Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Protests and Politics

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

cross-posted from West Michigan Rising

This diary is prompted by the following post to the Kalamazoo Democrats discussion list. I feel free to repost it, given that it was posted publicly, though I have removed the original poster's name.

Why are not Democrats up in arms about the planned treatment of protesters in Denver? Why are we not contacting our 'leaders' about standing up against further police state activities? Is it because when we do get through to an actual person, we're treated like a 'conspiracy theorist extremist'?...or is it just because we don't really care?

I replied as follows to the kzoodem list:

At the risk of stirring things up, I'm going to weigh in here.

Through being part of Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War, I've come to know many folks on the left who are not traditional Democrats, or Democrats at all. Those who are part of KNOW are committed to nonviolence; however there are others who oppose the war, as I do, but also reject the entire structure of our civil society, which I accept. Many of these are anarchists, who reject the idea of a hierarchical arrangement of society or the idea of traditional government at all. To my mind, they want what never has been, and never can be, human nature being what it is. I can elaborate, if anyone wants to hear, on the horrors of anarchy in the real world.

Here's an example of what they are planning for Denver and Minneapolis:

unconventional action

They are explicit about 'accepting a variety of tactics', which means accepting those who are not committed to nonviolence. One allied group is 'Recreate 68'. Well, the year 1968 evokes (for those of us old enough to remember) many things, some good and mostly bad, but let's remember the end result of what happened in the streets of Chicago was President Richard Nixon.

Whatever our judgment on their hopes for society, they certainly have the right to peaceful protest. But if you read their rhetoric, they want to shut down both conventions. Well, I'm going to the convention, and I don't want to be shut down. We have a right to carry out our business, meet with other Democrats, advocate for our views without being unduly impeded. Can we all agree on that?

So then it becomes a balancing act for police and local government, to protect the rights of citizens to carry out their business, and protect the right of other citizens to protest. Concerns are rampant that the Denver police, FBI, Secret Service et al. are planning a widespread clampdown involving tasers, holding pens, pepper bombs, 'Gitmo on the Platte', etc. I understand and share these concerns, based on the sweeps in NYC during the RNC that swept up ordinary New Yorkers and tourists along with protesters. The ACLU, which I am a member of, is working to get assurances from police and city government that they will not use unconstitutional means. I support this.

However, I also support the right, and responsibility, of civil authority to protect ME, and others, as we carry out our business.