G20 Protests Show Preferential Treatment of Right Wing Protesters
The authorities who protect the establishment’s power have demonstrated something in the last couple weeks: they will cater to right wing protesters while trampling on the rights of left wing protesters. The difference in treatment between the 40k at Glenn Becks 912 rally in DC and the 4000 at the G20 was like day and night.
The recent events in Pittsburgh and elsewhere give us an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast two protest movements in America. The first is the G20 protests, which are closely related to the anti-war protests that began in 2002. The second are the Tea Parties, which are closely linked to the health care protesters.
Let us begin with the G20 protesters on Thursday and Friday. None of the protesters arrive armed. The vast majority were completely peaceful, except for a few anarchists, who broke about a dozen windows and rolled a garbage bin towards officers after they were suddenly given an order to disperse without explanation. They represent a huge umbrella of groups, including labor unions, human rights advocates, anti-war protesters, bank bailout opponents, anti-racism spokesman, environmental advocates, Free Tibet members, anti-corporation protesters, and curious students.
Contrast this with the recent rash of Tea Parties and health care disrupters. The vast majority of these protesters also arrived unarmed, although there have been a few incidents where people have shown up carrying loaded assault rifles, and in 2 cases in Phoenix ended up being members of Pastor Steven Anderson’s flock (the same hate-mongering cleric who issued a Fatwa against Obama and homosexuals). The majority of these protesters are FOX News viewers who voted for Bush, although there are other groups represented, like Ron Paul libertarians, anti-immigration demonstrators, birther conspirators, anti-health care reform protesters, etc.
Now let’s examine how the mentality of the groups protesting. As with the Iraq War protests, dissenting viewpoints were welcomed, although few arrived. One of my friends used to bring cookies for the counter-protesters at the Iraq War demonstrations. The reception counter protesters received at the Tea Parties is quite different as shown in this video where a man carrying a ‘Public Option Now!’ banner had to be escorted through the angry mob by a dozen officers.
Although the common perception is masked leftists dressed in black is supposed to be scary, while the preppy and clean-shaven look of the Tea Party protesters is supposed to be re-assuring, the exact opposite is true on the ground. If anyone doubts my word, by all means, feel free to test this hypothesis out. Carry a “The only fair tax is no tax!” sign to a leftist protest, then carry a “the only fair health care is single-payer” sign to a right wing protest, see what happens.
The G20 protesters were almost exclusively peaceful. As previously noted, there was one tear-gassing incident on Thursday. According to Associated Press writers Vicki Smith, Mark Scolforo, and Ramit Plushnick-Masti.
Protesters complained that the march had been peaceful and that police were trampling on their right to assemble.
“We were barely even protesting,” said T.J. Amick, 22, of Pittsburgh. “Then all of a sudden, they come up and tell us we’re gathered illegally and start using force, start banging their shields, start telling us we’re going to be arrested and tear gassed. … We haven’t broken any laws.”
The marchers did not have a permit and, after a few blocks, police declared it an unlawful assembly. They played an announcement over a loudspeaker ordering people to leave and then police in riot gear moved in to break it up. Authorities also used a crowd-control device that emits a deafening siren-like noise, making it uncomfortable for protesters to remain in the streets. Officers fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke at the protesters, set off a flash grenade and fired rubber bullets.
There were isolated acts of vandalism, including about a dozen broken windows and a few overturned garbage containers, but the extent of the damage seems to be quite limited. Eyewitness accounts backed up by video steve blame this on the sudden police demand to disperse. Yet, look at the pictures of the police response (used with permission, photographer’s website)
There were over 4000 officers at the G20 protests, which by most estimates outnumbered the protesters.
Do a few acts of minor vandalism demand such a strict response like this? It gets worse too. Before the protests even began, there was a coordinated plan by law enforcement agencies to deny the constitutional rights of protesters to assemble, a common pattern set up during the Iraq War protests. The ACLU had to sue the city of Pittsburgh and the Secret Service in order to finally obtain protest permits which were delayed without explanation until the last minute.
Another common practice used by law enforcement is using harassment and illegal searches of personal property to either disrupt planned protests or discourage people from showing up. These measures have been described
“The police have repeatedly tried to intimidate members of the collective, citing them with minor traffic violations, illegally searching their bus, towing their legally parked bus, detaining and charging members walking home with loitering, repeatedly demanding identification, and pressuring private property owners to rescind their permission for the collective to park its bus.”
