Tag Archives: protests

Redefining citizen press at the RNC

I wrote previously about The Uptake and their amazing live video Qik coverage of the RNC. But the citizen and independent press at the RNC was even more impressive the more I got into it.

I am a regular user of Twitter (@tfooq), and I’m intrigued by the medium’s potential. But following users like @notq, @theuptake, @coldsnaplegal, @webster and @mnindylive completely opened the RNC to me in a way no live media experience ever has.

Many users around the protests, mostly interested in keeping track of police brutality and helping the protesters keep track of police movements, would send out Twitter posts with bits of information or commentary on experiences. Nathan Oyler (@notq) was one of the best people to follow because, sitting in his Arizona home, kept track of the massive amount of RNC protest-related posts (while also watching the live video from The Uptake) and re-posted each interesting bit. When the action on the group heated up, this was not a small task. Here is an example of just a couple minutes:

The following are posts by Twitter user @notq:

Shot after shot protestors being pounded with gas. Cannot see close enough to give details.

“Firebombs! They grabbed me and said move!”

hitting us over and over. Split us up firing flashbangs into other group.

Chants are back..”who’s streets..our streets!”

people are starting to not be able to see to tweet.

A friend emails: “isn’t using snowplows to block peaceful protesters the mn nice version of tiananmen square?”

tear gas all around the capitol. stay safe.

crowd mostly scattered. They are firing grenades at individuals.

Reporters form the Daily Planet and the Uptake in custody at Ramsey County detention center

cpatton this is fucked no reason for this

Are we no longer Americans? Are we no longer people?

“It’s all happening in the Sears parking lot right now”

i’m just putting in reports, none of this is me, this is all people on the ground.

is natl media covering this?? THIS IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL

police calling for more masks! They are gassing he small peacful crowd. More flashbangs.

Uptakers minus Corrine and friend in car and safe in sears parking lot. Attempting to get to the office.

Ppl are told to go on bridge..everyone is afraid if they do they will be arrested

Several people have been writing about @notq (including this one by Nancy Scola at techpresident.com). What fascinates me is not just the insight it gave me as a follower of the events from my home in the then-recovering Denver, but also the ability of the medium to help those on the ground.

As a protester of the DNC in Denver, I remember turning around to suddenly find a large group of riot cops trapping us into a city block around 15th and Colfax. The first thought I had was, “Man, we should have radios.” After all, they not only have the weapons, but they have the radios. We can have radios and still be peaceful protesters.

But what about iPhones or BlackBerries? I guess it’s kind of unlikely for an anarchist to have a $100/mo data plan and an iPhone, but they proably should. If we had the kind of information delivered at the RNC, maybe we would not have been taken down so quickly.

But who all is following the tweets? Besides medics, protesters and journalists on the ground and people like me following from home, surely the cops, FBI, Secret Service, Halliburton, whoever cares are following also. Like ideal journalism, very good, specific, live citizen journalism like this puts information into the open. It makes the events transparent to all with access to it (so, people with fancy phones or computers). I felt that between The Uptake and the people I followed on Twitter (and my personal experience in Denver) I really had a good grasp on what was happening at the most intense events of the week as they happened.

This brings me to corporate “journalism”. I did like some of the coverage coming out of the Pioneer Press (but the Star Tribune had no concept of what was happening). The PP really seemed to want to get the word out to their readers (which would have included the Republicans at the convention) what was happening in the streets while they were schmoozing at some expensive party or doing whatever it is they did in the Xcel Center. Sure, they trusted the police more than I would have liked them to (they lie constantly, after all), but I guess that’s standard “balanced” journalism or whatever.

But other corporate press had nothing. More coverage inside the staged, phony convention, and no or next-to-no coverage of the real people in streets getting their asses blown up by a $50 million army of violent, heavily armed police. But Cindy McCain’s outfit totalled $313,100! (OK, that is pretty ridiculous. Didn’t they just get ripped on about some houses they lost count of?) Oh, and Sarah Palin. Do you think she has enough experience?

What a joke.

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Elliot Hughes tortured in jail during RNC

I don’t even know what to say about this. I am seriously shaken up by Elliot Hughes’s account of what happened to him in a Ramsey county jail after being arrested during an RNC protest. Just, listen: (video courtesy of The Uptake)

That is way worse than even I thought was going on, and I thought they were doing some fucked up stuff. But torture like this is insane and unbelievable.

