What's the scariest demonstration you have seen?

I was walking in Paris in '62 when a large number of angry Frenchmen walked down the street, waving their fists. They were shouting for the execution of a general in the Algerian war. I realized that they had a history of violent revolution.

During the riots in the '60s in Pittsburgh, I remember a tank posted on a corner not far from where I lived.

Oh, that kind of demonstration… :frowning:

[hijack]I was thinking about a safety demonstraion that my uncle attended on his first day as an intern in a big steel mill. The instructor in charge was talking about innocuous safety things and, without refering to them, removed two pairs of safety goggles from his drawer and placed them on the desk. One had a shard of steel piercing it and the other a splash of what was once molten metal splashed across it. The instructor finished his talk, but my uncle said the vision of those two goggles stayed with him for a lot longer than his words did.[/hijack]


I was right in the middle of the Poll Tax Riot in central London in 1990. Up a lamppost next to a burning building.

[post-hijack hijack]As for grimpixie’s verision of demonstration, our carpentry teacher at school once said to his class “this is why you should always put the guard up on the circular saw”… stuck his hand onto the blade, and cut off his thumb. I missed it, damnit. He only did that demo once.[post-hijack hijack]

Woah… only just read this. A tank?

I was in Tehran the summer of the Revolution.
My brother and I had visited the US Embassy a few months before it was attacked.

I remember taking lemonade out to the soldiers who were guarding the street where my aunt and uncle lived. I also remember quite a few demonstrations (I walked by - didn’t participate) where the US flags and effigies of US political figures were being burned.

Riots here in Pittsburgh??? WHY?

For me, I guess it was Quebec City. Although I was in the thick of tear gas, I didn’t see anyone get badly hurt, although I know that many people were.

I was freaked out by the cops shooting tear gas canisters directly at people, and even more freaked out when I found a used a tear gas canister and discovered that 1) it says right on the canister that you are not allowed to do that because 2) the fuck’n thing is the size of a coke can with five-millimetre walls. :eek:

Half of my affinity group got caught in a running battle and almost didn’t make it back to where we were staying. We had been teargassed in a café the night before, at the bottom of the hill, far away from any protests.

It was just so surreal to watch this big demo, which I’ve seen a dozen of exactly like it, turn into this huge cloud of tear-gas and pain through the actions of the police.
Nevertheless, I was never more frightened there than at this anti-police-brutality demo I was at a few years ago. About 100-200 of us had marched down to an office building where they were having a meeting on community policing, and while we were standing there chanting slogans, they just spontaneously attacked us. They chased us halfway along downtown before trying to trap us and beat the shit out of us. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I escaped, but a lot of people were beaten and arrested. I was scared shitless and crying (the only demo that’s left me so), and could scarcely walk after the police dispersed enough that we could come out of hiding and leave.

To this day, I haven’t a clue what made them decide to do that - the march had been one of the most peaceful I’d attended up until that point. Perhaps it was just pique.

Who were “they” in the above example?

And what exactly is an affinity group?

“they” is the police.

An affinity group is a small group of protesters who know each other and agree to stick together, look out for one another, etc. Mine called ourselves Fags and Dykes Against Neoliberal Globalization and Oppression, or FANDANGO.

I’ve never been caught up in a demonstration of the type I think the OP intends. At least not one where I was scared.

Type 2 demonstration:
I once watched a demonstration at which an armed U.S. Air Force jet fighter “attacked” some buildings, vehicles, and other targets for a firepower demonstration. Man, that was scary! One fighter plane can waste a lot of stuff in just one pass.

Type 3 (cool) demonstration, somewhat similar to jjimm’s tale. Professor in a college Reproductive Physiology course asked any student that could catch a ‘Possum to please bring it to class, for the purpose of dissection. The Opossum has a dual reproductive tract, which Prof thought would be cool to show to the class.

Guy catches one and brings it to class in a bag. Prof is going to demonstrate “how to kill a ‘Possum”, some method of holding the critter behind the head and jerking on the tail, thus severing the spinal cord and resulting in a painless death for the ‘Possum.
Prof gets his hands in place, jerks, and pulls his hand right into the ‘Possum’s mouth. The wild ‘Possum, still very much alive, proceeds to chew on prof’s fingers until blood flows like water. Prof extricates hand at last, and slams the ‘Possum up against the wall. A wag sitting in the back of the room says: “Now that’s how to kill a ‘Possum! End of tale, except that blood got all over my car seat, as I was elected to drive the Prof to the emergency room.

