>just another week in pepper spray history

>I’m getting a kick out of watching the “other” news of the RNC, that is, the protests outside the convention that are not really being covered much by the mainstream news. But first, here’s a recruitment video made by the RNC Welcoming Committee (an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body) prior to the convention:


I love it. Fun, goofy, and it indicates a major aspect of the protests, that is, they’re thrilling to do. In other words, being a protester, though driven by apparently deeper meanings, is also something people do because it’s an exciting form of entertainment – like playing sports, but more important. I have to say that after watching the following videos I would much rather be with the protesters than inside the convention, though I am not so anarchist in my philosophy, or so anti-authoritarian in my reactions – though I am a little of both.

This video also highlights the reality that contemporary political/social movements are leveraging new media forms with aplomb. Modern protests are far more organized and prepared than they used to be, but so is the response.

[Side Note: So far eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee have been arrested and charged as terrorists. Plus the I-Witness Video Collective has been evicted from their offices after police raided their building on what look to be trumped up charges. That group was responsible for videotaping much of the 2004 RNC protests and those videos led to most of the cases against the arrested protesters to be dropped. Apparently case after case the videos showed the police officers had lied. That may be why the police don’t want cameras taping them this time around.]

Now that it’s been a couple of days since the initial protests outside the RNC a number of videos have been appearing online. The first three below are video/photo collages that offer some overview of what is going on. There is some overlapping content between the three videos. At a minimum these collages offer some interesting psychological and sociological data to consider.

Finally, here is one of the most interesting, entertaining, and low quality (read verité) videos from the protests. I love the personal commentary.

Of course, one has to ask if any of these protests, violent or peaceful, have any objective value beyond the personal sense of making a statement. It is important to make statements, to carry signs and rant, to march and, hopefully, get on the news, but what is actually accomplished? The RNC continued on as though no one is protesting, as though the protests are so insignificant and inconsequential as to not even warrant a sideways glance. I also believe some of the same protests were deserved at the DNC, but I don’t remember if there were any.

I am reminded of two quotes by Mahatma Gandhi:

“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.”

“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

These quotes underline the balancing acts in both effective protesting and in cracking down on protesters. Both sides have to live with the consequences of their actions, and ask the question “what really was accomplished.” I cannot help but think the actions and the style of the police will only lay the foundation for more of the same, and then bigger and more substantial protests. In the end the police, and those who back them, will likely lose the battle. In the mean time I fear many citizens will be hurt.

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