after the march turned south on 10th it wound up on the west lawn of Capitol Park where it had begun, and the marchers began sitting in the shade under the trees. it was pretty hot. |
what happened next is too important to leave to the corporate media, because not only are they corrputed by ridiculous biases, they are incompetent. the sac bee's report ["Protest loud, mostly peaceful - Officers, out in full force, make just nine arrests" By Dorothy Korber(firstname.lastname@example.org) -- 2:15 a.m. PDT Tuesday, June 24, 2003] got monday afternoon's central confrontation between the demonstrators and the cops flat wrong. here is the jist of the bee's report on the post march conflict:
". . . the anarchists clustered together again, locking arms on the southwest lawn of the Capitol. As officers surrounded them, other protesters encircled the officers and started closing in. . . .
"Thirty minutes later, officers detained a group of a dozen anarchists sitting on the lawn. The officers, about 16 strong, managed to arrest three, but almost instantly found themselves surrounded by other demonstrators, chanting and screaming: "Let them go! Let them go!"
"More officers surrounded the entire group by forming a semicircle around the crowd. But another crowd formed behind that second line of officers. Minor scuffles broke out, and most of the detainees managed to slip free.
"Eventually, the entire group of anarchists, now down to about 25, walked past officers and out of the park."
does the bee's account even make any sense at all? how did the dozen anarchists go from being surrounded and detained (and 3 arrested!) to the entire group "slipping free" and strolling past the officers and out of the park? did that really just happen by accident? or by magic?
i saw it differently. from my point of view, we freed the anarchists from the cops and ran the cops out of the park.
once the marchers had settled back on the lawn after the march, the crowd seethed with resentment at the overwhelming police state show of force along the parade route: the riot gear, the tear gas, the tank, &c. It was clear to me that nothing was over.
One 30ish woman sitting near me began shouting:
"Wasn't that fun? Excersiing our right to free assembly and petition our government for a redress of grievances through a gauntlet of riot police-- and the tank! the tank was nice!"
Her voice broke and she seemed near tears, and the crowd near me, at least, voiced support and agreement. Face it, we'd been humiliated and totally defeated; our message of anti-biotech and anti-genetic engineering had been suppressed; drown out by the intimidating police state show of force. suddenly i saw a few black bloc anarchists bolt from the capital steps and sprint south towards N Street. this sudden action instantly stampeded the resentful crowd, and in seconds 100's of demonstrators were sprinting across the lawn for the N street side of the park. i dropped my bike and ran for it.
Finally! the crowd's resentment against the cops had boiled over-- and the protest had veered off its caged in, highly regulated, tightly controlled, and totally ineffective course.
lights camera action!
we reached the street and the crowd stopped on the N street bikepath and confronted the overwhelmingly huge police force lining the government ministry across the street. chants of "whose streets? our streets!" went up, led by a black bloc with a bullhorn.
Everyone began shouting, and the anarchists stood on the barricades and shouted at the cops. 100's of sheriff's officers immediately ran behind us, between the crowd and the capital building.
nothing happened. the riot police glared at us and we glared back. the crowd began to mill around, uncertain what to do. i heard more resentful talk about the totally unnecessary police show of force. all of a sudden i saw a group of police on bikes, about 16 strong (and i can't think of any other word for it) attack a circluar, arm locked scrum of anarchists on the lawn, and try to arrest them. (i only found out later when i read on the http://portland.indymedia.org site, that the police were demanding that the black bloc surrender a gas mask.)
in any case, this melée was instantly surrounded by clashing demonstrators and officers, who were pushing people down and tasing them.
a second group of sheriff's officers moved in, but 100's of activists from the crowd on the southwest side of the park mobbed the police, who were still struggling with the anarchists. the sheriff's department responded by forming in a diagonal line across the protest from the capital building steps all the way to the intersection of 10th and N streets, cutting off the southwest side of the park from the rest of the protest. i ran to the back of the second ring surrounding the police and held up my camera as high as i could. at the back i could hardly see what was happening.
the police struggling with the anarchists were unnerved and confused upon being surrounded, and we pressed in closer and closer. it was truly an overwhelming show of force, but this time on the part of the protestors!
we continued to press closer and shouted them down. first "let them go!! let them go!!" and then "the whole world is watching! the whole world is watching!!" which was essentially true. i've never seen more camcorders and digital cams recording one event in my life.
personally i didn't do anything except chant, press in with the crowd, and take dozens of pictures-- but so many of us did it that it was enough.
at one point an enraged cop charged after a retreating demonstrator; pushing him back until the cop suddenly found himself alone in a sea of protestors, who pressed in, shouting "get his badge number! get his badge number!" at this, the cop wheeled around and ran back to the police lines.
throughout the battle the circle of anarchists remained bravely arm locked together, resisting the cops' commands. as we pressed in closer some protestors broke through the cops to the inner cirlce, and this was what broke the officers' will to finish the arrests.
i personally watched as an officer near the anarchists spoke on his radio, and then gave the order to retreat. a cheer went up as the police backed away from the black bloc. in the end it became a complete rout, as the victorious activists drove the officers out of the park and back onto N street. we had won!
someone next to me grabbed one of the anarchists and hugged him.
"im just glad we were here with you man!" he yelled triumphantly.
i was exhilarated by the solidarity of the crowd, and by what we had achieved in the battle.
i think we all felt like that: we'd redeemed and avenged our defeat on the parade route; freed the anarchists; forced the cops back to the street-- and just for once we'd defied the police state authorities en mass, and there wasn't anything the dumb pigs could do about it!
i was just glad to have been there with all of you. thanks for bringing resistance to sacto!