August 27, 2004
Who's scarier, Cops or Anarchists?
In these days leading up to the RNC, the press is vigorously covering the few examples of creative nonviolent protest that have led to arrests, and simultaneously reporting the NYPD's references to violent anarchists that they expect to attack the city. Police chief Raymond Kelly said, "Protest organizers have an obligation to condemn the vandalism and disruption advocated by the minority. The organizers could perform a public service by telling the extremists to stay away. Instead, they obfuscate on this point."
He suggests that it is the responsibility of protest organizers to exclude potentially violent people from their events. Organizations like CounterConvention.org and United for Peace and Justice have said all along that their events will be nonviolent, and that they don't know of any organized groups that are planning a violent protest.
Now let's look at the measures taken by the NYPD against nonviolent organizers of the past few days. The activists who hung the Truth/Bush arrows sign from the Plaza Hotel were charged with first-degree assault, because one of the cops who climbed up to detain them fell through a cracked skylight and cut his leg. The spokesman for the group said one of the activists had warned the sergeant not to go on the skylight because it was cracked, but claimed the cop ignored the warning. "The last thing we wanted to have happen is anyone to get hurt," he said.
The next few days will tell, but so far, it's hard to tell why we should be afraid of protesters.