves under the jackboot. I do not see how this in any way equates to rape.

-I also fail to see how uniformed U.S. veterans and police (many of whom are also veterans) equates to Nazis and the Red Army. In any way.

WTF to the max.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 11:06 PM on September 27, 2009


Rioting-the unbeatable high
Adrenalin shoots your nerves to the sky
Everyone knows this town is gonna blow
And it's all gonna blow right now!
posted by rainperimeter at 11:36 PM on September 27, 2009


What do any of those things have to do with the G-20 or Pittsburgh? I'm confused.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 PM on September 27, 2009


The demonstrators then proceded to "set fires that razed 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars" A month of rioting followed until the US Army was sent in.

Wow. Those guys were serious. Makes the globalization protests look like a bad day at the playground. Not that we want anything like that again ...
posted by krinklyfig at 12:30 AM on September 28, 2009


"G20 protesters blasted by sonic cannon"

Anarchist crybabies! When I was growing up, we used to call that sorta thing a good night out!

I got aforementioned cannon fired at me at relatively short range. Whoah. Glad I was covering my ears... and using earplugs.
posted by markkraft at 2:32 AM on September 28, 2009


I am glad it's over. Period.
posted by nnk at 7:27 AM on September 28, 2009


I found this Nation video piece Iron City in the Shadow of the G20 to be much more informative, and lacking footage of "ANARCHOMGWTF!!!"
posted by stachemaster at 8:00 AM on September 28, 2009


Was there anybody there who wasn't carrying a camera?
posted by alby at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2009


See, if they'd just brought Glocks and AR-15s while yammering about violent revolution and the blood of tyrants they would have been treated respectfully and as valued contributors to the debate. When will the left learn how to demonstrate within the bounds of polite society?
posted by stet at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


a little off topic but, maybe it's because I just read Stewart O'Nan's pre G-20 piece in the WSJ where he talks about Pittsburghers getting caught up in nostalgia for the past -- which gets perpetuated nationwide.

I don't have a problem with The Nation -- but I am really tired of the cliches. I guess it doesn't help to have a football team named The Steelers, but really, it's not the Iron City anymore -- let it go. Pittsburgh is about so much more than its past.

Still glad it's over and the world can forget Pittsburgh.
posted by nnk at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2009


Some more links from the post-gazette blog of the G-20.

This one really bothers me. Not violent, but, to me, shows the arrogance of the police.

and another that first debunks, then kind of confirms the "guy thrown into unmarked car" video.

The whole blog is worth reading to see the unfolding of events.
posted by dforemsky at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was involved in a group organizing against the Andean Free Trade Agreement. It was very peaceful and hippy-ish (we gave all the delegates gift bags for christ's sake) but the police response was still over the top. Twice we had undercover cops try to infiltrate our convergence space in the back of an art gallery. Metal chains under your shirt and fanny packs on a twenty year old (which likely held a gun) are dead giveaways.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2009




nestor_makhno, first you state:
I was involved in a group organizing against the Andean Free Trade Agreement. It was very peaceful and hippy-ish (we gave all the delegates gift bags for christ's sake) but the police response was still over the top. (emphasis added)

Then, as if in explanation, you state:
Twice we had undercover cops try to infiltrate our convergence space in the back of an art gallery. Metal chains under your shirt and fanny packs on a twenty year old (which likely held a gun) are dead giveaways.

... which seems to me to be perfectly legal, reasonable policework, if the goal is keeping an eye on potentially violent situations. They went mildly undercover, in a public place, and in no way offered entrapment incentives. They just went undercover in a public place.

What is so over-the-top about the police using peaceful means to observe potentially violent situations?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2009


if (you.blind == true) {
side_with_police();
}

IAmBroom, you have got to be kidding me, they are not infiltrating groups that plan violence. Almost nobody plans violence for these protests, and the few acts of vandalism and dumpster shoving are the manifestation of too much adrenaline in the moment. I might lose control too if cops were throwing tear gas at me for trying to exercise free speech.

I'm so sick of people slurping up the establishment's bullshit line of "two people threw rocks at one of us thats why we had to massively overreact across the entire city."

The cop who can't resist beating down a tiny skinny girl is the ultimate example of what happens when you give someone a weapon, a suit and tell him he is basically god.
posted by cbecker333 at 1:48 PM on September 28, 2009


I recall seeing the NYPD roll down 5th Avenue for the G-whatever-it-was in 2001. NYC is hardly perfect in the free speech dept., but it has a nasty history of riots and violence. The people--even otherwise leftist judges--have very little tolerance for violent rioting.

