Étudiants, à St.Paul!
Above: Aug. 31 2008, St. Paul, MN. As close to the RNC Convention as die liebe Bettina and I could get today. Welcome friends, and here are our local crack stormtroopers! It seemed to get serious when the National Guardsmen, just in the back, could be seen donning their gas masks as well.
The full battle dress men in black advanced slowly and methodically, one step at a time while holding their batons across their bodies, and advancing with them showing clear intent and yet… painfully (thankfully?) slowly. The rhythm of choice, con baton.
Above: Never mind the National Guard, let me see if I can change a $20. I mean it, painfully slow. But in the American tradition, every situation can be made profitable, even if measured in potato chips or dogs, and sponsored by Pepsi.
Above: Bring on the Dancing Horses (Ja!). A squad of bicycle police followed closely and took the left flank.
Above: Boots on the ground emphasized the point. This was about the time when the youth, a bit further down the street (not shown to protect the innocent), gathered to confront these forces and played California, Über Alles! over a portable music projection system. Ah, the Dead Kennedy’s. How very quaint. I mean the music on a Radio Flyer, not so much the wooden sticks part.
Above: Welcome, Texas Delegation! (see left) Please allow us to clear the streets of these slightly agitated, and musically declarative, masked youth. An extremely efficient operation. This picture does not show the purple clouds of tear gas that precede this phalanx. Quite nice of them to make it purple, actually, makes it easy to put down the camera and move. A strong wind helped disperse the materials quickly, however.
We saw no uneven violence, save for the barricades being built to block crossings,
by some of the Randalierer. We did overhear, however, that some of the protesters were taken down a la baton.
Above: Sanitäter! From another location, these Autonomen (the autonomous) come with their own medics. These two had just helped to alleviate the pain of a tear gas target — the young man in the red shirt — with some milky/chalky substance,
liberally applied to the afflicted area.
The gentleman in the middle politely asked the Officer on the motorcycle to let them know when they could safely cross the street. The Officer kindly agreed.
Above: A crossing guard. This group, hidden by the police and documentation squad, had been maced. The young man in the red shirt above emerged from this crowd.
A closely watched spectacle, both sides, again, seemed to accommodate the others’ needs/intentions. (UPDATE: See a similar scene from The Uptake. Incredible.)
Hard to forget, and a largely objective matter of the public record, these people are protesting what we know to be the criminal policies and application of force that this party is complicit with. In some ways, I think these autonomous protesters represent every bit of the tortured, frustrated American soul. We can only hope the RNC convention is associated with change within themselves as well.
In another bizarre moment, we rode our bicycles along the Minnesota River south of the city and heard Billy Bragg‘s voice across the water. He was just coming on at an event on the other side of the river, dedicated to free National Health Care.
Above: From yesterday’s antithetical visit (con Hazel!) to the Minnesota State Fair,
also in St. Paul. Where everything you could imagine worth eating is claimed to be available on a stick, and it is true (and then there are Tiny Tim’s mini donuts).
This wee play on words was a welcome sight. More soon?
UPDATES: The German online version of Stern published the above (Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images). Click here for some more scenes via Crooks and Liars. A really disturbing Twitter feed, coldsnaplegal. Decide for yourself, minute by minute updates.
UPDATES Sept. 3, 2008: New from Crooks and Liars (priceless quote from author Logan Murphy: “…the Denver police prepared for protests, the St. Paul police prepared for the Apocalypse.” In the same post, he links to another compelling story from the Minnesota Independent. More from WIRED and The Uptake.