I can’t help make the link to the John McCain video showed later at the Convention. It spends a lot of time talking about McCain’s torture experience during Vietnam. All this while an American prison tortures a 19-year-old after arresting him at a protest so that John McCain’s video about him being tortured could be shown without interruption by concerned Americans demanding freedom and democracy.

I don’t know what more to say about it. It really does not need explanation.

UPDATE: Help the abuse get attention by Digging the video.

Also, here is the video of his arrest. As you can see, the cops ran into him, knocking him off his bike, then arrested him for assaulting them…

UPDATE 2: Here is another video of people who experienced police brutality at the RNC along with Elliot.

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Protest planning is now a felony

Free Robert Joseph Czernik, Erik Charles Oseland, Garrett Scott Fitzgerald, Max Jacob Specktor, Monica Rachel Bicking, Nathanael David Secor, Luce Gullen-Givins, and Eryn Chase Trimmer!

These eight protest organizers, arrested before the RNC even got started, have been charged with “felony conspiracy”. Here are some of the things they did to receive this charge, according to the Pioneer Press:

  • One of the pieces of literature found at the office used by the group, at 627 Smith Ave. in St. Paul, read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.”
  • When officers executed the search warrant on the office, they found 68 people, most from out of state, along with sector maps of St. Paul, flares, PVC pipe, slingshots and a 6 foot by 10 foot map with color-coded entrances and exits to downtown.
  • At 3:25 p.m. on Monday, as clashes between violent protesters and police raged, an informant told police that Czernik was inside a rented office at 287 E. 6th St. in St. Paul monitoring activities. When they arrived, officers found six police scanners, and they believed Czernik fled out a window.
  • Several of the eight went on tours to numerous cities and attended dozens of meetings to plan the protests.
  • That all sounds an awful lot like … protest planning!

    Let’s see, rounding up support in other cities, organizing with interested Americans all across the U.S. That sounds like an excellent protest planning strategy. Actually, that’s above and beyond what your standard American would do for his/her beliefs. Political action from the ground up…isn’t that a good thing?

    They were listening to police scanners during a protest. Is this illegal? The dude at the gas station down the street from me does this all the time, and the media has those things going all day, too. If I had friends who were trying not to get shut down by police, a police scanner would be a great tool to help them out. Hell, if the reports generated from the police scanner move a crowd before cops get there, isn’t that a good thing? Less clashing means less violence, right? Oh wait, these cops love throwing their concussion grenades and tear gas. So charge them with conspiracy to prevent a cop from having fun by hurting a bunch of protesters and press with mass crowd control weaponry.

    When the officers executed their illegal search warrant, they found maps marking different entrances and exits to the city and a bunch of smelly kids who were staying there. No crime yet (unless you take fire codes really seriously in the Twin Cities. Even then, it might not even be against fire code). Oh yeah, and some PVC pipe. You can see that in action holding up banners in just about any protest video or photo. Just a tool of the trade for protesting. Nothing illegal yet.

    They had some literature that read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.” Here’s a good question, what law protects this convention, anyway? I’m sure there is a law about it, since the people going make the laws, but why should people be allowed to get to the convention? Sure, any person should be free to go wherever they want, but is that worth an army of cops to protect? I say, if your political party has pissed people off so badly that they are willing to risk their bodies shutting down every entrance to an entire city in order to keep you from getting to your big bash, then you don’t deserve to go to your party. Big deal. If you want a party next year, don’t piss the masses off. Democracy in action.

    All this aside, I am confused how having literature that talks big really counts as illegal here. Literature ain’t illegal. If I want to write something that gets people wanting to do something illegal, that is not illegal (unless it urges violence against a group). Shutting down every single entrance to a city with a mass of protesting bodies is not violent, no matter how you spin it. They are not throwing people from cars or anything. They are stopping traffic with dancing and a sweet marching band. (video courtesy of The Uptake)

    So, give them tickets for conspiring to commit a traffic violation, charge them $25 each and let them go. Anything more than that, and the cops will officially be declaring protest planning illegal.

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    Live citizen video journalism at the RNC

    I have been captivated by the live video coverage of today’s RNC protests by The Uptake. It has been emotional, scary, tense, funny and informative throughout the day (and still continues as of this writing).

    TV news better be frightened, because now regular people can do everything they can (except, of course, for the giant paychecks).

    The Uptake has two reporters with the ability for live feeds (though the technology limits them to doing bursts of video instead of a consistent stream, it seems). They have one video window embedded in their main page that is powered through Qik. When one person stops transmitting, it will switch to the other stream, if it is going. So you can just sit and wait for video to start. It’s pretty nice. I am sure with a little more organization, this will truly be the new way to cover live events.

    Let’s just say that capitalist media is not really doing this yet. Compare the coverage by the Star Tribune with the coverage at The Uptake and you’ll see what I mean.

    In other news, the cops keep spraying big media photojournalists. In Denver it was New York Times photographer Christian Hansen, and in the Twin Cities it is an AP photographer. Here it is, first-person:

    courtesy of the AP

    courtesy of the AP

    Seems like a bad tactic to me, but it hasn’t really backfired quite yet. Come on, big media, get mad. That pepper spray hurts

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    Cops illegally raid RNC protesters

    If there is a lesson to be learned from these convention protests, it’s that security culture is more important than anyone had previously thought. Infiltration lead to the illegal arrests of many at an Unconventional Denver action August 25, and now infiltration has led to a series of illegal raids and arrests of members of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

    “We are making sure that people here to legitimately protest have the right to do that, but people engaging in criminal activity are not going to be able to do that,” said St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. So Coleman now feels he can define “legitimate” protest? I guarantee these Americans in jail considered their protests pretty fucking legitimate. Free speech does not mean free speech that the mayor thinks is OK.

    Here is an excellent submedia.tv video about the raids:

    Let’s be clear here. These people have been arrested in suspicion that they might do something illegal. And, of course, they just so happen to be leaders of an organization that is critical of the police and our government. The police are claiming crazy things, like that they were collecting urine to throw on cops. Here in Denver, that sounds awfully familiar. Did they find any urine or feces in Denver?

    Of course not!

    Police are using the time they have before they allow their prisoners a chance to tell their side of the story to try to win support from the public by painting the protesters as crazy, urine-collecting sociopaths. It’s like kindergarten, except the bullies have guns and pepper spray instead of crayons.

    The submedia video above is really great for this exact purpose. It juxtaposes the police misinformation about anarchists with the obvious truth that these are regular people, too. They shower, brush their teeth, have senses of humor, drink coffee. In fact, they are not only human, but many spend their time feeding people FOR FREE through Food Not Bombs. How many cops do that?

    A legal observer at the DNC made an interesting observation during a Denver Open Media interview about the August 25 police violence. As these anarchists were running away from the cops’ pepper spray super-soakers, he noticed that all of them made sure to avoid stepping on the flowers in Civic Center Park. Somehow, that image sums up everything.

    Bill Johnson of the Rocky Mountain News wrote a column about the police state that could not be more spot on.

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    Cops have violently occupied Denver

    courtesy of the Denver Post

    courtesy of the Denver Post

    Our country truly is a police state. Anyone who says we are free is a liar.

    I just moved to Denver three days ago, and knew it would be exciting with the DNC in town and all. But after watching the actions of the $50 million police force against unarmed American dissenters, I am thoroughly convinced that we are not free. Just look at the photo above. And this is from the Denver Post, who have not exactly been supportive of the protesters. But there is no way to hide the fact that these cops are violently subduing dissenting opinions with massive, overwhelming “Shock and Awe” force against American citizens who do not agree with the government and demand change.

    And all this force is needed to secure the power of the “good” party. This is our supposedly anti-war party. This is our “hope”. Jesus.

    I watched a protester run out of the conflict with the cops screaming and crying, drop to her knees, grasp her face, medics running to help her. If you wear contacts when you get pepper sprayed, the contacts can fuse to your eyes and blind you. Volunteer anarchist medics are the only reason there were not permanent injuries during the clash. The cops brought absolutely no medical help with them. Medical help is not their concern, only violence against the dissenters.

    If you choose to ignore what is going on here, then fuck you. People are getting the shit beat out of them fighting for your freedom. Either come to Denver and join the ranks, or do what you can to support them at home.

    The amount of money ($100 million, $50 million for each convention) required to maintain a large enough police force to subdue dissenters in this nation is rising quickly. Our “two” party capitalist fascist government is showing a slight sign of weakness. Too bad our capitalist press does not give favorable coverage to anticapitalists getting the shit beat out of them. I wonder if that’s because they make their money off the corrupt system the police are defending…

    Denver is under attack. We need back up, however you can give it.

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