Why’d they get so rough at the RNC?
This following information if from Thursday’s Democracy Now.
Much of the “policing” being done in conjunction with the RNC is “pre-emptive”, i.e., it’s not about folks who have committed acts which are agains the law, but in anticipation of their maybe doing something. In addition to pre-emptive raids at specific houses and offices (e.g., I-Witness Video), folks were arrested in sweeps, i.e., they were arrested because they were in an area where someone might be doing something wrong — or might be going to do something wrong. For example, a young man, a local resident, was arrested because he was riding his bicycle in such a “someone might be doing or going to do something wrong” parts of town.
About 8 people of the RNC Welcoming Committee (a group helping co-ordinate activites among all manner of protest groups) have been charged with felony Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. The possible sentence for this offence is 7 years in prison. So, they did not riot, but talked about co-ordinating protest and perhaps even civil disobedience, but did not actually do anything. It is anticipated the “conspiracy” part will be used to hold them responsible for acts others might commit.
The arrests were made at 8 am on Saturday — days before the convention opened. Also, it meant that they could be held for 36 hours after start of business Tuesday — the 36 hours does not count down on weekends and holidays.
You may want to take some good long time to think about the “in Furtherance of Terrorism” part of the name of that charge.
As part of the agreement between the Convention Committee and the City of St. Paul, the first $10 million cost of defending the city against charges of false arrest, etc., will be borne by the Convention Committee.
This is all part of lessons learned from New York 4 years ago. New York arrested something like 1600 protesters — pretty wholesale arresting was going on — and NYPD and the city have had to pay out millions in the years since then. Of those 1600, the charges against about 400 had to be dropped because I-Witness Video (citizen journalists) could refute the police officers’ sworn statements against these 400 with specific video footage person-by-person.
St. Paul did a pre-emptive raid on a house in which I-Witness Video folks were staying and also raided the office they had rented. (The landlord kicked I-Witness out after the raid.) The police warrant for the house in which they were staying had the wrong address, i.e., the address next door, and the police had no warrant for the office raid. Their legal pretext for the warrantless office raid was that they got a report that either someone had been kidnapped and was being held there or that hostages were being held there.
Very slick. Very scary. Very deliberate. Up front buy-off of $10 million worth of wrongful policing.
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This sort of thing can only be a sign of what’s to come. They got rougher than usual because they have more to loose this time around. Also, people are finally starting to wake up and see that they’ve been getting a pretty raw deal. The government wears its power on its sleeve so as to hide its fear of what we are capable of.
TOO RIGHT ungovernable!!!!!! It amazed me to hear my strictly Dem friend from Little Rock Arkansas tell me how horrified she was by the police actions at the RNC. I think people; non-radical people that is, are getting vocal about their distrust of state sponsored violence. No where is this more clear than in places like New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and YES Texas. These are people who take their individual rights very seriously and what they saw in St. Paul bothered them.
One thing I was talking to Jon about though is the difficulty of spreading that message to less independently minded people – those who believe that police are always (unless proven otherwise in a court of law) in the right. In otherwords, the police can use force because they are the police and they are doing their job. Peace protestors do not have permission from the state to be rough. When they respond to the police they are considered wrong; when really, neither party is in the right. Moreover, the police (with all their state sponsored power) should have more restrictions on their behavior not less.
What do you think?
Well, the whole thing kind of exemplifies the problem with the strictly non-violent protest movement. The police have a distinct lack of restrictions. “Terrorism” has lengthened the authorities’ leash even more. Now, anyone who questions the state can and is viewed as an enemy. When faced with said “enemy,” the police react with crushing brutality in a show of force to discourage any opposition. It’s muscle-flexing at its basest.
Now, being libertarian socialists (which is a less bomb-throw-ey way of saying anarchists), it is in the opinion of the Ungovernable that non-violence must be maintained, but not at the cost of strength. As soon as the police get violent, we have the right to defend ourselves against egregious bodily harm. Protesters must take into account that they are, in the modern day and age, revolutionaries. A revolutionary should try to refrain from violence because it is brutal and bellicose and it weakens our message.
However, this is not the 1950s and 1960s. This is not the Civil Rights movement where a group of people are fighting against a group of racist politicians, public officials and citizens. During that struggle, there was a large majority to hear the outcry of the activists and understand that they deserved to be treated equally. Because of this sentiment, unconditional non-violence was effective. Modern day protesters go against everything that is deemed patriotic and we are seen as terrorists who would aid in the downfall of the American people. Therefore, we need to appear as peaceful as possible, but it needs to be made clear that we will not take any shit and that we are not push overs. We need to organize and defend. No one is going to do it for us. And the government is hell-bent on making it as difficult as possible.
