The following are three somewhat drawn out (close to 20 minutes total) videos representing the official response to the Saint Paul RNC police/protester interactions. Here we see the mayor (Chris Coleman) and the Police Chief Harrington giving statements, followed by a question period. The third video, at about 6 minutes, addresses the issue of journalists having been arrested.
Shown in these three videos are what seem to be the two most mealy-mouthed presentations to the press by prominent officials I’ve seen … ever, really. I really had no idea Chris Coleman was so inarticulate.
And what I see here is somewhat offensive. Even if one considers the antics of the “anarchists” in these demonstrations to be sophomoric or ill advised, they are not hardened criminals, and the police were not in danger (nor was anyone else, really) to the extent indicated by Harrington’s choice of words. Goodness. If the Saint Paul Police view this series of incidents as such a serious threat, then in my opinion Chief Harrington and his so called police force ought to grow some balls or get some training or something.
In some ways, these two guys resemble people who have been told to “…. go out on stage and make a good show or we’ll harm your family.” Anybody else see this?
I know these anarchists. Well, of course, I don’t know any of them personally, how would that ever happen. But clearly, and you know this is true from seeing the films, that the great bravery of the officers that is emphasized in these videos … in their fight against the dangerous intimidating masked criminals … is significantly overstated, absurdly touted. These anarchists are mostly 17 to 23 year old suburbanite turned urbanites, college students, untrained and inexperienced in the use of weapons or hand to hand combat.
Hey, big scary police guys wearing body armer and carrying big sticks, you do realize do you not that half of these dangerous masked criminals you felt so threatened by are girls wearing sun dresses (and goggles), and the other half, if you met them on the street, you would call fags?
Why are you so frightened of these people? These kids are not even close to the threatening hoard they are described as being. The kids themselves are indeed brave, if possibly (or possibly not) misguided, to stand up to the police like this, and apparently, they scared the shit out of the Men in Blue. And Black.
What seems most important here is the statement, again and again, that the police are wonderful and have acted in a most heroic manner. How much of this absurd, offensive, and totally unbelievable rhetoric is an outcome of the shift from viewing first responders (police included) as people doing a tough and important job to viewing first responders as saints, martyrs, and in essence, semi-demi-gods who are above the law, an attitude which in my opinion has arisen as an effect of 9-11?
In the meantime, we have calls for investigations of the Saint Paul police for their use of excessive force, and some very serious questions about the treatment, indeed suppression of the press.
From Amnesty International:
[London]–Amnesty International is concerned by allegations of excessive use of force and mass arrests by police at demonstrations in St. Paul, Minnesota during the Republican National Convention (RNC) from September 1-4, 2008. The human rights organization is calling on the city and county authorities to ensure that all allegations of ill-treatment and other abuses are impartially investigated, with a review of police tactics and weapons in the policing of demonstrations.
The organization’s concerns arise from media reports, video and photographic images which appear to show police officers deploying unnecessary and disproportionate use of non-lethal weapons on non-violent protesters marching through the streets or congregating outside the arena where the Convention was being held…. source
Meanwhile, back in Saint Paul:
Amy Goodman, the host of the popular radio and television program “Democracy Now!” was at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on Monday, interviewing members of the Alaska delegation, when her phone rang with alarming news.
“I got a call that two of our producers had been bloodied by the police,” Goodman said. “I did not stop running until I got to where they were.”
And then this happened:
In my view, the harassment of the press is outrageous, but I do fear that individuals who were assaulted by the police, treated poorly, and tossed in jail who don’t happen to be members of the press may be forgotten, or may not get as much support as the individuals from the press. This seems a little unfair to me.