Republican National Convention Protests Sept 01 2008

The protests started out with an ‘official’ rally up on the capitol grounds. In other words, one that had the proper permits.

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There looked to be 5000 or so people there, many of them curiosity seekers like myself. Some of them had banners, flags and other assorted propaganda.

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The speakers at the rally were pathetic, whiney, rambling and disorganized. It was a waste trying to listen to them.

Are there any orators in the opposition? If so, they didn’t show up for the RNC.


About and hour or so before the ‘official’ protest march was to leave the capitol grounds and head to the RNC, several groups of unofficial protestors took off heading south. Most of the people in the the unofficial march that preceded the officially permitted march were pretty cool. They played loud music from boombox in a coaster wagon, danced and had a good time.

When the unofficial march started heading south toward the RNC, the ‘official’ march got sort of excited. “NO – STOP! This isn’t the official march!!”

I’m not sure if they were worried that nobody would be left for their march? Of if they had some other reason to try to stop the breakaway march. In any case, the breakaway, unofficial march looked much more interesting, so I followed it.

At one point, the unofficial protesters crossed a bust street and surrounded a couple of passenger cars. A group of bicycle cops attempted to disrupt the march. They charged headlong into the group, two abreast, and formed some kind of defensive circle.

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The protesters looked at them and started dancing. After a minute or two, the bicycle cops gave up and let the marchers continue their aimless wandering.

Things got a bit more interesting when a group of a couple hundred protesters called ‘Funk the War’ took off ahead of the organized march. They wandered around downtown, somewhat aimlessly, and occasionally bumped into the police. Most of that group were mostly interested in music and dancing. A few were not. For the first few hours, their only crime was turning left when the police thought they turn right.

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Here the cops are lined up to block a street, and are putting on gas masks. The protestors did likewise. No tear gas was used in this confrontation.

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Some of the group that hung out with ‘Funk the War’ were pretending to be anarchists.  They seemed to think that if they wore black hoods, black pants, high school chemistry goggles and  gas masks, that they were real anarchists, instead of the amateurs that got arrested a couple days ago.

When the cops put on their gas masks, the black hoods chickened out.


There were plenty of cops in full riot gear. I looked closely to see if I could figure out what they were thinking. Some were very tense, others quite relaxed. I chatted with a few.

The cops without the gear were pretty laid back. One old cop, in normal cop gear, leaned up against his car while the protesters surrounded him and his car. He yawned.

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Others were quite tense – almost and so they expected violence. Maybe standing around for hours on a hot day in riot gear makes you tense?  Not sure.

In any case, even the breakaway protestors were pretty much a happy-go-lucky bunch, at least until later in the afternoon.

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The cops occasionally steered the marchers in a different direction, usually by blocking two sides of an intersection and leaving open the rest of the intersection.

For a while it looked like it might get interesting. The cops on the roof of the SUV in the background were getting ready to launch tear gas.

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The picture takers generally wedged themselves between the protestors and the cops. Drama, I suppose.

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There was no gas used at this confrontation.

Occasionally the riot cops marched around in a messy, disorganized formation. I suppose they don’t get to practice much.

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As the afternoon worn on, the heat started to take its toll. They’ll never admit it, but the cops were sweating in that hot, heavy gear.


The ‘anarchists’, here shown incognito, looked like they wanted to cause trouble, but couldn’t quite figure out how. Later in the day they figured out how.

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At times they did really interesting things. The randomly changed into & out of their black, in broad daylight, in a city that apparently was fully covered by security cameras. Occasionally they attempted to organized some kind of action, or at least they appeared to be organizing something. I’m not sure what they were plotting here – when I tried to get close enough to ask, they got really ornery. But whatever they were plotting, it didn’t work.

At one point in time they thought that one of the people taking pictures was a cop and started to attack him. A couple other protestors wedged themselves in the middle of the fracas until the guy could get away.

Later in the afternoon, I wanted to cut through one of the cops barricades. I motioned like I wanted to go through, the cop (in riot gear) motioned ‘nope…’. I pointed to another group of three young women who snuck through the phalanx of cops. He said – ‘They are with us’. I.E undercover cops.

Ok – makes sense.

Eventually the true genius of the black hooded morons came out. They showed their determination to make the world a better place by knocking over a a plastic newspaper stand. It took a steady nerve, guts and determination. They are right up there with the best protesters of the ’60’s.

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Or they are idiots.


Another group of ‘anarchists’. This group wasn’t any smarter than the first group. The ran around in black hoods, with black backpacks, masks and scarves, apparently trying to blend in.

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Maybe they didn’t know it’s light out in St Paul at noon?

A random intervals, these ‘anarchists’ would also change back into normal clothes, hiding the black gear. Except they were doing the changing in broad daylight, in a city that has security cameras everywhere.

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The group pictured here got really cranky when I took their pictures. I suppose the concept of protesting for a free and open society and getting your picture taken in public are mutually contradictory?

Especially when they insisted on photographing the cops. It seems as though photographing the cops is Ok if you are an anarchist.

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I’m sure a handful of kids running around in black sweatshirts for an afternoon made a difference in society. No doubt the Bush/Cheney/Exxon/Halliburton cartel suffered a great setback on  its quest for world domination and the enslavement of western civilization.

And of course the protestors, bound and determined to save the world as the are, don’t seem to be too concerned about leaving litter all over.

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Cut down a forest, print pamphlets, leave them lay on the street where they eventually decompose. Is that recycling?

I suppose, in a way.

Continued…

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