Possible RNC Protest Violence

I’m not sure if this is a General Questions issue or a Great Debates but, since it’s obviously a controversial subject, I figured I’d start here and save the moderators a headache.

By the way, you guys may want to read the following:


It’s from Salon, which means you’ll have to wade through some ads, but I think it’ll be worth your while.

I wound up going to some political meetings and getting on some newslist where there are far lefties and Naderheads involved. What a bunch of schmucks. If there isn’t going to be serious violence at the convention, I’ll eat my toes. This distresses me no end as, with President Jesus McChimp on the ropes, the last thing we need to do is hand Minister of Propaganda Karl Rove a Christmas present to scare mid-America with (this would be somewhat ironic as the one thing far righties and far lefties have in common is that they both hate liberals). Still, some of the protesters are telling me that I’m actually all wet. I’ve been told that my associating far-lefties such as anarchists with violence proves that I’m ignorant and, ahem, white. OK, so an anarchist once assassinated President William McKinley. Is it fair of me to stereotype on the basis of one splashy incident? I’ve also been told that all the violence associated at the big protest rallies was really the work of authorities and that protesters are just a bunch of innocents caught in a web of international deceit. Frankly, I don’t think so. Based on what I’m seeing, these boneheads don’t need a lot of help from instigators or overly-aggressive police to act out big time — not that that sort of thing hasn’t been known to happen.

So here’s what I’d like to do, and it’s a big one: Get a general handle and how much violence at rallies is actually the work of protesters or the police. At the 1968 DNC, it’s generally agreed that the violence was the work of the police and FBI infiltrators. But what about more recent ones like Seattle, Genoa and Montreal? How does one go about assessing that?

Idiots. Don’t they know that any such action will just irritate or endanger regular New Yorkers, who are mostly Democrats?

If they block the subways, poor people will not be able to get to work. If they block the streets, immigrant taxi drivers will not make money. I suspect most of these protestors are well-off suburbanites who have no idea how densely-packed New York is.

The way I size it up, Mehitabel, is that it’s not about taking effective political action so much as it’s about moral masterbation.

Frankly, I hate left wingers. They’re always destroying perfectly good political positions with their unwavering support.

But, back on subject, I wonder if anybody here was at Seattle, for example. I’ve seen protesters throw eggs at cops and break windows (and then have other protesters stupidly rally around the very people who are giving them a bad name) but, generally, the public evidence seems to be murky.

Their tactics DO seem to be self-defeating.
I have heard about the infiltrators, no one can Prove that, however.

Wouldn’t it be funny if they protested the Republican convention and nobody came?

As far as I can tell, and Matt_mcl would know better than I would, a large portion of the violence at such things is started by… well, people who want to start violence. Then it snowballs as the police try to sweep everyone up. Which is the way the people wanted it. They’re terrorists, and usually nihilists, rather than anarchists, if I remember right. In short, in every crowd, there’s usually at least one asshat, and in highly polarized ones, the asshats will tend to be highly polarized, themselves. Which means they’ll do stupid things.

Eh, life.

As much as I enjoy the idea of discrediting our more violent and stupid protesters, the fact is there HAS been a history of FBI infiltration, most notably under COINTELRPO. There was even a big, scandalous Senate investigation. See here: http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/cointel.htm

Then there were the utterly peaceful middle-aged, granola-headed anti-war activists shown by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11 who were infiltrated by a local cop. So the practice continues at least to the point where protesters don’t sound totally absurd when they claim they’re victims of government abuse and subversion.

On the other hand, I’ve figuratively gotten off my lazy ass and soiled myself by doing a little research. Here’s a very interesting assessment from the left-leaning Seattle Weekly of what went wrong at the 1999 IMF and World Bank meeting: http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0031/news-editors.shtml. This is their interpretation of events and it seems like they’re really trying to be fair in a hip sarcastic mode which I applaud. Here’s one of the more interesting quotes in the assigning blame category:

“First–and easiest to name–are those infamous ‘Eugene’ anarchists and their running dogs who, roiling through downtown like the river Styx, trashed select retailers in the belief that violence against property isn’t really violence. (It’s not? Stand between a window and a flying rock and tell us that don’t hurt!) WTO would not be a sickening and costly memory had it merely been shut down by nonviolent blockaders. That more peaceful tactic wouldn’t likely have drawn the head-bashing backlash and the enduring, Beirutlike images of a city at war. At the very least, it wouldn’t have given the police cover for their more questionable and outrageous acts.”

