The Reichstag Campfire

Yesterday, along with their “prepared statement” – which their spokesbeing read word for word from the exact same handout that’d been given to all the “press” and any other onlookers that asked – the Anarkids handed out this statement about last week’s riot in Minneapolis, produced here word-for-word from the “release”.

While fisking it is probably not going to be as interesting as finding out who the writer’s English Teachers were over the years, it’s probably worth a look:

On Friday, August 31, nineteen people were arrested after police brutally attacked cyclists with Tasers, pepper spray, and excessive physical force.  The cyclists were part of the monthly Critical Mass bike ride.

This month’s Critical Mass was a kick-off for the pReNC, a weekend of organizing against the Republican National Convention to be held in St. Paul in 2008.

Interesting.  On some of the local discussion forums, lefties are claiming that there is no, was no, never has been any connection between the two. 

  The RNC Welcoming Committe (RNC-WC), a group hosting the pReNC, gave a public speech before the ride exhorting riders to avoid confrontation throughout the weekend. 

Well, bully for them! 

But of course, in the months before the ride, they were busy talking about all the mayhem they were going to carry out.  Wonder if that “speech” managed to counteract all of that braggadocio? 

While the police as a whole use excessive and brutal force in our communities on a daily basis, we feel that yesterday’s police response was highly inconsistent with their usual behavior.

Um – hello?  So which is it?  If they’re a bunch of jackbooted fascists “on a daily basis”, what’s “inconsistent”? 

The bikers did not provoke this incident, as they committed no violent or destructive acts. 

It’s perhaps not surprising that this contradicts the Strib’s account of the incident. 

 Unmarked cars filmed and targeted specific people.  A State Patrol helicopter accompanied the entire event. 

And is it any wonder?  Given all the threats that these jackbooted little wannabee fascists have been making, if I were a cop I’d make sure that there were plenty of cameras aimed at the scene, too. 

 Three police cars followed throughout the ride, attempting to intimidate the riders by sounding their sirens regularly and driving into the crowd, but issued no official dispersal orders.

Wow. Cops driving into a crowd of bicyclists? 

I’m a bicyclist.  I know if a cop ran into my bike, I’d have some damage to show for it.  Right away!

Two cruisers – #993 and #998 – drove into the back of the Mass at the corner of La Salle and Grand.  Witnesses report that at least one bicyclist was hit by a squad car.  At this point, the police began to arrest and pepper spray those who had gathered at the site of the accident.  They pointed Tasers at a nonviolent crowd, as if to create a sense of panic.

Again – and naturally, and not unexpectedly (“HONEST, officer, someone put that crack pipe IN my purse!  Really”), this contradicts everything I’ve seen in the media on the subject, which reported the cops tried to arrest someone who was playing “chicken” in traffic, and were in turn attacked by a crowd of anarkids. 

Now – take careful note of this next part (emphasis added):

  Nearly twenty squad cars arrived on the scene.  Over forty police created a line formation in which they advanced on bikers, arresting, and brutalizing those who fell behind.

Huh-whah?

Anarkids on bikes couldn’t escape a bunch of cops, loaded down with gear, advancing deliberately in a line (per normal riot training)?

Am I the only one who suspects that they must not have been trying to “get away” all that hard?

One cyclist was pepper sprayed when she attempted to obey dispersal orders.

“I swear to God, officer – I have no idea where that TV came from!  Stolen, you say?  Someone must have stuffed it into my backseat!” 

  She was then handcuffed and held to the ground as a third officer Tasered her in the neck.  Witnesses were also pepper sprayed and one bystander was among those arrested. 

I’ll be interested in seeing the video. 

 Most of the nineteen arrestees were held on “Probable Cause” for Riot charges and their bail was set at $3,000 each.

Let me take a step back here.

I know that it is entirely possible that the police might have overreacted.  Nothing about being a conservative involves blindly accepting government’s view of things – indeed, since every actual systemic government infringement of free speech in our society today attacks conservatives rather than liberals, we are right to be vigilant. 

But what do you suppose the odds are that the Minneapolis Police Department – one of the most intensely-politicized police departments in the business, which works for among the farthest-left-leaning city governments in the nation – being fully aware of both the Anarkids’ proclamations and intentions and the sympathies so many of their civilian bosses have for the “protesters“, would allow their officers to go all unhinged?  Indeed, I’m going to make a very fearless prediction here; the officers covering and responding to the “protest” knew that they were going to be on dozens of videocameras, both official eyes in the sky and a thousand points of cell-cam.  I’d be amazed, under those political and technological circumstances, if there were more than the thinnest film of police misconduct.  Just a hunch – but like most of my predictions, I’m pretty comfortable with it.

We believe that the police aggression experienced Friday night was a pre-meditated attempt to intimidate the anti-RNC organizers.  Although members of the RNC-WC were the intended recipients of police violence, the officers present exercised no discretion in their brutality.  All Critical Mass riders were subject to the police’s use of unrestrained force.  This was, with no question, a police practice run for next year’s RNC.

Well, they were half right.

I’ll bet anything that this was an intentional provocation, intended to inflame a sense of righteous victimhood on the part of the “protesters” – to create a sense of “we have nothing to lose, so anything goes.  Our ends now justify our means!”. 

Indeed, their next passage indicates almost exactly that (emphases added): 

  When the RNC-WC says that the State brings violence to the streets and leaves poeple, pacifist or otherwise, with no peaceful option for resistance, these acts of brutal force are what we speak of.  We do not expect the police to be held accoutnable by a system that necessitates their violence; however, we remain committed to confronting this repression wherever it exists and with whatever means available.

