Category: Iraq War
Posted: 09/01/08 21:06, Edited: 09/01/08 23:15
by Dave Mindeman
There was a very long and peaceful processional from the Capitol to the Xcel Center. A long line of people displaying their displeasure with a corrupt administration.
However, if you watched the news, you would think that the majority of protests were violent, disruptive, and lawbreaking. Pictures of broken windows and overturned newspaper stands seem to be much more interesting than marchers with banners or signs.
I don't know how many people were in the march... I heard too many different estimates to really be certain, but I would guess over 5,000 would be ballpark. Splinter groups of a few dozen each went out of their way to make trouble. Who got the coverage? I think you know.
Not all of the side protest groups were intent on violent behavior.
I saw one of the splinter groups at the corner of Jackson St. and 10th, just before the march began. This group roped off that intersection blocking traffic in all directions. They clearly wanted a confrontation with the police and they did get it....sort of.
They chanted their slogans and I watched a couple of police officers radio in. I assumed they were calling for more help, but they did something else first.
The first officer on the scene tried to get them to disperse. Of course, they refused. She (the officer) then broke some of the tape and got a few cars to move through. The anarchists (I guess I'll call them that for lack of a more definitive term) quickly closed the opening by standing in front of traffic.
The cars started to back up. More police cars made an appearance but most of the officers remained with their cars. The officer tried to work around the protesters without confronting them. They, in turn, didn't push the issue and eventually started to move down the street. However, it was only to set up another blockade one block furthur up the street.
A few more police officers moved into that block. Meanwhile, the first officer started to move traffic away from that particular street. Eventually, they cordoned off one direction.
One block furthur down, the protesters, again, chanted slogans and blocked the traffic. The police officers talked to them and moved the traffic around them when they could. A couple of other police officers then started moving traffic out of the intersection. It was strange but they forced the cars to move onto an interstate ramp -- even if they wanted to move forward. They just decided to move vehicles out of there.
One pickup truck driver started to get out of his vehicle and was about to head toward the protesters but one of the officers pointed directly at him and order him back into his vehicle. He meant business and the driver obliged. He, too, was directed to the ramp.
The protesters continued to do their "civil disobedience" and the police officers continued to work around them -- neither side seemed to be communicating or were confrontational. They just seemed to be occupying the same space.
Eventually, the protesters moved out of the area. The police directed traffic back to a normal pattern. Back-up teams of police were in the area but never got involved. Frankly, it was all quite peaceful, even though the entire incident went on for about 35 minutes.
To be honest, I thought the police handled the situation quite well. I guess the protesters made their point but if they were trying to get arrested, that didn't happen.
So, at least for this little corner of St. Paul, the drama played itself out -- nobody got hurt and everybody seemed to have their say. UPDATE:
Looks like later in the day the police got a little more frustrated and started mass arrests in questionable circumstances. Go to the UPTAKE
and check out their videos.