This was a comment to BooMan’s frontpage article today about arrests of anarchists.  I post the comment here, following some additional video evidence I’ve uncovered.

Video of some of the arrestees.

Video of Anarchist Amy Goodman being arrested today..

More video of the vicious “anarchist” actions, with the well reasoned response of police officers on the scene..

Here is my comment to BooMan’s bit:

Call me a contrarian if you will, but I feel compelled to make a few points about the relative actions of my “anarchist” brothers and sisters, and the police.

Point one.  When reviewing these exchanges between the “anarchists” and the “police,” please consider the actions that are being described as “violent.”  I read over the diary that BooMan cited from Daily Kos, which sets out one persons view of this protest.  I will not quote passages.  If you are interested, read it for yourself.  But you will note the witness to these events describing the protesters as “not peaceful” because they wore black colors and face masks and carried dumpsters in tow and chanted and dropped trash and overturned dumpsters.  They threw bottles at the police (no context as to whom, how many, or under what conditions).  I’m just not going to list the litany of what the witness described, but go read it.  Critically.  The witness goes on to describe how the “they” became “more violent” as “they” attacked unoccupied police vehicles.  At this point, the witness was gassed by the police.  The witness reports, essentially, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

BooMan’s concern with how these “anarchists” will be connected with the left, because they are carrying anti-Bush signs, tells me that the frame of reference for “anarchist” protest that has been set forth by the authorities since Seattle and now (post 9/11) has taken full hold.

Statements like “these anarchists were not peaceful” and “these anarchists were violent” should be critically evaluated.  I read nothing in the proffered statement of fact (the linked diary) that indicated any “anarchist” injured or offered to injure any person, animal, or blade of grass (with the possible exception of throwing a bottle at police officers, about which I’d like to know more).  Some “anarchists” apparently engaged in the destruction of property (where people were not present or injured).  No one was apparently injured by any “anarchist” action.  Yet the conclusion must follow that the “anarchists” were “not peaceful” and “violent.”  Post 9/11 laws have certainly been strengthened to go after “domestic terrorists” even for property damage.  But this is a troubling development to people who consider vigorous dissent/protest.  Consider the Boston Tea Party, with the Bostonians being charged as terrorists.  Or consider these laws being stretched to squelch the Civil Rights movement.  “Are you trespassing at this lunch counter, ma’am?”  The “anarchists’ ” actions in trying to take back a street, a public space, while our 1st Amendment rights to assembly and redress are being herded into safe-protest zones, and their actions to protest for those who are threatened by pre-emptive search warrants to roust others from solidarity, falls in a long and honorable line of dissent and civil disobedience.  Naturally, it may be looked upon unfavorably by the ruling class, and the ruling-class elect.  But this is America.  Political dissent should be allowed, property crimes should be prosecuted accordingly.

Note, here on the left-leaning blog, the first cry on this issue is not about the actual violence used by the police.  Tear gas.  Rubber bullets.  Used indiscriminately against those who may have been “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and those “anarchists” alike, regardless of individualized criminal suspicion.  This is now, essentially, accepted practice.  If you are an activist, you are now familiar with the sight of paid soldiers in full body armor with lethal and non-lethal force in tow.  Stormtroopers.  On the street for any political event of any import.  To challenge the lawful dissent of the governed.  Not really a problem.  Not for those on the “left.”  Just accepted.  And I point it out, because I ask readers here to think critically.  Those “anarchists” have the right and duty of all Americans, to stand up and oppose bad governance.  Those that cross the line into “civil disobedience” and “property crime” will undoubtedly be prosecuted, along with many others who are detained and possibly prosecuted for being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”  Is this the America we want to embrace without question?  For me, it is not.  For me, I suspect that if there was not army of police, there would be young people in the street having their democratic say, without violence.  That is my hunch.  And I know the political powers that be would not like that.  They are sheltered from the riff-raff who actually live and die under their governance.  I find it somewhat sad that the “opposition party” couldn’t take a bit of the self-sacrificing spirit displayed by those “anarchists” who will be convicted criminals for standing up as voices of political dissent this week, and go back to Congress with it and start war-crimes’ prosecutions and various other forms of redress designed to restore all our freedoms.

