Sunday, August 31, 2008
Bloggers Report Outrageous Police Actions in Minneapolis
There were plenty of mucho macho, paramilitary-style displays and actions by law enforcement and Secret Service officers in Denver during the DNC Convention. As I reported before, we'd run into one person holding a peace sign surrounded by a dozen officers in riot-SWAT gear with assault weapons, or a small group of older women wearing peace teeshirts drawing a crowd of mounted police, bicycle cops or guys in suits wearing earpieces. Or streets would be closed down for blocks because a small group was walking together and chanting a slogan.
However, as far as we know, nothing came close to the kind of police state behavior that's already going on in Minneapolis as the GOP arrives for their Convention in St. Paul.
Check out this piece by Glenn Greenwald, who's on the story with Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake -- which also has several articles on the situation in Minneapolis. Police in riot gear have been raiding houses, forcing people to lay on the floor while handcuffed, seizing their computers, arresting journalists and lawyers and generally running amok claiming they are uncovering potential "conspiracies -- without any evidence of lawbreaking of any kind. I sure hope the whole world is watching, but maybe it's our own citizens who should be paying the most attention and admitting certain dangerous realities about certain "security" obsessed law enforcement officials.
Serve and Protect?
We personally endured a few over-the-top, in-your-face intimidations in Denver. The worst came when the battery-operated scooter I was using to traverse the long distances between events broke down right before we were past the blocks long "security perimeter." The defective battery (one of two we encountered in my rented scooters) had been giving me trouble all night because it wouldn't hold a charge for long. I had gotten help from Convention volunteers and firefighters to recharge it enough to keep going very slowly, but it gave out again when I neared the exit from the Pepsi Center's secured area.
Two Secret Service agents were clearly peeved at this and ordered us to get the scooter out of there immediately, or else. They had beet red faces, were yelling loudly and were trying to be as intimidating and wise ass as they could. Oh, how they relish their power. When we explained we couldn't carry the heavy scooter ourselves and it shouldn't be pushed, they went ape shit. Questions or comments aren't allowed.
The beefy agents refused to help us or call anyone else over to help and just kept demanding we get the thing past the last barriers. One of them finally ordered me out of the scooter. He then half picked it up and half dragged it past the perimeter and threw it so hard against a concrete barrier that it almost overturned. Next came a nasty-assed grin. Pride in service!
We had the temerity to ask what we could do to get farther and they spouted a few epithets and said they didn't care if we spent the night there. They clearly detested being asked any questions, as they apparently perceive themselves as having unassailable and unlimited power to act as they desire, period. These types are really tough when it comes to dealing with a pair of gray-haired women, one of whom has mobility problems. After letting the scooter sit there for 20 minutes or so, it regained enough juice somehow that we managed to get it started so we could move at a snail's pace to an area where we could hail a cab to take us to our car.
A Cowed Citizenry
It was also instructive to watch our fellow citizens watch the inexcusable rudeness with which we were being treated. They stared, they saw, they fled. After all, the message was clear -- they could be next if they said a word. I'm convinced the authorities could have done whatever they felt like doing to us and nobody would have made a peep in our defense.
You see, intimidating tactics like those we witnessed do in fact work. The goal is to keep everyone quiet, obedient and unquestioning of any behavior on the part of "the authorities" and, quite often, it works. In fact, I'm sure it makes many people feel "safe" from "the terrorists" -- but it makes me feel like our civil liberties could easily go the way of video cassettes if the brutes among law enforcement are allowed to operate unrestrained.
It's especially ironic when Convention speakers are going on about enforcing the Constitution and Bill of Rights while right outside the door there are law enforcement entities acting like citizens exercising -- or even thinking about exercising -- their civil liberties are "the enemy." Not to mention the extreme threat posed by gray-haired women with a scooter with dead batteries. Priorities, priorities.
I thought it was interesting watching the NPR National News tonight -- interesting for what they weren't covering. Here were all these news folks with nothing much to do inside -- there was nothing going on with the convention. Why weren't they covering what was going on outside? Only the BBC news did that. I only learned about Amy Goodman being arrested (and released) from an e-mail, linked to IndyMedia.
Posted by: michelle meaders | Sep 1, 2008 8:37:28 PM