Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I leave and all hell breaks loose

I went to the protest yesterday in front of the state capital here in St. Paul - I rode my bike and had a very nice time.

I chatted with folks, had a coke, walked around and sat in the shade under a tree. There were lots of kids and very peaceful folks, I was enjoying myself immensely.

I began to get hot and tired, though - it was very hot here yesterday - and didn't relish a long bike ride home while exhausted. I figured it was enough to attend the rally, I really didn't need to participate in the march to the Xcel center.

So I rode/pushed my bike up the hill by St. Paul's Cathedral, and just happened to pass a group of black-clad, masked folks (they looked like kids pretending to be anarchists)

I snapped a few shots of them as they strolled/ran past, surrounded with happy families and lots of kids. I loved this shot, "Disabled anarchist on the go!"

Then I rode home, stopping at our food coop for some groceries and The Yarnery for a ball of yarn.

I didn't think much more about the march except to reflect on how nice everyone seemed, and what a good time I'd had (and how proud/tired I was after my 6.8 mile bike ride)

Gerry was volunteering for www.freepress.net doing sound and teleprompter at the convention last night, and called to tell me that Amy Goodman at Democracy Now had been arrested.

That was the first hint I had that any violence had broken out. The more I read, the more I think the catalyst may have been the masked group that I passed, in all the shots I've seen of folks throwing things they've been dressed like that group.

I know that everyone I'd met had been passionate, but very peaceful.

This group had a different vibe (but not alarming) and I wasn't scared or anything when I saw them.

But they did seem very pumped up, enervated, a different feeling from the rest of the group back at the capital. I'm not saying they were wrong or right (I wasn't there) but - as we all know - in heightened tension situations, it's possible for provocative behavior to get out of hand.

Did that happen here? I don't know. I was struck by how friendly, restrained and patient the police had been (riding around on bikes, chatting with folks) in the early part of the march.

But it also seems that 284 folks being arrested is a bit insane, given the peaceable spirit of the rally before the march. Oh, and I disagree that there were only 10,000 - I know there weren't 50,000, but there were many more than 10,000.

See what happens when I leave you kids alone?
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posted by Annie at

14 Comments:

Blogger Guinifer said...

Could be they were a little pre-conditioned to violent behavior because of the pre-emptive house raids and arrests holding people for up to 36 hours!!!

September 02, 2008 1:57 PM  
Blogger OfTroy said...

shades of what happened 4 years ago in NYC--apparently, protesting is now illegal.

(or so the GOP admin would have you believe)

many of those arrested 4 year ago, sucessfully sued the city for illegal arrests.

CCTV cameras (from various building) showed clearly that the protest then were peaceful, and that there was no reason to arrest many of the peaceful protesters.

even the not so peaceful protesters weren't breaking the law, they were just NOISY.

I suspect its a repeat of 4 years ago--and i hope those arrested are as successful in 1) having the charges dismissed, and 2) sueing for breach of civil rights.

One of the worst abuses of the current adminstration has been the eroding of our civil rights.

We are being told, just assembling and verbalizing our discontent is a terrorist threat. the real threat come from the failure of those we have elected to preserve our rights!

September 02, 2008 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit disturbed by all that's been going on around these conventions. I'm pretty young and lived out of the US for some of my childhood...has it always been like this? I wonder if it has and the changing nature of the news just means we hear about it when we wouldn't before.

September 02, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

You don't want me to say what I think about the Republicanazi administration, Annie. Suffice it to say that civil rights have gone by the board (or will be totally abolished shortly).

September 02, 2008 6:50 PM  
Blogger Kim-n-Cocoa said...

One thing to remember,( I have an 'acquaintance' that does this) there are "protestors" that don't really care what the event is that they are 'protesting.' They are brought in by people and RELISH the idea of causing trouble. The more times they can get arrested the better. *I* personally think that this is a crappy idea. If you believe in something stand up for it. Proudly. No matter WHAT it is. Usually you can tell the 'paid' protestors because they are affraid to show their faces. To me they aren't real and all they do is sucessfully cause people to distrust protests and to hate the causes that these paid folks show up at. Here in Houston they cause MAJOR amounts of damage to private businesses AND caused innocent people to get hurt when they (the paid ones) ran from the police and basically trampled the folks that were peacefully protesting or watching the protest.