I do respect the right of people to defend their person from violence – even (and especially) state violence. It does bother me when I see a small group of people comitting acts of violence agianst property. Not that I believe that property has feelings and can be acted violently at – but, attacking property insites state violence. 5 people breaking out from a black bloc to set fire to a cop car will litterally put the lives of HUNDREDS at risk. The stakes is high my friend and we gotta be MORE organized than them – which is difficult with a group of people who are ALL ABOUT not being told what to do. Just an interesting discussion.
Ahh, yet another common misconception about anarchists. We will organize to serve a purpose (such as protest, rally, revolt, etc..). The difference between anarchists and other political groups is that once the goal is achieved and the system overthrown, the anarchist group doesn’t try to set up a new system. On the contrary, it just disbands and everyone goes about their business. So, we aren’t anti-organization, just anti-authoritarian. It’s not impossible, it just takes time, patience and a lot of votes on everything.
As for the destructive few, they are problematic. But depending upon where you get your information, the actions of the black bloc members is different. On most news channels, the anarchists are shown destroying stuff before the police are shown delivering justice (read: insanely beating and macing civilians). For the most part, anarchists are peaceful and just want to show their power in numbers. They start getting destructive upon being attacked. The MSM decides to take the footage of the anarchists being destructive before the footage of the cops being assholes, so as to discredit us. I know some black bloc members are actually that destructive, but for the most part, we don’t want a battle.
Well, in my (albeit limited) experience with people who identify as anarchists that it’s a case by case basis. Some are so hell bent on pushing their own agenda through a consensus process that they are disruptive to ACTUALLY coming up with a compromise. Others adhere to the idea of real compromise based on group consensus. It’s dangerous whenever we lump a group of people together and say ‘we do this’ as in ‘we would take power from those who have it and then go about our business’. You have no idea what would happen – who would take power, ect. Anarchists have historically taken and abused power – look at what happened in Spain after the anarchist revolution.
I think you need some type of structure to maintain a society – and that’s why no matter who organizes for a revolution some one will end up in charge. We do not live as islands or intentional communities separate from one another. We need roads, clean water, health care, communication infrastructures, and YES defense of our boarders and rule of law. You will never convince me that we can handle these MONUMENTAL tasks as individuals or small communities.
It’s a shame that all of these essential aspects of life are corporate but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater….and especially, NEVER assume that you or your movement would be less tempted by corruption.
How do you know we can’t survive without structure and in small communities? It’s never been tried by modern humans. The early hunter gatherers did it and it has been suggested by scientists that those early communities were able to spend the majority of their time involved in recreation and that there was no war between them. Now, that sounds like a world that would be lovely to live in.
I’m not saying do away with healthcare, just make it a community issue instead of a national/commercial issue. Healthcare is a basic right and shouldn’t be a point of profit for anyone. Communication could be handled. Clean water existed before we invented purification techniques and it is still available. As for the “rule of law”, why? The animals don’t have it. The only rule is to not kill for any reason other than food or self defense. That is the only rule or law that exists. All of the other ones, we’ve made up. So, are laws an absolute must have? Not at all. Crime is a symptom of society. Do away with society, crime goes with it.
And regarding the Spanish Revolution after the civil war, it was the communists that caused the problems, not the anarchists. The communists may try to take over, but trying to reorganize a massive bureaucracy like a communist government after a total domestic breakdown is damn-near impossible especially in a country as diverse, huge and full of hard-headed egomaniacs like the U.S.
Ahhh, healthy debate. God, I love the internet. You’re thoughts?
I think I have no desire to go back to hunter gatherer days…and you’ll be hard pressed to find a community of people to join you. Animals lack the higher brain function that humans have (which is why we’re on top of the food chain and have been since we came out of the trees). That higher brain function makes us need other things besides basic shelter and food: Maslowe’s Hierarchy (I know you hate that word) of Needs http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://two.not2.org/psychosynthesis/articles/maslow.gif&imgrefurl=http://two.not2.org/psychosynthesis/articles/maslow.htm&h=609&w=600&sz=39&tbnid=gL_X1BloTscJ::&tbnh=136&tbnw=134&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmaslow%2527s%2Bhierarchy%2Bof%2Bneeds&usg=__Z2ds1XdHop7qMm_nIBERT_v5rWs=&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=2&ct=image&cd=1
We need self-esteem and self-actualization. These needs cause humans to act irrationally and against the ‘rule of nature’. Rule of Law came about to address issues of human fallibility. Animals, in nature, are perfect. We evolved out of our animal natures and now we require a new set of norms.
