Ever seen the film Children of Men? Post-apocalyptic film where England is a police state and grayish activists represent an underground trying to overthrow the government and spark the revolution. All the media is state controlled and immigrants and dissidents are rounded up and put in walled cities to keep them away from “normal” society. At the end of the film is bloody street fighting between the underground and the police state.
That was the scene in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention this week. I’ve been to many mobilizations and the police response seems to get just worse and worse.
Over the weekend, joint strike forces of local, county, state and federal authorities staged pre-emptive raids on the RNC Welcoming Committee’s convergence space and three homes looking for individuals and “dangerous” materials.
On Monday, during a 10,000 strong peace march, bands of direct action minded affinity groups spread out to “swarm, seize and stay” at various part of downtown St. Paul to crash and disrupt it, but like the underground in “Children of Men” police turned downtown St. Paul into a war zone and attacked and attacked. Honestly, for their part the affinity groups fought back, damaged property and disrupted business as usual in the Twin Cities.
But the police couldn’t cope with it on their own, so they brought in the National Guard. They fired concussion and flash grenades. They fired tear gas. They used their tasers and rubber bullets. And they used a hell of a lot of pepper spray.
Any media that got in the way were quickly arrested and assaulted along with the “masked criminals.” After two Democracy Now! producers and an AP photographer were arrested, D Now’s host Amy Goodman tried to find out why the police were arresting her colleagues for reporting the news and was arrested as well.
On Tuesday, the police canceled a Rage Against the Machine concert which sparked the band to lead the crowd off on a march to join the Poor People’s March chanting “Fuck You, I won’t do what you tell me!” The police attacked that march as well.
Today, it’s been reported that Twin Cities law enforcement is harassing activists doing a vigil outside the jail.
It’s also been reported that eight organizers are charged with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism”
I don’t always agree with mixing it up with the cops as an effective method of social change, but the police response has been out of proportion to activist plans.