Surveillance of political undesirables continues. Round up the usual suspects.
August 9, 2000 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Surveillance of political undesirables continues. Round up the usual suspects. The sad thing is that this is not the least bit surprising. I honestly believe that the Dem. convention protests are going to get unbelievably ugly. Here in LA, the cops are beginning to behave even more thuggishly than usual. And that's saying something, my friends. So here's my question....I'm a liberal who feels that the Dem Party has lost its way, and I'd like to register my dissatisfaction with a peaceful protest. However, such a protest carries with it the very real chance of a billy club beatdown and a far from pleasant stay in the luxurious LA County jail. Do I follow my conscience, or my common sense?
posted by Optamystic (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your common sense. 'Peaceful protests' don't have quite the effect that they did thirty years ago.

If you're gonna protest nowadays, expect to be taken to jail. If you can't take a little inconvenience and discomfort in the name of your cause, you need to rethink why you're doing it.

And refuse to give your name. The cops love it when you do that.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:37 PM on August 9, 2000

If you go, go knowing that you can be 100% peaceful and cooperative and still wind up bleeding with a broken jaw from being hit with rubber bullets at close range.
posted by wiremommy at 5:45 PM on August 9, 2000

Dear Zach,

I consider broken bones, the potential loss of my job, and jailhouse sodomy more than a "little inconvenience".
posted by Optamystic at 6:13 PM on August 9, 2000

Optamystic, i'm facing the same dilemma. I believe, however, that there will be a few activities where you can peacefully protest without too much fear-- eg. skip the march, but meet the group in front of the Staples Center for the free Rage Against the Machine and Ozomatli concert. From what I have heard from people in Seattle and Philly, you will not get arrested if you leave peacably at the first signs of trouble. Of course there is a chance that you could get swept up in some mayhem, but it seems unlikely if that's not what you're there for. I heard on kcrw yesterday that all the information is online at some website, but damn it if I can't remember. Something like, but that's not it. Anyone, anyone?
posted by chaz at 6:59 PM on August 9, 2000 is the site. Check out the calendar of events. There should be plenty of ways you can get involved without putting yourself in harm's way.
posted by sudama at 9:19 PM on August 9, 2000

RATM's management company is claiming they have no intention of showing up for this concert, and the whole thing is a hoax. Dunno if it's true, but I don't think that's going to be a good place to be if umpteen thousand angry protestors realize they've been had.
posted by aaron at 9:28 PM on August 9, 2000

I work for one of the state Democratic parties, and I must say that I'm very concerned about my safety as well as the safety of my coworkers as well as the delegates when we're in L.A. next week. I read that they're expecting 50,000+ protesters. Keep in mind that this is more people than the delegates and press expected COMBINED. They're gonna have their own *little* convention outside, which to me is a little frightening. I'm all for peaceful protests -- it's one of the most important things in our democracy. I guess I just hope it all works out for the best. I dunno. I think my mother's worried about my safety... :)
posted by UWliberal at 9:53 PM on August 9, 2000

That's funny, UWliberal -- I'll be in LA for the conventions, and my mother is also worried about my safety -- not because she fears violence from other protesters, but rather excessive force from gun-wielding national guardsmen. Perhaps some right-wing terrorist oragnization will also be there (or Lakers fans) -- but as far as D2KLA is concerned, all participating groups -- Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society etc-- are committed to nonviolence, and they have a track record of peaceful direct action that backs up the philosophy.

...Of course, the LAPD have another kind of track record. There is always some risk involved in activism, and if you do go to LA you should be "prepared for the worst" (just like the national guard! ;)

Having said that, I don't believe there is a dictotomy between "conscience" and "common sense" (unless by the latter term you just mean "fear"). Were the activists who challenged sexism and racism in the 1960s exercising "common sense"? Today, many people accept as "common sense" that your ethnic make-up or sex cannot by themselves make you subhuman or unworthy of respect. Why is that? Largely because people "lost their senses", taking the issue to the streets and speaking out. Activism is the engine that drives social change, and is therefore the worst enemy of entrenched power. Whereas if Activism has an enemy, it is Fear, not Common Sense.

Got a bit carried away there...the short answer is basically what Chaz said -- just keep in mind that the Fed's definition of "mayhem" includes puppet-making, puppetry, and all other puppet-related activities; stay away from puppets and maybe they'll spare you...;)

posted by johnb at 12:28 AM on August 10, 2000

Puppetry is nothing. Try being mimes. Then everyone will really want to kick the shit out of you.
posted by aaron at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2000

they can only beat you if they catch you
posted by matucana at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2000


a cold water bucket with some hand towels or rags are great pepper spray first aid,

this is a good way to help the kids that dont mind
tacking it to the next level
posted by matucana at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2000

If you go, bring a 1.5L plastic water bottle with a screw-on squirt cap and hang it around your neck using one of those bag-straps you can get at any sporting goods store. You can use this to quickly wash the pepper spray and tear gas out of your eyes. In addition, keep a bandanna or handkerchief tucked in your pocket. When the shooting starts, breathe through it to help protect your throat. Keep a few bandages in your pocket to take care of bumps and scrapes.

Dress mainstream - it'll help you get out of the way faster and let you use an "innocent bystander" excuse if you need to. Don't bring a gas mask, nice as it would be to have; it'll make you look like you're looking for trouble.


posted by Mars Saxman at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2000

Don't bring a gas mask, nice as it would be to have; it'll make you look like you're looking for trouble.

And it might get you arrested, anyway, if they do what they did here in Seattle for WTO, and just make gasmasks "temporarily illegal." Big fun, kids.

posted by webmutant at 6:20 PM on August 10, 2000

Well, whether gas marks mark you as a threat or not, people in LA are buying them in droves.
posted by aaron at 9:03 PM on August 10, 2000

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