There's a demonstration planned for tonight. Intel is concerned that a relatively small group will try to do some damage, block some streets. Just generally annoy a bunch of commuters and maybe try to provoke an over-reaction from the officers.
I categorize it as a nuisance crime. Like an open sewer or littering it just inconveniences a bunch of people. Officers who in day-to-day duties don't have enough time or resources in tight budgets to hunt down and arrest violent offenders with active warrants will be forced, with a huge overtime bill, to do what amounts to baby sitting.
I've talked with some of the protesters at previous demonstrations that turned to riots. They spout a very consistant and persistant rhetoric but if you talk closer and ask questions about fundamentals of economics or political theory or philosophy it becomes quickly clear that they are repeating words they don't understand (REAL DIALOGUE COMING UP. NO KIDDING): Protester: "When Thomas Jefferson used Nietzche's philosophy to create America he would have been apalled at what you are doing here." Me: "Jefferson was dead before Nietzche was born. Locke was the primary philosophical influence on the American Revolution." Him: "Really? You're pretty cool. If you weren't a cop we could hang out."
Ignorance bothers me a little. Hypocricy bother me more. Local groups have been practicing for some time how to lunge at an officer hoping to provoke a baton strike or an OC spray with cameras waiting; how to frighten or cripple the mounted patrol's horses with firecrackers or ball bearings. Maybe it's not hypocricy. Maybe those particular protesters aren't also animal rights activists. Maybe the ones who block streets at rush hour are actually for the pollution and petroleum industries and are just helping out by freezing people in traffic. Maybe the ones who yell for individual rights and freedoms aren't the ones keeping people from going home.
It's about attention, pure and simple. A bunch of kids that for the moment want all eyes turned to them. Want to feel that they stood toe to toe and eye to eye with a monolithic force represented by the police. Want to feel brave and special and important... but do it safely. Protesting in a nation where it is safe to do so and if you play the litigation card right you can make money doing it.
The first time I was out on one of these, my wife watched obsessively on the TV. At one point, as a line of police in riot gear sealed off a street, the protesters started chanting, "This is what a police state looks like!"
According to the kids, my wife was screaming at the TV, "No it isn't you morons! In a police state they machine gun the lot of you and the ones who limp home each find one family member missing! That's what a fucking police state looks like!"
But what would she know about that, a simple Eastern Bloc refugee like her?
So the kids will chant and scream and taunt. The officers behind their riot gear might be bored or might be thinking about the "Emotionally disturbed person with a knife" call from last night. The protesters will read their list of grievances and the officers will compare it to a list of victims they have known and tried to help: cheated old folks, abuse victims, assault victims beaten so badly...
So I'm hoping for a good rainstorm. This level of social justice is pretty much limited to comfortable weather.
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