Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scenes from the DNC protest park

It was 90 degrees out. The police were all in packs. "Where are the guys with the horses?" I asked. "They're all down at the convention center. They'll be up later. Watch out for the horse from Cheyenne. He's mean."
This guy had awesome hair.
"We bleached the spots, then died them black."
Him: "This stuff weighs about 60 pounds. You wanna carry it for me? The gun shoots sponge rounds. They're like Nerf bullets."

Her: "I have bruises on my hips."
Fashions ranged from hippie to punk to news teams' suits.
I practiced my Chinese on the Taiwanese reporter and pointed him toward the Falun Gong band.
They weren't very good, but they tried hard.
In the amphitheater hung a banner from the Recreate '68 group, which hoped to stir things up.
Bands and speakers throughout the day kept everyone entertained.
Hip-hop inspired cartwheels.
Most people tried to stay in the shade, hanging out and sharing smokes.
The cops were pretty bored. "That's good. It means people are behaving."
But there were copwatchers on hand to record any malfeasance.
Souvenir-sellers were doing brisk business.
Many people brought their own signs.
A choral group performed "Goodnight Bush" (and I discovered a former co-worker was singing with them):
But despite the festive atmosphere, many were prepared for contingencies.
In one corner of the park, protesters were gathering for some action.
But I missed the beginning of all the excitement. Supposedly a group of protesters moved into the street, blocking traffic, and the police used that as an excuse to surround them and make arrests. I can't say the excessive show of force was necessary. There were three times as many cops as protesters.
There were cops on bikes, cops on horses and cops in SWAT vans.
And lots and lots of cops on foot, in full riot mode. (Click on this picture above to see it larger.)
Outside the cordon, people tried to see what was going on.
And photographers jostled to get pictures.
When the order came to "Mask up!" I had to use my flash, because it was getting pretty dark. I heard later that a couple cops did use their pepper spray, but I think the masks were mainly an intimidation tactic. A lot of the onlookers decided to leave after that. I hung around a little longer (and got that shot I posted earlier) but then my memory card was full, so I called it a night.


  1. I'm glad the police are bored. I was looking at Alice's photos yesterday (ALL of them) and I was left with this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I was very small we lived in North Kalamazoo in 1968 during the worst of the riots in that area and I can remember the police in full riot gear marching down our street and the gun on top of the television and the little kids riding by on bikes telling us if we had to stay inside for the night. Whew! Talk about a flashback! So - I'm VERY happy the police are bored.

  2. Wow! I wonder how many police will be standing around for protesters at the *republican* convention. And I agree, much better to have bored police officers than the alternative.

  3. I am volunteering at the convention, and frankly, I'd much rather see a dramatic show of force (maybe even including a squirt of pepper spray) as a deterrent to real violence than a sense of police unpreparedness, which could result in people actually get hurt or even killed.

    When such groups as Recreate '68 and some anarchist groups threaten mayhem, keeping the lid on everything is not inappropriate -- even if the police outnumber the protesters.

    The protesters have a right to free speech and free expression, and I have a right to be offended by in-your-face intolerant anti-abortion, homophobic, ultra-evangelical and/or white supremacist demonstraters screaming their beliefs at every passerby, and I have a right to be annoyed when demonstraters of any stripe block traffic and make it difficult to worm through a crowd -- and I feel that way even when I agree with some of their causes.

    I enjoy the energy and the buzz and the good spirit that has thus far prevailed, and I resent any party poopers who want to spoil it.

    I've put some blog posts from the convention (mostly pictures taken in the Pepsi Center) up on'd welcome

  4. Great photos! You got the *good* convention--we have the RNC next week.

  5. I just noticed how many sets of handcuffs they were each carrying... yikes!

  6. Jeez, where's Stalin? Or Darth Vader? Somebody has to be in charge of those guys. Is this the America we want to know and love? It embarasses me to think what we must look like to the rest of the world. Yikes.

  7. The sheer numbers of police around town was staggering. I didn't really mind it, though I do think they were overzealous with some of the protesters. I was more worried about some kind of terrorist attack than I was about protesters getting out of hand.

    For the most part the cops I saw were relaxed and congenial, and even during this little bit of excitement, they were mostly just keeping the crowds of lookie-loos back.

    Had it been all that tense, I wouldn't have been kneeling on the ground right in front of them taking pictures.


    You guys should go give this guy a piece of your mind