I'd like to do some quick synopsis stuff for this weekend. First off, on a personal level on Saturday, divorced from any of the activities of the weekend, I was suffering from a case of rampaging inferiority complex. I've got a few glimmers as to why, and mostly it was set off (not created, just aggrivated) by the people we were going to the protest with. It was just bad for a few hours, but some whispered discussion in the back of the car helped.
Okay, so now, for the weekend. Massive protestage in Manhattan. We got on the streets at about 1230, and discovered that the protesters who weren't supposed to be marching were meandering towards the protest site, filling the streets, and essentially, being a march. Nothing too interesting started to happen until the cops wanted to disperse the crowd.
This involved horses being marched through the crowd. The people were not pleased, and neither were the horses- they were scared to death. As people got arrested, the crowd got ugly. As the crowd got ugly, the cops got ugly. While no one was in good form, the police had more responsibilty to act appropriately, and as a whole, they were polite and respectful.
Except for people like 26251 (that's his badge number). He made a mistake- he got angry. Someone in the crowd was pissing him off, he galloped up and smacked him in the head. Marched his horse into the guy. Started trading insults. As he was doing this, across the street, more horses were being used on the other half of the crowd, and from what Barb (one of the people we went down there with) told us, they were being even more violent over there. At any rate, Officer 26251 was momentarially cowed when people started chanting his badge number. Hundreds of people.
Eventually they dispersed the crowd, and while I think they mishandled that process, I understand that it needed to be done. New York is a big town, the roads must roll, and our permit was for a limited time, and not for where we were. So they broke it up, okay.
Within a few hours, mini-protests of maybe a hundred or so people to a pop started accumulating. We were marching around Manhattan, near Times Square (TS itself was blocked off- no access), making noise, chanting, but moving- not blocking traffic, not messing with anyone, not being violent, just walking, chanting, singing and being a bunch of peaceniks.
And this is really, the dirtiest part of the treatment of the cops. They were good for awhile, walking alongside us, keeping us supervised, keeping us moving. That's fine, there's no reason for them not to. It's a crowd, and they can get dangerous fast. But then they started working on breaking it up. The biggest moment of fear right there was when we turned a corner, and when we were about halfway down the block, we found ourselves walking right into about 30 mounted officers- maybe less, but it certainly had that feeling. More than one could count. It was dark, their helmets were shining, the horses looked black- it was ominous. Well, a few of us shouted out "Horses! Turn around!" Of course, that was stopped when a wall of officers in riot gear blocked our retreat. So were were pinned. The horses marched into us, the men on them telling us to move, but there was nowhere to move to. At that point, I was sure they would just arrest the lot of us, but they didn't.
Eventually, the cops blocking our retreat let us through, and we regrouped and marched on.
The end of the protest really started when we were walking down a block beneath some scaffolding. It was the sort of scaffolding that is essentailly a tunnel, you couldn't step off the sidewalk into the street. We walked in there, and immediately, cops cut off both sides. Once they had that done, off either end they'd take groups of six or so, two cops would march them down to the next block, and then walk back to take another group of six. In other words, they broke us up fairly effectively. We managed to regroup a bit, but now there were cops on pretty much every corner, directing our march, and eventually, they dropped us at Penn Station. Half the protesters went down into it, the rest of us wondered if this was a hint to go the fuck home.
So we did.
There are two officers in particular I'd like to reccomend, though I can't remember their names. These two I interacted directly with. One was on foot, she was part of the line that forced us out of the intersection the first time they broke up the crowd. She was aware of what was going on, she didn't really like doing what she was doing, and she was okay with being polite about it. I offered her some cigarettes, which she politely refused, though admitting that she'd love one. Another officer was part of the mounted group. He was pretty restrained with his horse, not walking it into people when he could avoid it (Unlike some people 26251!), and once the crowd was contained, he backed the horse off and immediately started calming it down, which I really appreciated, because my largest fear was that a horse was going to panic, and someone was going to get seriously hurt. At any rate, he was ordering us to move, and I looked at him and said, "I've got a phone booth behind me, cops to my left, a thousand or so people to my right, and you in front of me. None of the people you're telling to move can go anywhere until those people back there move!" He nodded, "You're right," and stopped ordering us to move.
So many things can be resolved with honesty and respect- which is why I say that so many people in the crowd were off base, because they didn't treat the cops with respect. Why is it so many counter-culturalist types hate cops as a whole? Most cops I've dealt with are just trying to do what they can, and for every shitty thing they do, they know that they're also helping keep people safe. But if you give them shit, insult them, call them names, you can't expect anything respectful from them. Yes, there are many asshole cops. Yes, they are the long arm of the establishment. But just because you're on opposite sides doesn't mean you have to hate the individual. I don't want there to be any cops- and neither do most cops. They're people, doing the best they can.
Sorry, people who are rude or hateful to law enforcement piss me off- of course, people who are rude and hateful to anyone piss me off, so nyah.