The calvary rolling down 5th consisted of dozens of cops in full riot gear on motorcycles attempting to make a statement with their entrance. Watching them roll by was an impressive sight to see. Such displays of police presence in NYC mean something there. If a protest gets ugly, they'll happily arrest everyone who doesn't disperse, book them with mobile booking buses, hold them up in warehouses overnight, and sort things out in the morning.

I didn't get to see what happened downtown that night, but Giuliani's NYC was not about to turn into the Seattle WTO riots. Heck no.

As for those punks throwing crap at the police in this video, where were their riot shields? In NYC they'd likely have gone after them, kicked their asses, and asked questions later.

Watching these videos and what I've seen from the NYPD in riots and whatnot...well...Pittsburgh doesn't seem to have the same kind of experience to properly deal with these sorts of riots. Some of the cops seemed downright terrified. And perhaps I missed it, but what sort of crowd control operation doesn't have horse mounted police? Looking up at a cops on battle horses is often impetus enough to get violent hooligans to disperse without resorting to tear gas.
posted by cleancut at 2:08 PM on September 28, 2009


cbecker333
IAmBroom, you have got to be kidding me, they are not infiltrating groups that plan violence.

Ah, my bad. I didn't realize these were groups that were well known beyond a shadow of a doubt by every police officer to be completely incapable of violence.

If I had only realized your group had posted this certification outside their protest...

Almost nobody plans violence for these protests, and the few acts of vandalism and dumpster shoving are the manifestation of too much adrenaline in the moment.

Citation?
posted by IAmBroom at 2:36 PM on September 28, 2009


We need a citation to prove that the majority of people exercising their democratic right to assembly and protest are not planning on violence? Seriously?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:12 PM on September 28, 2009


Yeah, I have to say, people being surprised that police infiltrate protest groups come off as a bit disingenuous.

Look at it from their perspective. Assume some group says they have a problem with the way things are run at a fundamental level. Anyone who thinks the police won't consider that worth following up on are being more generous than I would.

But maybe more to the point, if a group were actually making progress toward a non-violent, more equitable society, they would pose a direct threat (not physically, but existentially) toward whatever state under which they reside, and the state's armed aspect would naturally be brought in to play, even if the method of change was completely nonviolent. We've seen this over and over. This isn't a freakin' board game, you are testing the resolve of monumentally resourceful and avaricious powers, or at least that of the bodies tasked with protecting them. Be ready to take your lumps. What happened to the discipline present in past nonviolent struggles? Why isn't that held up as something to learn from anymore?

I also can't agree with people who think cops are just interested in stopping violence. When it comes to protests and political movements, police are interested in stopping disorder. Even if the current "order" is unjust, that's still their job: to maintain the power structures that employ them. Violence certainly represents a form of disorder, and can certainly threaten standing power relations, but I'd wager that if they are interested in violence, it's really only in this way - secondarily.
posted by regicide is good for you at 4:23 PM on September 28, 2009


Yeah, I have to say, people being surprised that police infiltrate protest groups come off as a bit disingenuous.

Do you mean surprised, or disgusted? It most certainly isn't surprising.
posted by Chuckles at 6:28 PM on September 28, 2009


We need a citation to prove that the majority of people exercising their democratic right to assembly and protest are not planning on violence? Seriously?

No, Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, I did not ask for a citation for your newly-asked question. I asked for a citation for these two statements:

1. Almost nobody plans violence for these protests,
2. and the few acts of vandalism and dumpster shoving are the manifestation of too much adrenaline in the moment.

Try to stay focused. I know you're excited.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2009


Try to stay focused. I know you're excited.

You're asking for citations for that? And what's with that inane baiting?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 AM on September 30, 2009


Well, as evidence for the proposition that almost nobody plans violence is that almost nobody commits violence at these protests. At least in Pittsburgh, they think the window-breaking Thursday night was the work of one or two people, whereas there were thousands of protesters.

I don't have a citation, though -- just too darn over-excited to come up with a good websearch, I guess.
posted by palliser at 10:49 AM on September 30, 2009


Sure, I'll play along. If you disagree that "almost nobody plans violence for these protests", surely you must mean that a significant number of people are, in fact, planning violence. In a crowd of tens of thousands, I think a "significant number" would be somewhere in the hundreds.

So is this your contention? That there are in fact hundreds of troublemakers descending upon these events with the express purpose of inciting violence? Or are you conflating the actions of a dozen or so idiots to have greater significance than it should? Because no one's really disagreeing with you that there are idiots at these events.

I will say though that assertion that every group participating in their democratic right to protest needs to prove to the police that they are "well known beyond a shadow of a doubt by every police officer to be completely incapable of violence" in order to avoid undercover infiltration is a part of the "protestor = troublemaker" mentality that gives police brutality a free pass at these events.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:56 AM on September 30, 2009






« Older William Safire dead at 79   |   I prefer to think of it as a 'trolley opportunity' Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post