Let us not forget the incident before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul a year ago (another left wing protest that saw an unwarranted police crackdown), where police raided several homes including the group Food Not Bombs under dubious pretenses before the protests could begin.
The police also photograph and documented protesters, which causes them to wear hankies over their faces to make identification more difficult. The side effect of this of course is that now the protesters look like bandits. This was a common tactic of the FBI during the protests in the 60s and early 70s as well, but is far from the only means of domestic espionage in place today.
Another well documented tactic is for law enforcement officials to infiltrate the protesters, sometimes months ahead of time. One has to wonder how many of the incidents of antagonism and open vandalism are actually caused by undercover infiltrators with an agenda to make the protesters look bad.
All one has to do is look at how the protesters were treated at the G20 to see police-state tactics in use. First off there is the girl who was getting repeatedly jabbed in the back after not being able to move away under orders due to blockage in front of her, eventually snapping and tossing her bicycle towards officers, who responded by giving her a baton and punch to the head. She is now facing aggravated assault charges against a police officer.
Then we have the incredible incident where members of the SWAT team in military fatigue snatch a protester, which was immediately denounced a hoax by Michelle Malkin’s HotAir website. Despite myself being extremely skeptical at first (how could the military abduct a US citizen in broad daylight), more evidence is surfacing that seems to prove that this incident is true. The G20 Joint Information Center gave the following stunning statement (which I have not been able to independently verify at this time):
“The individuals involved in the 9/24/09 arrest, which has appeared online, are law enforcement officers from a multi-agency tactical response team… It is not unusual for tactical team members to wear camouflage fatigues. The type of fatigues the officers wear designates their unit affiliation.
Prior to the arrest, the officers observed the subject vandalizing a local business. Due to the hostile nature of the crowd, officer safety, and for the safety of the person under arrest, the subject was immediately removed from the area.”
There is also the situation where a reporter was hit with a chemical agent. This video also shows the new sound cannon used by police (I’m surprised it doesn’t broadcast the Brown Note). Police chased down and arrested uninvolved students. “Rubber” bullets were also used.
There is a clear contrast when we look at how law enforcement officials treat right wing protests. In fact, when I was searching for photos of the police presence at Glenn Becks 912 DC rally, it took me over an hour to find ONE photo, it’s almost like there wasn’t a police presence at all. There is no systematic denial of permits for right wing protesters, forcing legal groups to sue to exercise their constitutional rights. There are no raids on houses prior to marches. There are zero cases of illegal detention prior to the protests. The number of police arriving is minimal, and they have not been arriving in full riot gear. The police have not used intimidation tactics, tear gas, sound cannons, rubber bullets, or even their batons.
I know many of my conservative critics will be quick to point out that there have been no cases of vandalism or civil disobedience that would warrant such tactics. Although cases of vandalism are rare (even more rare than they are at peace marches), they are not unheard of. As for civil disobedience, well, they might have a point there. I sort of doubt many of those attending Tea Parties would have the balls to stand up to authority, they tend to be statists who favor big government when it’s the kind of government they like (domestic espionage, military-industrial complex, helping big corporations, imprisoning 1 in 32 Americans, etc.). To be fair, there is a contingent of libertarians at the Tea Parties that don’t like these kinds of things either, but they are a very small, silent minority.
There are 2 central problems here. First off, there is undeniable preferential treatment of right wing protests than left wing protests. In my eyes, the reason is obvious. We on the left tend to be highly anti-authoritarian, preferring freedom. We tend to favor small, local cooperatives than large, multinational corporations. We favor ecologically sound solutions to development, not leaving a polluted environment for our children. Most of all, we favor a fair society that gives everyone a chance to succeed or fail based on their own merits rather than only those born into the system of privilege having a shot at it. These are things the establishment hates.
What is especially puzzling to this preferential treatment is the fact that the Tea Party protests have proven to be outright hostile to other people with different opinions, they are well armed (sometimes showing up that way), and are creating an atmosphere of hate that is a breeding ground for violence. In fact, the fear-mongering rhetoric seems be inciting violence already, such as the 40 death threats against Obama everyday or the 8+ acts of domestic terrorism in the last 8 months.
The second and more pressing problem is that when one group loses their freedom and constitutional rights, it doesn’t take long before every group loses those freedoms. Instead of attacking the violations of freedom from the authorities in Pittsburgh, the right wing has been quick to praise them. If the establishment suddenly turns on the conservatives (which is unlikely to happen), they will have nobody to blame but themselves when their organizations start to get spied on, when their members begin getting arrested for little or no reason, when the teargas starts getting fired in their direction.