Monday, March 12, 2007

West Coast anti-war protesters hit with gas and bullets

Okay, it's tear gas and rubber bullets...

I just stumbled across this video from a protest out in Seattle... no, sorry, Tacoma... anyway, last week... protesters... nonviolence... and then... well, just check it out for yourself...



Okay, right. That's just one point of view and we don't see everything... How here?



I know. More of the same. Hippies. Liberals. Anarchists. Radicals. Whatever... still Americans. And, what I see is an over-the-top use of force to the non-violent demonstration of a small crowd of people.

From the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center:
According to Mark Jensenof Pierce United for Peace and Justice, “Around midnight, the crowd was still growing. As police donned gas masks and distributed ammunition for crowd control, an additional unit of about 70 riot police made up of personnel from various nearby police departments arrived by bus. Massing near a fence on 11th Ave around 1:00 am, a few young people tested its strength, causing it to swing wildly. Police fired what one person believed to be pepper spray, briefly scattering the crowd while police moved quickly to reinforce the fence.”

Demonstrators then began walking away from the fence and south on Thorne Ave. Mike Pinson of Tacoma reports that “We went on a long march back around to another access point. There were at least 250 people chanting the entire time while a police car in reverse and one moving forward paced the head of the pack as we advanced.”

When demonstrators reached the other access point following a one mile walk, they were met with a large police presence. The police were in full riot gear, including gas masks.

Some of the demonstrators crossed a yellow tape-line police set up, sat down and began chanting and singing songs. According to Phan Nguyen, a member of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, “At this point riot police responded by launching multiple volleys of tear gas and rapid firing rubber bullets into the crowd.”
Why are the protesters taking on the port? Seems they are
protesting the deployment of a Ft. Lewis-based Stryker brigade deploying to Iraq as part of the US escalation of the conflict.
So, I'm thinking to myself, "Self, this doesn't seem like the police officers were following the use of force continuum. At least not one that I remember." A quick search of the web, and I find this one from Portland State University's Public Safety Office:



Right. Maybe because they're not following it, or so it appears.

Maybe you don't like that diagram. Try here, this one from the Department of Justice:



For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, it's actually pretty simple. Law enforcement officers, at least here in the United States, are to use the minimal amount of force to ensure compliance.

Now, some would suggest that gas and rubber bullets were fairly minimal and did ensure compliance: the protesters left. One problem with gas and bullets is that while it may be less-than-deadly-force, it's nearly at the top end; there are plenty of other tactics, including waiting the protesters out.

This is looking an awful lot like 35 years ago. My prediction: the longer we remain in Iraq, the more things are going to look like 35 to 40 years ago. For those old enough, it will seem like either a time warp or a time machine.

Hat tip to Slog and David Goldstein.

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