|Bracing against the wind|
Saturday, March 22, 2003
The police didn't confiscate Pepsi bottles and wooden signs, like they did at the last one. I guess someone must have pointed out how fucked up that was.
When I asked about 10 cops if they were for the war, most of them didn't answer. One of them said something like, "I think we take Saddam out, but I guess some people don't agree", and one of them said that he "didn't know" what was right. Overall it seemed there were a completely different group of police safeguarding the march than the last time.
But then, at the end and just when the crowd was dispersing, we found out where the rest of the ones were hiding. At Washington Square, police in riot gear forced everyone to "clear the streets immediately". Of course, there was no "serve and protect" reason to do this. This simply created an immediate conflict, and, in the end, caused some people to get hurt. It takes a lot of time for a hundred thousand people to clear out of a very small park area.
As soon as they danced their gay-synchronized-crowd-control lockstep, everyone naturally stopped to watch it. This resulted in a massive traffic jam. The old couple I was with was getting jostled, I had to strongarm people out of their way. Then few kids got pissed off and a few more got arrested.
This is completely different than what they do at the Halloween parade or the St. Patricks parade, which attracts 10 times them number of people! If you want to have people in riot gear, put them on standby, in *case* the crowd gets rowdy - which it wasn't. If there are a few people acting rowdy, send in an someone to stop them. Throughout the march, the crowd was overwhelmingly accommodating of police, stepping out of their way when they needed to get places, etc. There was no reason for them to antagonize people.
It almost seems like some pro-war commanders created a confrontational situation in order to encourage arrests and therefore discourage future protests through televized fear. If so, it was a good move. It works. Many people I know who didn't go to this one said it was mostly because they were afraid of being arrested.
"Fear is the mind-killer." - Frank Herbert, Dune
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