Oppression of dissent during the two party pageantry, and dissent itself, ignored by mainstream, liberals

Police use of unnecessary force reframes public discussion away from critical analysis of the way things are run now, Legba Carrefour reports (republished on Douglas Rushkoff's blog). As part of this there has been an apparent targeting of media and support groups. Carrefour writes that police set up:

free-speech zones–protest pens–into which to corral the bulk of demonstrators and any kind of activity was almost immediately curbed. The other major problem was that there was effectively zero press coverage, even among liberal bloggers. I spent my week seeing liberal blogs excitedly gush about what was going on inside the convention and rail about Republican radicalism of the last eight years while I was cradling a phone in my hand listening to friends tell me stories of being beaten up a couple of blocks away.

That lack of coverage in a lot of respects really emboldens the police and allows them to get away with just about anything, aside from it absolutely impoverishing our ability to engage in a reasoned analysis of how power works and whether the Democrat vs. Republican frame actually depicts anything even close to reality.

And, speaking of police brutality, it’s pretty notable that they’ve been consistently targeting press. There was a documented incident where an ABC news producer was knocked down and arrested trying to get footage of delegates and donors. The police also detained and seized the equipment of the Glass Bead Collective (a well-known indymedia group). There was also the knocking down and detainment of a Code Pink member–probably the worst bit was seeing her get shoved down, the footage then cutting to her being interviewed by journalists, and then the cop walking up and grabbing her in the middle of the interview and dragging her off.

But that kind of one-time sensational pushing doesn’t really capture the full scale of what was going on. Marches were immediately surrounded by walls of police, people were told to leave, and then they weren’t given any exit to leave and those who tried were arrested. There was a 100+ person mass arrest after the police simply decided that a large group of people milling about looked “suspicious” and were carrying rocks (which were never found, naturally), a convergence space was raided, and vehicles were simply stopped and searched and equipment was seized.

Of course, government repression of free speech and free association is its own story worthy of coverage, and the successful coordination of federal, state, and local police to shut down much-needed dissent at events in Denver and Minneapolis, of all places, is sobering. Carrefour's idea that even press about police brutality is preferable to our dear leaders than discussion of non-electoral political organizing is very interesting.

Note: Free Speech Radio News (where I serve as a rather inactive board director) also has some good audio coverage. See also, if you haven't already, Brenda Norrell's reports here on the Narcosphere. Read more of Carrefour's report.

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About Benjamin Melançon

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Student-on-hold, ex-stocker and failed union agitator, ex-white-collar consultant and now co-founder and developer at Agaric Design Collective, making web sites with open source free software.

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