RNC: Anarchy in St. Paul

| 9/1/2008 5:30:01 PM

The anarchists trying to stop the RNC are organized. Many, though, still don’t know what to do. They’ve got maps, code words, and a system of text messages that tries to coordinate blockades and gives updates on arrest numbers. Many of the activists seem to know sign language, and have a coded system of communication set up. Some wear the black masks and makeup, but others are wearing preppy, non-descript clothing chosen to throw off the police and blend in. One young woman I talked to said that today was “the first time I’ve brushed my hair in years.”

The blockades, however, seem to happen at random, sometimes at inopportune times. I saw one group block an empty delegate bus, stopping a group of anti-McCain, Ron Paul delegates in the process. The most successful action that I witnessed was a young man in a black mask who slashed the tires on a Fox News truck and then escaped safely into a crowd.

Tear gas has been used and arrests have been made. A video of a protester roadblock can be seen below:

For more of Utne.com's ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here. 

Suzanne Lindgren
9/2/2008 3:00:12 PM

In many of these articles I'm finding it difficult to distinguish between anti-war demonstrators and anti-RNC anarchists. Was the RNC Welcoming Committee (and/or other groups) marching in the war protest? Did the anarchists have their own protest? I wasn't in MN for the protests but did have the chance to speak to a member of the RNC Welcoming Committee in Minneapolis earlier this summer. He communicated a willingness (almost eagerness) to use violence and property destruction as tactics to stop the Republicans from gathering. Why is the Welcoming Committee trying to stop (or at least interfere with) the convention? Members of the Committee and other dissidents have been proclaiming their rights to assembly and free speech in articles about the weekend police raids -- apparently they don't believe the Republicans should have the same rights. Tendencies toward violence and close-minded political beliefs are what give anarchy a bad reputation. I'm am torn between my respect for these people who actually get involved and disregard for their invitation to violence and demonstrations of intolerance for others' beliefs.

Bennett Gordon
9/2/2008 2:09:57 PM

The idea behind “successful” in the post was the fact that he accomplished what he set out to do and didn’t get caught. I don’t mean “successful” in any broader sense than that. Thanks for the comment.

9/2/2008 9:42:50 AM

To quote from the above article: "The most successful action that I witnessed was a young man in a black mask who slashed the tires on a Fox News truck and then escaped safely into a crowd." Are you guys crazy? In what worldview does slashing a truck's tires amount to "success." I find the articles on this site about the RNC somewhat disturbing: why is there could be some explanation for why the police have to forcefully respond to the "protesters". The reader has to read between the lines: oh, the police have to arrest these "protesters" because they are a bunch of goons doing things like slashing tires.

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