Point two.  I used the term “anarchist” in quotes above.  It is the label applied by BooMan.  It is not the label applied by the eye-witness account to which he links.  The eye-witness account talks about the group as “protesters” and “they.”  Two sub-points here.    First, the term “anarchist” in general, seems to me to be so  overly broad as to define almost nothing in particular.  Some may call Noam Chomsky an “anarcho-syndicalist.”  Some may apply the term “green anarchist” to primitivist John Zerzan.  I call myself an “anarchist in theory,” a bastardization of the term (mostly due to my own inability to put into practice what I know to be true — that authority is contrary to liberty and must be challenged).  The label “anarchist” has been used in this country as a scare tactic.  Sacco & Vanzetti.  A label associated with violence and terror.  And not fairly so, if we talk of “anarchy” in any philosophical sense, at least in my view.  To someone who reads anarchist thoughts, and thinks they have much potential application to our world, I hear the word “anarchist” used in the way it is by the BooMan here, much like a dog-whistle.  Like the way Lou Dobbs uses the word “illegal immigrant worker.”  This is an element of the left the BooMan would seemingly like to wish away at this convention, at least as I read it (and I’m sure I’ll stand corrected).  These were a group of individuals taking direct action to challenge a government that we all know has failed them, and us.  I haven’t heard from their “spokesperson” and I doubt I will, so I don’t know the label they’d like to apply.  “Patriots.”  “Citizens.”  Free men and women.  “Democrats.”  I dunno.  And, yes, maybe “anarchists.”  Maybe proud, active “anarchists.”  But for now, the underlying report used as a citation called them “protesters” and “they.”  And I’ll stick with that until they clarify their own labels.  Which leads me to sub-point two.  The eye-witness identified the group as approaching or exceeding one-hundred individuals.  And the account proceeds to recite the litany of what “they” did.  They did this.  And they did that.  The eye-witness is careful to insist that he/she was gassed because he/she was just in the wrong place and wrong time with this band of roving riff-raff.  My point would be this.  I’m suspecting within the group of approximately one-hundred individuals, you would find a range of answers on a host of questions.  Each individual acted.  Each individual was motivated to act or not act according to his/her own personal view.  As to his/her own personal politic will.  Are members of this one-hundred there non-violent?  Would others there not consider the extreme measure of committing open acts of property damage in response to police attacks?  Mobs are interesting places.  They are cauldrons of individual human action and emotion.  Some good, some bad, some indifferent.  My concern is for a country that insists on legitimizing a military occupational force within its own borders, to protect our politicians from political dissent.  And for their use of semi-lethal and lethal weapons upon a crowd of people, with no direction of this force at any individualized actor based on reasonable suspicion or reasonable force.  We (diaries like BooMan’s) continue to legitimize the use of police force in this way.  When we uncritically cut loose those of the left who are actually in the streets, without forethought and support, for the greater good of making sure Obama is not blemished by this “action,” we legitimize our own future oppression.  

StevenD has written eloquently about the police state.  The use of force we are subjected to daily is appalling.

I am not so quick to judge the “anarchists” here.  There may be those who will be convicted of crimes of conscience based on the evidence of their individual actions.  But I’m willing to see that evidence first.  And I’d be willing to listen to their statement of reasons for taking these actions.  Because I sense there would be more in this statement that I would agree with than disagree.  America has gone far astray.  The corrective course, in conventional political terms, may not be painless.  Nor short.  Don’t rush to condemn those seemingly more willing to give personal sacrifice to their commitment because you fret so much about bad PR.  Fox NEWS will surely skewer your presumptively elect party for the sin of having political roots with anarchists, as well as on any host of other issues with which you have no control.  Your outspoken pastors.  Etc.  Stop throwing everyone under the bus as it drives along.

“Have you no sense of decency, sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” — Boston Attorney Joseph Welch, taking down Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

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