Monday, September 01, 2008

My Hippie Roots

Are showing, I'm afraid. I guess you can't ever take the flower child out of the conservative . . .

I've been following the stories surrounding the protests that have taken place during both the DNC and the RNC.

As Newsweek blogger local to the action put it, "It was like we'd entered a time warp and gone back to 1968." He was referring to the riots that took place after the death of Martin Luther King. In reference to the modern day protests, he said, everyone on the scene played their roles to the hilt. Especially law enforcement. One wry statement, directed at a story further down my page, was "Apparently, swat teams still don't like flowers".

Look, before I go on here, let me say this--

Some protestors are violent and should be kept from doing damage to property or people, I get that.

Some anarchist nut cases who are bent on over-throwing the government should probably be contained. I get that too.

But stories like this leave me wanting to order an investigation and some large scale firings: Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus is confiscated and educators left stranded. Now before you get excited about the name (because I certainly would have if I didn't already know something about them)--this is who these people are: Skills for the New Millenium Tour and this is who they're affiliated with: Earth Activist Training. As you can see they're up to all kinds of no-good--educating people as to how to take care of themselves by growing gardens, raising small livestock, and building ecologically friendly homes. Their target audience in this case was low-income people because they feel that population needs this kind of education the most. Wow. What militant types.

What gets me about this is that these people had been in the area since August. Law enforcement knew they were there because they'd been in touch with them. They had a large bus and they had to get special permission to park it. This would have been backlash because of their affiliation with an environmental activitist, expert peaceful protest organizer, permaculture educator, author of multiple books, washington post writer, and one of the founders of their organization, known as Starhawk (she's a strange, but interesting character who would make a great character in a book and while I disagree with her beliefs, I respect her passion).

But that was just the one story with the clearest wrongs marked out. There are others. Over the last two weeks or so, there's been report after report of local law enforcement agencies, state troopers, and the FBI breaking down doors at the meeting places and homes of would-be protestors. They're arresting people without telling them why, claiming buildings "aren't up to code" and boarding them up, handcuffing, interrogating, and generally intimidating anyone associated with them. This includes journalists like Amy Goodman and her producers.

And finally there's the one that finally bothered me enough to blog about it: Girl pepper sprayed for offering swat team flower. The fact that they pepper sprayed a non-violent protester was bad enough, but then they sprayed her again as she left and was several feet away.

And don't think this was exclusive to the RNC either (It would be easy enough to villify the Republicans, but I prefer the truth). This also went on at the DNC in Denver with a nearly identical story of preemptive arrests and buildings being closed. Police Over react at Convention Quoting from the article:

Another exchange between police and protesters that was caught on video seems to capture excessive police action. In the video, a member of the antiwar group CodePink: Women for Peace is seen being knocked to the ground by a police officer using his baton and screaming "Back up, bitch." She is then arrested.
and later on in the article:
An ABC News producer was arrested when he and his camera crew were outside the Brown Palace Hotel, on a sidewalk, trying to get pictures of corporate lobbyists and other big donors and Democratic senators coming out of a private gathering.

It's no wonder in my mind that this evolved into: a violent protest. And interestingly, it depends on who you listen to as to what how violent it actually got and who was the worst behaved.

I am concerned about our country for many reasons, but of late I am wondering if we're missing something significant. Emotions are running high, people are tired of leaders who have forgotten why they were elected. The divisions are sharp, and the "them and us" mindset has set in (the haves and the have-nots, the "socialists" and the "capitalists" the conservatives and the liberals). I am concerned that our government is out of control, that they are so very out of touch that they're more interested in staying in power and maintaining all the advantages that go with it than they are in serving the people support them. We're in still in a democratic state, but at times like this, it's not hard to imagine that changing.


Dennis Bryant said...

I note that for a few hours, everyone seemed to sincerely pull together in the face of another potential disaster in New Orleans. This morning the long kinives are back out again. I wonder how bad it is going to have to get before it dawns on everyone that we're all in this together...

Scotty said...

I hear ya, Mary - politicians seem to forget very easily why they were put there, don't they? It's so they can serve the people, not themselves.

As for your other point...

some people can't find the good in anything no matter how hard they look and others can find the bad in just about everything with very little effort at all.

We live in a sad world.

Mary Paddock said...

Dennis, it's almost as though we need a central tragedy to pull us together anymore.

It is sad, Scotty. And at times like this, worrisome.

Anybody for a universal round of Koom-by-ya?