- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You know how it feels, then?

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on December 02, 1999 at 18:38:36:

In Reply to: Been there, done that. posted by MDG on December 01, 1999 at 18:24:56:

: While that's almost the same here in the U.S., occasionally police heads do roll, large damages are awarded the brutalized, and policies change. Of course, there's still a long, long way to go.

However, as I pointed out, here in the UK, the police actually control whether cases get referred to the Police Complaints Commission. To actually get the police to be seen to be wrong requires truly incontravertible evidence; and the police hire some very good lawyers to defend themselves; out of 43 such cases, the police won 42.

The deck is stacked waay in favour of the police, in other words.

: : Because you are committing a crime merely by raising your arm to ward off the blow of a riot baton; 'resisting arrest', 'obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty' and 'violent disorder'. Given that people are going to be arrested for anything other than letting your head be smashed open, most people figure that their chances of survival are better if they don't just stand there and let themselves be hit.

: Nobody said to let yourself get hit -- unless you want to take the nonviolent approach of Gandhi & King: let them hit you. This is not cowardice; it is in fact bravery of the highest order.

Uh-huh, but remember what happened on Tuesday night; the police surrounded 200 protestors and then told them to disperse - how on earth were they supposed to disperse when they were effectively surrounded? - and when they hadn't dispersed after 20 seconds, the police started hitting them. The protestors couldn't escape; either they stood and let themselves get hit and get arrested for it; or they did their best to stay alive, defended themselves - and got arrested for it.

When they torched a van out of anger, the press were there and took photos of it; it's *these* photos that made it into the paper. Try a slightly more balanced report of the day.

I'm not saying the protestors were angels; or even sensible to defend themselves; what I'm saying was that they had no way of escaping and figured they might as well resist arrest and minimize their chances of serious injury. Bad PR; but understandable in the circumstances.

: No, I never said protesters attack first just by cheering and teasing. I agree with you on how the mechanics of riots work. I'm simply saying, do not charge the police FIRST.

They didn't. The police charged first. Unfortunately, that's not what got reported in the mass media.

: : Fighting the police in the courts?

: Yes. I do not want to live in anarchy.

The fact that people are on the streets is a sign that the courts have failed; that people don't feel their Government can be trusted. Letter-writing gets bugger all done; and the courts are rigged in favour of the police.

: : : Did the police force the protesters to lie in the streets?

: : No. The government's policies did that; and the government's orders also told the police to use force against the protestors.

: No, lying in the streets was the protesters' choice. I've chained myself in place and been arrested, but I could just as easily have protested legally from the sidelines.

The aim was to disrupt the WTO meeting. Standing on pavements and using cutting words wouldn't cause the disruption; it's only by providing a physical roadblock that you could be sure of stopping the delegates.

: You do what you feel you must, hence the name "Civil Disobedience." I was lucky in that I've only been shoved, and never gassed.

I generally don't leave myself in the direct line of fire; I know where trouble is brewing and have no especial wish to get nabbed.

It is "civil disobedience", though, not "mild distress" or "lack of due courtesy". If you aren't protesting hard enough to force them to take heed, you're not really protesting at all; you're just standing on the sidelines.

: : Which would be fine and dandy, but the police pretty much corner the media market; certainly the mainstream media. If you notice, most comments on yesterday's events were made by members of the police forces.

: So what else is new? In a court of law, however, justice may be rendered.

It hasn't been in 42 of the last 43 occasions. 2% chances might come out, but it's a bit risky to rely on them.

: Yeah, the police can be assholes. How do we go about changing this? If you inflict violence upon the police, you'll only make them despise you more. Remember, men are often drawn to become cops for unsavory reasons, so you have to deal with them intelligently.

You do it by providing non-biased media coverage; the Web is an ideal medium for this; and you do it by protesting in numbers large enough to make the cops think twice.

As for stopping the police being assholes; you can't; they are just doing what they're told to do by their political masters.

The police aren't there to uphold the law; they are there to uphold the Government. When the government says "jump", they jump.

: : How do you define 'nonviolence'? Damage to property is not violence against people; yet it got portrayed as violence on June the 18th.

: When I see a man throw a brick through a window, I consider that violence.

Really? Most people only define violence as such when it's directed against a person.

If you count damage to "fixtures and fittings" as violence, then we live in an ultra-violent world; each average car emits 25 times its own weight of highly toxic gases each year; every car driver is thereby committing "violence" without even thinking about it.

: : If defending yourself against violence is violent and illegal, then only the dead are free and legal.

: Defend yourself and take the consequences, or let them hit you and suffer the consequences. Either way you'll get hurt, but which way makes the most profound impact?

I know; but most people would rather live when it comes down to it; especially as the police and government have the media sewn up enough to be able to control what the world hears about anyway. If PC Plod testifies that hippy nutcase Mungo headbutted Plod's riot baton hard enough to fracture his skull, the courts, the media and the people trust the word of Plod over that of Mungo; regardless of what actually happened.

No matter how noble and non-violent Mungo was in allowing Plod to hit him, the people will be told that Mungo attacked Plod, who heroically fought him off. After all, the police just don't attack innocent people, do they?

: Look, I'm not supporting police violence in any way, and when I was a younger protester, I did illegal things and was punished (mostly :)) Still, you won't beat a stronger adversary with violence, so you must find another way.

I don't know. I'm a pacifist, and I have never had a fight in my entire adult life, but I don't know if the present order can be overthrown now without violence. Give it 20 or 30 years and the non-renewable resources should be thin enough on the ground to make material-intensive things like nation states unsupportable; but then, of course, it will possibly be too late to save the worthwhile bits of our present society.


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