It's pretty bad when the KKK and anti-KKK folks can protest each other more peacefully than anti-war protests eh?

September 02, 2008 7:15 PM  
Anonymous twinsetellen said...

Annie, I'm glad you got out when you did. I've heard at least one report of people being arrested who were just there, not actually protesting. You never know, they may not have allowed yarn delivers into prison, and I am pretty sure pointy sticks would be right out.

BTW, I've also heard that some of the protests were, in fact, violent. At least that is what I consider bleach thrown on delegates and bricks thrown through bus windows. I'm as appalled by the encroachment on civil rights as most anyone, but this is not the way to protest.

September 02, 2008 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two hundred forty some arrests might be a bit excessive, but there were very disturbing images on tv last night of windows being broken out of Macy's and one of the bank buildings, feces down the side of a police car, caustic substances sprayed on one of the delegations resulting in and 80 year old being taken to the hospital, car and bus windows broken and tires slashed, and a variety of things being thrown into the street. I'm not a Republican but this is my city and I would guess a number of the masked protesters (be adult enough to stand up for what you believe by not hiding)are not from here. My husband was at the march and he said it was a wonderful amalgamation of people who were getting their points across without destroying something that belonged to someone else. When asked what their purpose was, one couldn't answer and another said it was to be disruptive to get attention but he had no cause for which to get attention. Grow up.

September 02, 2008 8:33 PM  
Blogger Stephanie M said...

I was nursing my youngest when the WTO protests here in Seattle turned into riots. There were so many people there who were not violent protesters, and some who weren't. Who do we remember now?

The arrests in St Paul before the events are the ones that disturb me the most. I understand police overreacting in an unknown situation, but I do not understand going after people before they have done anything wrong (and it didn't make any difference, now did it?). I've heard enough today from folks who were there to make me think that somehow, this was more than police being protective of the peace. "I don't need a badge, dammit"

I'm not a paranoid individual, but this is very disturbing. Thanks for your reporting on this. Glad you are all fine.

September 02, 2008 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

I was worried about you a bit! That said, I have a tough time believing the window-breakers and violent violent protesters are *real* protesters -- I think someone's bringing them in to cause a stink and deflect from the real issues. Make the "real" (peaceful) protesters look bad, you know?

September 03, 2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I am glad you made your way home safely. My oldest daughter (college freshman) was volunteering at the convention unloading buses. When she stopped by late Monday night after a full day in the sun, her eyes were very wide! She was at the lot with the buses that had sandbags dropped on them from overpasses. So, I'm wondering what kind of lesson she learned from the peaceful protests? Which set of protesters will she remember more? I am glad she's working there, however, just like I'm glad you decided to go as well.
It does seem unreal, however, to see it all in Saint Paul.

September 04, 2008 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Susan Jane said...

Consideration of the present Republican candidates has had me frothing at the mouth pretty regularly, but I'm glad you weren't caught up in anything bad (and I wish the fake "protesters" would just stay home so the rest of us could get our points across.) Let's hope the real protest occurs on Election Day.
Ball of yarn-- was it a pretty one? What's on your needles for fun?

September 04, 2008 6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a teeny correction for you Annie---might have just been a slip of the keyboard. Our Cathedral in St. Paul is St. Paul's Cathedral, not that other saint "P". ;-)

September 04, 2008 2:21 PM  
OpenID mwknitter said...

Shades of Chicago 1968. I was there - not when they horrible fighting occurred but earlier (when the atmosphere in Grant Park was like a big happy picnic) & later when it spread to my neighborhood with cops chasing people who were just walking by & hitting them with night sticks. The Walker Report called it a police riot & that's exactly what it was - crazed, out of control cops who just whomped anyone they saw. It was like a bull seeing red.

September 09, 2008 10:08 AM  
OpenID mwknitter said...

One other comment I forgot to include: it turned out that the most aggressive instigators amongst the protestors were under cover LE - agent provocateurs.

September 09, 2008 10:10 AM  

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