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Among our many activities this weekend, we spent yesterday afternoon at the Chicago protest rally/march. I would guess 8-10,000 of my fellow Chicagoland peacefolk showed up (media reports are saying 1,000-1,500, but that is just so wrong), along with every single Chicago cop and every sheriff's deputy and state police officer within a hundred miles. In addition to the line of cops in full riot-gear on each side of the marchers, there was a line of cops following us one block to either side -- I had never seen anything like that. We heard rumors before the march started that no one would be allowed to leave until it was finished, ostensibly to prevent people from trying to block traffic, and the line of cops a block over seemed to confirm that rumor. Once we got moving though, people didn't seem to have any problem leaving.
I didn't see any arrests or related trouble, but, jeez, trying to do anything under the watchful eye of thousands of police in riot helmets is damned unnerving, to say the least. There was a moment when the march hit Michigan Ave., turned north to Randolph and went east, where the road was blocked with police buses, that I got the distinct impression of being herded toward some unpleasant end. I couldn't see where we were going, and I was getting nervous. But we just went up to Water (or was it Stetson?) and turned back down Lake to head toward Dearborn again. I saw exactly two counter-protesters walking on the other side of the Thick Blue Line.
One major gripe, and this is about a few of my fellow protesters. A group of about a dozen communist/anarchist/revolutionary types had a half-mile hailer, through which one gent tirelessly yelled ridiculous slogans for the entire route (and occasionally treated us to piercing blasts of feedback). He loudly denounced anyone holding an American flag or a sign saying "Support the Troops -- Bring them Home" as being, basically, a sickening dupe of the imperialist capitalist-pig machine with the blood of the workers on his or her hands, etc. There were six of us in our little marching party and, try as we may, we could not escape the tyranny of this idiot and his loudspeaker, and we couldn't hear what anyone else had to say. So, fuck you, revolutionaries! You suck, and no one likes you anyway!
Also, the CPD were kind enough to let their horses walk the march route before we started moving, so every few yards we had to step around great big piles of shit.
Replies: 2 Confessions
"If you go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao... you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow..."
It's always been this way, I guess.
You know, I tend to support the radical critique of socialists, anarchists, etc... these are generally very smart guys and girls, very passionate, and I would venture to say... usually right in their analysis of power. A lot of more Middle Of The Road types won't come out if there's a big game on or something, but these guys.... unstoppable.
But your description made me feel the bristling I encounter so commonly among more middle of the road activists. Your guy in Chicago really sounds like an obnoxious idiot who no matter how much he thinks he knows about US foreign policy knows precious little about how his neighbors feel about these tactics.
This is the first time I've heard a blogger slamming the radical lefties at a demo where I don't see any reason to disagree.
Fortunately down here in Austin we have much nicer, warm fuzzy radicals who get the crowd going but don't embarrass us.
There is that almost naked guy with the drum tho. He makes me nervous.
PS. Are you suggesting those cops landmined the parade route with horse shit on purpose? Perish the thought!
Joe B. @ 04/07/2003 12:37 PM CST
You know, I suppose it's great that the ISO, RCP, etc. are willing to show up at every event, with their overly wordy signs and their newspapers and all. But the loudspeaker was a bit much. The arrogance of these 12 guys using their little noise machine to out-shout thousands of other people during the entire march was appalling. Singling out other marchers in order to shriek battery-powered insults at them is very bad form for a peace march.
Having been an activist for more than a decade now, I've met plenty of these guys and found their sense of entitlement just as pronounced as the rich frat-boy types they claim to be against.
amyc @ 04/07/2003 02:21 PM CST