I’d like to see how you’d handle the communication issue. Radio, TV, THE INTERNET all require MASIVE infrastructures: cables, trucks to move the cables, machines to dig holes, poles to connect the cables…look at the Amish. They live communal lifestyles….you wanna live like that?
Well, I am familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy (and I’m ok with that word, in that context) and I agree with it, for the most part. I still fail to see, however, how it could not be applied to small, localized communities. Hunger and violence would be protected against by having a group of people who work together collectively to provide food for the community by raising crops, livestock, etc. The community would protect itself and its members from violence through simple pack mentality. The sense of love and belonging would be easily met by having a stronger connection to one’s family as well as to one’s community. Each individual in the community would be able to develop him or herself personally over time. Without having to waste time worrying about paying bills, going to a job that you hate and competing in some ridiculous commercial marketplace, people would have more time to develop themselves as artists, musicians, writers, scientists and doctors which would give them an ultimate sense of purpose and growth. If Maslow was right and these are the things that we as humans naturally strive for, then a simple community-based society would help us realize these things with more speed and efficiency than our current consumer-based way of life.
As for humans being at the top of the food chain, that may be true to a point. If placed in the wilderness with only his higher-brain function to protect him, I have serious doubt that man would find himself at the top of anything besides a tall tree while trying to escape a predator. We are simply technologically advanced. With guns, we’re at the top. With cars, we’re at the top. Strip people of there technological triumphs and you’ve got some of the most barbaric creatures that have ever walked the face of the planet. If it was out so called higher brain function that allowed us to invent the atomic bomb and napalm, then I’m not so sure I’m interested in embracing it.
As for the infrastructure and communication, we survived for quite some time without it and it could be argued that the world was a little bit nicer without it. In an anarchist society (if you can even call it that), radio would probably be returned to its original function. Imagine if the radio wasn’t run by the same three companies playing the same 50 or 60 songs over and over again, but by individuals who took time out of their days to broadcast their favorite music, read poetry, tell stories and spread what was going on in their communities. Radio might actually be worth listening to again! As for TV, it’s been pretty useless for quite some time. Reality TV, newscasts by stations owned by companies that have a special interest in the news NOT being broadcast truthfully, unfunny sitcoms. When you think about it, would you really miss TV that much? Perhaps if we turned off our TVs we’d talk to each other more.
The Internet is where I get a little conflicted. Although it has been nice to be able to access any information on any subject at any hour of the day, it could be a little bit unnecessary. With all of our information becoming electric, how will it survive? If we keep automating our stories, poems, journals, ideas, music and knowledge, where will it all go when we do lose power or have a massive hit to our infrastructure? And what about libraries? If everything is online, why bother keeping physical copies of it anymore? It does beg the question: do we really need the internet?
And you say communal living like it tastes bad in your mouth…
Communal living doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth – but farming does!!!! I am a writer and a designer and you imagine your living situation as completely idealistic and easy. Sir, believe me it is no such thing. I’ve spent some time in post conflict and conflict countries living with refugees in camps much like the communities you are describing. Many MANY other factors come into play which make camp life miserable BUT I will say that collecting rain for a cold shower every other day is one of them.
Also, what about communities that don’t have any luck with their farms. What if they have guns and come to take your crop? I’ve heard stories from Kosovars who experienced just that and they get freighted just thinking about it. you think people act crazy when the credit crunch is on – imagine what happens when they are starving and there is no rule of law.
Poo poo on technology all you want but it simply cannot be denied that technology produces both good and bad outcomes. I will not give up the good for the sake of purging the good (you could say the same for agrarian communal living).
As of 2004 only about 20% of all the information in the world was on the internet – most is still housed in libraries and museums. Also, do you know any serious writers or artists who don’t have printed versions of their work? I don’t. We can do without some of the bloggers in our national information archive anyway. Plus, I think we’d have a lot more to worry about if the internet crashed than the OpEd piece I wrote that only appeared in the online version. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the marketplace of ideas – but, I think most of what is on it will not be historically significant. What is significant is what we are all contributing (not at the same rate) to a forum.