I got back from Miami on Sunday. It was a different scene than Seattle, although the tear gas was just as real. The cops were much more aggressive and their tactics were clearly designed to create whatever pretext they felt they needed to bash, shoot, spray, threaten, and gas people at random.
I attended the AFL-CIO march and rally on Thursday, and was astonished to see the cops go on the offensive against a bunch of Steelworkers. I witnessed aggressive gassing, spraying, clubbing, and indiscriminate firing of rubber bullets into a peaceful crowd.
I saw large numbers of mostly college-age students injured by rubber bullets. The cops were routinely pointing rifles and shotguns right in the faces of people who were minding their own business.
One of the most bizarre things I saw was Police Chief Timoney on TV praising his officers for their “remarkable restraint,” and claiming that all police actions were purely defensive in nature, against the protestors’ “violent and terrorizing acts,” including “throwing tear gas and hurling missiles” at the police, and even throwing “buckets of feces and urine.”
Needless to say, I never saw anything like that but I did see repeated unprovoked attacks on numerous citizens including children, elderly, and disabled persons.
Now I read that this cop riot was funded entirely by Homeland Security and the money came from the $87 billion dollar Iraq war appropriation. If that’s true then I guess thats a good example of the kinds of “security” efforts we’re going to be seeing in the future at any mass mobilizations.
I did attend a strategy meeting sponsored by 50 Years Is Enough, to discuss plans for a mobilization around the IMF/World Bank meeting in Washington, DC, from April 22-25. It starts on Earth Day and closes on the date (4/25) chosen by Planned Parenthood for a mass mobilization in support of reproductive rights. It will be interesting to see how the Bushies respond to all that. Stock up now on gas masks!
DAVID ORR is an environmental organizer based in Knoxville, TN. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org