We will not be intimidated.

No, I don’t suspect “being intimidated” has ever been on the agenda. 

UPDATE: A commenter noted that, while I DO try to avoid using “nazi” references, I did let one slip through. 

I’ll cop to it.  The thought of these jagoffs polluting my city, my adopted hometown, with their puerile/violent little fantasies, is noxious to me.  So I slipped.

Good catch.

14 thoughts on “The Reichstag Campfire

  1. Pingback: Blanked Out » Blog Archive » RNC Welcoming Committee willing to call off 2008 protest for $5.9 million

  2. Mitch:

    Without adding my own editorial comments to the story, I’ve been tracking the media meme on the RWC – since MPR featured your opinions I decided to check out if you put out any more context on the old blog.

    You disappoint me sir – while your comment on MPR was a poised counter-point to the RWC this trips me up a little principally due to labeling the RWC as “Nazis”, positing that the RWC thinks the MPD are “Nazis” and then labeling the post “The Reichstag Fire”.

    Isn’t this rather Pecksniffian of you, given your posts on Ellison’s Reichstag remarks hereand here?

  3. What socio-economic class do the police officers fall into? And the bicyclers?
    If the bourgeois is being repressed by the working class, what is left for these anarchists to do?

  4. The bikers are wealth off white folks who have egos the size of Phyliss Kahn’s ill-gotten house. Most likely Mpls police officers are not paid nearly enough for what they do.

    Hey, did Angry Clown mock me last week when I said that the lefty protesters have already decided to scream “police brutality” before any events have even started?

  5. Oh, and America under President Bush must be a pretty cushy place to live if rich white kids biggest concern is that they can’t block traffic with their little bikes.

  6. But what do you suppose the odds are that the Minneapolis Police Department – one of the most intensely-politicized police departments in the business, which works for among the farthest-left-leaning city governments in the nation – being fully aware of both the Anarkids’ proclamations and intentions and the sympathies so many of their civilian bosses have for the “protesters“, would allow their officers to go all unhinged?

    100%, roughly. (The odds of this actually having happened as described by the “protesters” are much, much lower.) The civilian bosses have very, very little influence over what goes on in the MPD at the discipline (in all senses) level; the influence by police department management is somewhat greater, but not great. Other than promotion issues — which are largely correctly seen as political, in both good senses — the department is basically run by the department. (Quick reality check: for reasons good and/or ill, the office of the Chief of Police was unable to get rid of Mike Sauro, who has cost the city somewhere in excess of a million dollars in lawyers’ fees, damages, and settlements.)

    Just to take one example, consider that a Sergeant or Lieutenant will be utterly dependent on his or her patrolman-level union rep as to what kind of overtime security guard work, if any, that he or she is counting on, and imagine how eager said Sergeant or Lieutenant will be to discipline or otherwise displease said union rep.

  7. Joel,

    True.

    Now, in the case of this specific incident; given that cameras – including their own, including the eye in the sky – are ubiquitous, and the department had to know that any anarkid gathering for the next year is going to be fraught with possibilities for lunacy, do you think that the department’s enlightened self-interest could influence the department, political weirdness and all, to behave itself?

    I’m just thinking; even union-run police departments have a sense of “enlightened self-interest” – don’t they?

    It’s not a rhetorical question!

  8. Mitch, I think the perception in the worst — and numerically small, but dominant — culture of the MPD is that they’re collectively utterly untouchable, and that what the peons think of as misbehavior has so long gone without consequence that there’s no need to worry about it. It’s how you get things like a cop booking a guy in on a non-existent crime (civilian possession of hollowpoints); the one that got drunk, decided to recreationally tune up a guy in a bar, took it outside and got beaten up and his gun taken, and got a couple of days off with pay; etc.

    Those are hardly the only examples; they’re the ones that come to mind without having to violate some innocent’s privacy.

    Or, to put it cynically, when one’s motto is “l’etat, c’est moi,” one doesn’t pay much attention to the subtleties of the latest polling.

  9. That’s two Pecksniff refs directed at you in the past several weeks, Mitch. May want to act a little more Pip-like or Copperfieldesque for awhile.

    True North is shaping up as quite the Fagin school for Minnesota’s extreme right wing, by the way.

  10. Mitch, how can you claim (as you did on Blanked-Out) that you did not call the members of this group Nazis? Did you not write, “Given all the threats that these jackbooted little wannabee Nazis have been making…” Or perhaps you subscribe to the old, “Well, that depends on what the definition of is is,” form of double-speak. Did you not call them Nazis because you called them “wannabee” Nazis?

    And do you really think police wouldn’t engage in objectionable behavior because of cameras? There are documented cases to the contrary. Here, for example, news cameras and their own cameras capture the police shooting innocent protesters and later laughing about it. Did the individuals in during the Critical Mass act “innocently?” I certainly have no idea. I also know for a fact that the many MPD have the weight of the world on their shoulders and should be commended on their service. But I am reserving judgment until I see evidence pointing one way or the other.

  11. Mitch, how can you claim (as you did on Blanked-Out) that you did not call the members of this group Nazis? Did you not write, “Given all the threats that these jackbooted little wannabee Nazis have been making…”

    Doh. It’s a fair cop. Chalk it up to emotion. Will revise.

    And do you really think police wouldn’t engage in objectionable behavior because of cameras?

    No and yes.

    Post on the subject coming up either later today or tomorrow.

    But I am reserving judgment until I see evidence pointing one way or the other.

    And we close with complete agreement.

  12. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » The Reichstag Campfire, Part II: Psychology of Herds

  13. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Critical Crass

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