But mostly they blame Seattle public officials for keeping their heads in the sand and letting things spin out of control.

Interestingly for this style of paper, there’s also an account of how the Seattle cops saw things: http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0032/news-anderson.shtml

According to them, the protesters were exceeding viscious. Wouldn’t surprise me. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the cops also overreacted and started treating all protesters as equally guilting this inspiring yet more violence. But, here we have the clear opinion of people who you would generally expect to be protest supporters that the initial violence was commenced by protesters themselves.

I believe you, sir, its just hard to prove.

But if they’re violent, they’ll lose the discount they get from their Peaceful Protester Badge
At the battle in Seattle, it was readily apparent that you had two main trouble-making groups. One was a teensy minority of protesters who were looking for a fight-- easily identifiable by their bandanna-clad faces; the other was cops in riot gear who were itching for a fight, and unwilling to stop fighting until a block was completely empty, even if the handful of provocateurs were already arrested.

Uh, the Left is traditionally associated with Liberals. It is the counterpart to the Right and Conservatism.

Nothing would make the Republicans look better than for people protesting to become violent. As seen in the huge NYC demonstrations against the war in Iraq, only a very small percentage were arrested for misconduct.

Peaceniks and violence don’t jell.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Particularly if and how the news media covers the protests. Police reaction is liable to be particularly harsh and violent – one only need remember the treatment of peaceful protesters in Miami to worry about the potential for serious harm to anyone less than peaceful, or more likely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That’s if the police can handle the protesters at all. I think it’s possible that some demonstrations could overwhelm the police response, to the point where many, many people are hurt or killed.

Whether or not whatever happens plays into anyones political hand is pure guesswork. If the police response goes way overboard, it could put Bushco’s policies in a bad light.

As an aside, if I thought it would help get the current evil bastards out of office, I’d be on the front lines of any protest. It may be too late to save the environment, our economy and our world standing – but we’ve got to try.

Yep, except what you’re missing is that that particular distinction is one the far lefties don’t exactly respect. They accept us as allies when needed, of course, but generally hold us in contempt — sort of like the difference between a classic northeaster patrician type like Bush I and some Christian militia, Pat-Buchanin-supporting whack job. Why back as far as the 30’s a common insult among commies for their supposed allies was “lousy liberal” (not that I remember, but I know my history).

And my more recent experiences bear that out. Hell, the anarchists don’t even like democracy. The whole point of their movement is to do away with government, period. Liberals are considered too too “bourgeoise.” (Yes, someone used that very word in 2004. It’s amazing what incredibly hip and advanced thinkers anarchists are). :smack:

I have to say these looming protests have me worried. Yes, it may well affect my commute, but that’s not what bothers me. As braintree has suggested, I think that violent protests could play into the Republicans’ hands. A friend brought up the theory that the Republicans chose New York precisely because they wanted riots that they could show to middle Americans who don’t view Bush as the threat to peace that New Yorkers and most of the rest of the world do some scenes of violence with the intention to put them off voting Democratic. I hope I’m worrying too much, but the potential propaganda value of this could be Bush’s last chance to surge in the polls.

The CoIntelPro angle is one I hadn’t thought of, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if there are pro-Republican agents who have infiltrated the protesters in order to make them more violent and serve Bush’s desire to tar Democrats as a bunch of radical loonies. Personally, I’m all for peaceful protests, but it seems that what’s coming is going to be anything but peaceful. Mayor Bloomberg has been a pain in the ass to the protesters, just like he was during the February 15, 2003 anti-Iraq war protesters.

If any violence happens, I hope it’ll serve only to discredit the violent, and not the Kerry campaign. You can bet that Bush will do all he can to tie any violence that happens to Kerry. Kerry’s definitely going to be laying low for this one; the last thing he’ll want is to have his name appear in the news next to such violence.

I heard a story on NPR this morning about the saboteurs who’ll be out there to confuse the Republicans. One said she would dress up like a Republican guide, but would give directions like “take the H train to Ester Place, then walk three blocks east. You can’t miss it!” Of course, there’s no H train or Ester Place, as we New Yorkers well know, but those aren’t fake-sounding directions at all, if you’re unfamiliar with the city. Even this mischief is over the top. There was a fake-welcome guide for Republicans in this month’s New Yorker magazine, but there was also a cartoon with talking dogs, and I appreciated the humor in each. I wouldn’t recommend using this information to help anyone navigate the city or any other situations.