Yes, here I sit LMAO. Made even better by the Alabama in your location. Was this “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Professor” at work?

Drama is what happens to me; Comedy is what happens to you

As a counter demonstrator I have stood cheek by jowl with picketers from Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church. And Fred was pacing behind us pretending to preach. Sometimes he was but sometimes he was just mouthing obscenities at us. When Phred walks behind you it’s like a chilly breeze passing. He scared me.

*Originally posted by ShibbOleth *

Yes, here I sit LMAO. Made even better by the Alabama in your location. Was this “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Professor” at work?**

No, actually his first name was Earl. :smiley: And hey, if you’re gonna’ look for 'possums, where better than in Alabama?

I remember …

I was a foreign service brat around 5 years old. The Sudanese were rioting in the streets of Khartoum Shouting “Down Down USA”.

Jakarta in December of '99 (I think…). A tank was in the alley next to my hotel sitting behind a bunch of burned-out cars. soldiers kept us inside the hotel and away from the protesters/rioters. Pretty nasty.

Several years ago in Greenville, TX a church on the black side of town got burned down. Most people seemed to think it was done by some racist group, and the story even made it on the national news somehow. My friend’s brother was one of the top suspects just because he got pulled over with an empty gasoline can in the back of his truck that same night (despite the fact he had several black friends, including his roommate). Several days later the New Black Panthers showed up and had a demonstration, they marched through downtown and around the courthouse carrying shotguns, saying they were there to protect the black community since the police obviously weren’t. It wasn’t particularly scary, it’s just the only demonstration I’ve witnessed.

Later a local junkie admitted to having burned down the church, because the pastor refused to give him money. The fact that it was a black guy who did it failed to make national news.

When i was about 10 years old, i remember the KKK marching through my town. I had always thought of the Klan as being a small group, but this was bigger than many of the parades ive seen. There must have been literaly thousands of Klansmen.

I kinda think it was cool. It was one of the more unuasual things ive seen.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King, there were angry demonstations and riots in a number of U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland… In most cases, martial law was declared, with a curfew and meeting over a few people forbidden.
I actually got married in Phila. in violation of one of these edicts.

First of all:

matt_mcl: FANDANGO! I love it. I absolutely love it.

ShibbOleth: The possum story made me choke on my spit. :smiley:

Baker: Ever noticed how Fred doesn’t spend much time picketing Black churches around here? I’ts 'cause they send their biggest and manliest out to threaten to beat his ass to a pulp.

As for MY story, it’d have to be the Rodney King riots in Atlanta. I was a senior in college, and attending class on campus when the verdict came out. By the time I gathered my SO and started to head home, the shit had hit the fan. SWAT teams on campus, people screaming, people running, people throwing stuff (anyone remember the repeated video footage of that cop getting knocked down by a rock that someone lobbed at his face?)… My friend was in a science lab, and someone tossed a smoke bomb or something into the building. She passed out, and had to be carried out by a classmate.

Though we’d taken my car to campus, I was too shaken up to drive, and so handed the keys to the SO who, instead of taking the damn highway, insisted on driving through downtown Atlanta to witness the happenings there.

Then the car overheated and stalled, right in front of a Macy’s that was being looted. I sat, slackjawed and wetting myself, while my boyfriend contemplated running into the Macy’s for some free goodies.

He didn’t. By then I think he could tell that I wanted to lob a rock at HIS face.

Anyway, we eventually got on our way again and got home, where I had no fewer than EIGHT messages from friends and family members in other cities, freaked out about where I was and begging me NOT to do anything stupid (like loot a Macy’s?).

Hey auntie em, small world.

I also got caught in Atlanta’s Rodney King riot. I had been in Decatur on business, and was taking the MARTA train back to my office in downtown. (Not having heard what was going on there.) As I boarded the train in Decatur, there was a huge mob of black folks getting onto the train, heading downtown to join in the “fun.”

Weird thing is, it was actually sort of a festive atmosphere. The people getting on the train were mostly teenagers, and they were laughing and cutting up. Then about halfway into town the crowd started chanting “Kill the white people! Kill the white people!” (I kid you not.) There was one other white guy on the train.

I would have been more unnerved by this, except that the people chanting had not lost their festive mood. Several broke into giggles during the chant.

Maybe I should have been more worried. Turned out that a guy got beaten pretty badly at the Omni, a few MARTA stops away.

But anyhow, I made it back to my office without incident. From there, we had a view down Peachtree Street, including the Macy’s to which you refer. We saw the mob coming up the street, and then smashing their way into the store.

Had I known you were down there, I would’ve waved. :wink: