city, running

Protesting … peace?

Well, I’m sure if you’re watching the news lately, you’re seeing more about the hurricane than about the RNC (the big republican convention) event here in St. Paul.

But just in case you do see pictures from St. Paul of the police in riot gear, and tear gas bombs, rest assured that so far this week, hubbie and I are ok and are also able to slip by the excitement to get to work and on time.

We do live within a couple miles of the action – and just 4 blocks away from the site of the Friday police raid of a place where a national anarchist group has its temporary local headquarters (they have rented an unused theatre building).

Some good photos of the ugly stuff are here.

I went for a run last night that took me within a quarter mile of the excitement (not intentionally), and upon my return, found that the bridge that was between me and my house -the High Bridge- was blockaded. Not just with squad cars and police officers, but with huge dump trucks-one for each lane on both ends of bridge. Nobody was getting on that bridge. This had been set up within an hour. Luckily, the police were calm and helpful, and within 10 minutes or so they started letting pedestrians over.

On the other side there was quite a gathering, of local onlookers as well as some of the types of people just looking for trouble. And the KARE-11 van. Before I crossed, one woman, about my age, maybe a little older, even commented to me, “oh, I really should have been a kid in the 60s. I just love this stuff! I wonder if they’d let me in?” Oh, good lord. If she were just talking about the peace marchers, that’s fine. And probably likely, in retrospect. Or maybe she’s a molotov cocktail/bucket-of-urine -throwing type. Who knows. I went home to cook some Dover sole for dinner.

I now think -and hope- that my bridge was closed for a short while because tear gas was wafting up to it, from below, and if so, I’m really glad I didn’t wander into that stuff. I watched a few boats with bunting on them pass below the bridge, and wondered if there were dignitaries of some sort, who needed the bridge secured in order for them to pass, but that seems a bit ridiculous. In the past month, locals have been informed of the planned road closures, but all notices were footnoted with a disclaimer about unplanned closures that may occur, in reaction to protester actions. I’d already planned to do most of my commutes via bicycle this week, anyway. And even so, I’ll have to modify my usual route.

The prior 6 miles of my run were a little different from usual, as well, but mainly in terms of scenery. I saw no fewer than 10 or so squad cars, 20+ police officers parked at various corners, and plenty (20+) of the people they were worried about: young, kind of dirty-looking, darkly-dressed “protesters” from out of town, milling about, all within a mile of the convention site. Now, it’s very possible that many of them were College of Visual Arts students (similar outfits are de rigueur), returning to school for the fall semester. But I doubt it. The huge art pads & plastic tool boxes were conspicuously missing.

I’m not sure what to make of them, but they do have a certain look, and they’re not particularly friendly-most I passed would barely make eye contact, even up on Ramsey Hill. As I finished getting a sip of water from a fountain at the foot of the bridge, a few of them approached, saying, “oh, man, you mean that works? We’ve been looking for water all over!” I told them, “Yep. There are about 5 functioning fountains within a mile of here.” The fountain did have some graffiti on it – and it was dry when I got there- so perhaps their assumption was understandable. Clearly, these folks aren’t from around here. Cool, come visit, spend a little cash, maybe. I’ll help you stay hydrated, even. Please don’t blow up my town, however. Don’t blow up the RNC delegates, either.

While there was a planned march for peace yesterday that went off swimmingly, the troublemakers appear to be these people who… just like to make trouble. They’re not protesting anything other than public order (and maybe perceived or real police brutality). The police showed up in riot gear from a good reason. If your group is about anarchy, and some of you show up wearing face masks, why wouldn’t they? Good grief.

Now, I hope those people from New Orleans are doing ok. Hopefully they’ve all left.


2 thoughts on “Protesting … peace?

  1. I agree with you, but it also seems like a lot of people just got arrested to keep them from doing normal citizen things like…taking photographs and such.I’m not a big fan of a government that throws journalists in jail.however…angry as I am about the administration and its foibles, i’m also not a fan of violent protest just for the sake of violent protest. Breaking windows at Macy’s only gets you arrested…it doesn’t make W. change his policy.All that aside… You have way more courage than I do — I wouldn’t have run downtown if ya paid me.

  2. I read about those photography arrests – so, did they temporarily declare certain NORMALLY public spaces (sidewalks!) as not public, for this event? I’m not a fan, either. I’ve left my camera home, lately. My courage (or desire to deal with hassle) only extended as far as running along Smith avenue then up Ramsey hill – just skirting the perimeter of downtown, really.

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