It’s certainly in poor taste for the Republicans to hold their convention in New York City. Their designs on capitalizing on the World Trade Center attacks, which the were pretty open about in 2002, are appalling. Further, it’s just insulting that the single most partisan president in decades—no, in generations—should find it appropriate to hold a renomination convention in the city with some of the fiercest opposition to the candidate in the country. Considering the lay of the current electoral map, the Republican Party would probably be better off holding its convention in cities that are squarely in the political battleground, and where they could muster more than something like 17% of the locals to actually vote for them. Pittsburgh, for example, would have been a better choice for them. Or Cleveland. Detroit. Las Vegas. Kansas City. Minneapolis. St. Louis. Denver. New Orleans. I’m serious here; Houston or Atlanta would be pointless, what with their being so squarely in Republican territory, while choosing any city in Florida would probably rub too many people the wrong way.

I’ll be going to work every day while the convention is raging. My train doesn’t go anywhere near Madison Square Garden, but it does pass under the World Trade Center site, which will no doubt have more visitors than usual. With any luck, the protesters will remain peaceful, and any violent ones won’t provide any negative blowback on Kerry. With more luck, the media will choose to ignore the Republican Convention as much as it did the Democratic Convention.

Heavy rain would keep a damper on things, too—but that’s not something you can count on, of course.

For what it’s worth, my way of protesting the convention was to have a T-shirt printed up with the following:

Dear Republicans,

Thank you so much for coming to New York and exploiting the pain and suffering we experienced on 9/11.

Your gesture is sincerely appreciated.

Please feel free to go Dick Cheney yourselves.

Actually Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., relates a story in his autobiography. When he was working for the OSS during WWII, he had to deal frequently with a Communist in the South American Bureau of the State Department. This individual recommended that the State Department support a militarist strongman over a liberal. Marxians, of course, believe that liberals only appease the working class, making it possible for an unjust system to continue.

Actually, I thought it was a gesture of confidence in the safety of my city that the Repubs announced they were coming here. It was a couple of years ago that they chose NY, after all, before the war, etc. Tourism was down so much that they decided to give the city a boost, and I still appreciate it although it looks like it won’t give much of a boost after all.

I also think that a political party, no matter which one, engaging in their processes a mile from Ground Zero is a nice big Fuck You to Osama. I can’t get mad at them. I hope masses of them visit Ground Zero itself; I wish every American would.

I’ll be welcoming and friendly and give good directions. I may be a Democrat but I’m not a jerk.

  1. Karl Rove was originally going to put the conventioneers in an ocean liner on the Hudson. It was only after a lot of complaining that he relented and left them free to stay in our hotels. Some confidence and some boost.
  2. A much better fuck-you to Osama would have been to kill the bastard when we had the chance rather than starting a “damn fool war” in Iraq: a monsterously expensive recruitment campaign for al Qaeda.
  3. For the best view of the World Trade Center site, take the PATH train. It only lasts for about 30 seconds between the end of the line and the tunnel to Jersey City but let me assure you that you get one disturbingly intimate view of the “bath tub.”

SOME of the conventioneers, not all of them. It’s quite a burden for the smaller and poorer states to be staying in NY–if you look at the pattern of where they’re staying, the small states are way up on the West Side or even Queens. It turns out it would be more expensive, not less, so he abandoned it. I agree it was a boneheaded thing to make public, though.

Yep, absolutely nobody’s looking for Osama now! If we had more soldiers we could knock down every door in western Pakistan! That’d work!

The PATH train is the best view. Just pay the fare and go downstairs, you don’t have to even get on and go to The Other State.

The hotel rates have always been high in New York and Boston. You don’t see the Democrats talking about getting cruise ships. And it’s the Republicans who have more money.

First, that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we let Osama get away at Tora Bora when we had him cornered or the fact that Bush decided to forget about him and go after Saddam who was not a threat to us and didn’t kill almost 3,000 people here in our city. So, I really don’t see the point of your sarcasm. Second, Osama is 6 foot 6 and on dialysis and I’m supposed to believe we can’t catch this guy?

True enough. But the train takes you around it so you get to see a couple of different angles close up in quick succession. Believe me, it gets to you.