Monday, August 21, 2017

Police Tactics and Performance Art

Characterizing last Saturday's "free speech" demonstration in Boston as a dangerous "white supremacist" gathering, opposed by principled, peaceful protest, is an open conspiracy.

The conspiracy isn't just open to public view, it's open to public participation. The mayor and media's histrionics prompted tens of thousands to turn out, as if to a casting call for a reality show where everyone is assured of being picked. It's performance art. It's postmodern. We participate in our own delusion, manipulation (alienation, dispossession...).

I'm not sure there's a historical precedent.

With its more provocative players scared off or kept away, twenty or so not overly white and not very nationalist demonstrators who came to give speeches in support of free expression (in the manner of previous "free speech" rallies in response to antifa shutting down Milo at UC Berkeley) huddled in a gazebo from which they were ejected before they could--small point missed by media--actually exercise their freedom of speech and assembly.

In a sane world this would be a victory for the demonstrators, and lend real weight to their assertion that freedom of speech is under threat.
Yet rather than acknowledging at least the courage it took this tiny band facing off against an angry mob of thousands, the media response was to gloat that the "white supremacists" had been turned away by an inspiring outpouring of resistance to Hate. That same resistance turned their wrath and piss on the police for two reasons: for protecting the "Nazis" from them and for being police, which they equate with Nazis. The mayor and police chief were nonetheless grateful for their service in opposing Hate.

The Siege of the Gazebo

It's notable that no press appeared to be inside the original demonstration. All the available documentation comes from participants. The rally itself is barely noted in media accounts focusing on the massive counter-rally and the relationship to Charlottesville.

In this production you only see the bad guys from a distance. It isn't as if liberal media wouldn't like to give us close shots of Real Live Nazis. Unite the Right gave it to them. They must have been hugely disappointed in Boston.

I'm reminded of a joke in the film Tootsie: a director with a homely actress asks his cameraman how far he can pull back. The cameraman responds, "how about Cleveland?"
To make these Nazis look good they had to pull all the way back to Atlanta, DC, Manhattan.

The rally was to feature Joe Biggs, formerly of Info Wars, Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman and writer Cassandra Fairbanks (who cancelled because of death threats). 

The Boston police chief thanked the mob for its performance (overall, I presume):
[Police Chief] Evans became the most animated after a reporter said organizers alleged speakers were unable to get to the “free speech” rally.
“We had a job to do; we did a great job,” he said. 
“I’m not going to listen to people who come in here and want to talk about hate. And you know what, if they didn’t get in, that’s a good thing ’cause their message isn’t what we want to hear.”
Overall, Evans called it a “great day for the city. 
“I’m really impressed,” he said.
“We probably had 40,000 people out here, standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city, and that’s a good feeling.”
Already forgotten the embarrassing part about police being doused with urine. You have to wonder if Boston's rank and file cops feel the same way. Don't hit me with a urine cocktail and tell me it's raining, Chief.

Boston couldn't help but bring one thing into the light. The Charlottesville Police cannot pretend they didn't know how to handle last week's rally.

There is a model; I've witnessed it myself in Cleveland at the RNC last year and here in Portland more than once. It isn't complicated. You form police lines between hostile groups, keep the streets clear and don't take any shit from antifa. What should be standard but isn't, and wasn't in Democratic Virginia despite a law on the books (fittingly, an anti-Klan law), and would be huge: banning masks.

Here in Portland we had a similar standoff, when another alt right group held a "free speech rally" across from City Hall June 4.

The city pressured that demonstration to cancel too. Weeks before a lunatic stabbed two men on a commuter train who had interceded when he was verbally abusing a Muslim woman. That man had turned up at a rally somewhere with a Nazi flag recently. Naturally, it was argued, the free speech group (Joey Gibson of Vancouver, who seems to be some sort of Christian conservative, organized the rally featuring Baked Alaska and the same Stickman character who was supposed to appear in Boston), would have to stand down in shame because the madman was identified as One of Theirs.

Not that it should matter, but the commuter train killer was all over the map politically; a Bernie supporter and wild virtue-signalling anti-racist at points. He seems to have been angry at everyone. There's also the problem of what exactly happened: the knifeman wasn't attacking the woman when the two intervened.

The city has endured strange paroxysms in response to Trump; there really is no conservative institution or faction to take it out on. The annual Rose Parade was cancelled rather than risk antifa attacks on the mild Republican chapter that was scheduled to march.

There's the police, of course, always the police, especially now that corporate America and what used to be called the Establishment is behind the demonstrators almost without qualification; even the police, to the extent they're part of the Establishment (which is really crazy when you think of it) are behind them, when they stand before them and endure their abuse. They are Tom Wolfe's "flak catchers", government agents on hand to endure abuse from angry minorities.

Of course any such gathering now is violently anti-police. It is that way because of the perception of how the police treat blacks. When the leftist American terrorist Weatherman group, experiencing a crisis of legitimacy, leveled up to attempted murder, the police were their target, and for the same reason they are now:
The people Weatherman intended to kill were policemen..."(w)e didn't want to do things just around the war. We wanted to be seen targeting racism as well, so police were important."
(...)
The decision to attack policemen was an unspoken act of solidarity with the group whose approval mattered most to Weatherman leadership: Movement blacks, especially the Black Panthers, who reserved a special hatred for urban police. The death of Fred Hampton and the brutality of the Chicago police in general made almost everyone in the leadership eager to seek revenge against policemen. 
"In our hearts, we all wanted to be Black Panthers...what the Panthers wanted to do, which is what the Black Liberation Army did later, and that's kill policemen. It's all they wanted to do."
Portland Police Bureau operates under federal injunction for its supposed mistreatment of the mentally ill. The city all but went looking for a federal decision showing racial bias, but having more crazies than blacks, had to settle.

 Many of the right-wingers came in provocative armor, inspired by Kyle Chapman, who spoke (the parts of speeches I heard were uninspiring and barely provocative, much less "hateful"). The atmosphere inside the rally was light. My impression was there was a good deal of LARPing going on, with a few serious characters. Oathkeepers worked the perimeter co-coordinating with police.






They were surrounded on three sides: one demonstration before City Hall to the west, one before the ugly federal building to the east, and one large, menacing antifa group to the north:






Caches of weapons and projectiles were found around the park. When antifa began taking apart a brick wall and clashing with police they were cleared out:




The park where the rally was being held was cordoned off  by police with entry and exit limited to one street corner. I walked freely between demonstrations (dressed in bland non-partisan fashion) and wasn't noticed, much less hassled:



Trouble was anticipated after the rally dispersed and, presumably, antifa would seek out smaller groups to attack. Most contention was contained. Antifa did not reappear in significant numbers after being driven off the first time.

Here's some more bad converted Periscope video, wherein I'm briefly harassed by a salt and pepper pair, a suspiciously over-exuberant Black Panther LARPer and his antifa-masked pal. I write "suspiciously" also because I saw the same character hand someone over to cops on video someone else took.

Unfortunately there's no sound. The local BLM faction arrived late (insert Dark Time joke here) and blocked a street briefly (that's what you see at the start of this) and a girl was pepper-sprayed:



 



  

I can't imagine this going off without significant violence now. The part of social justice warrior, never clearly defined, has changed. It's been modified through competitive improvisation. Now the actor so cast considers the possibility of tolerance and thinks no, that wouldn't be consistent with the character.

And he would be right.

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