Preemptive Crowd Control
‘I am seriously worried about the way protesters are being
singled out, and met with violent and unaccountable behavior, for
legal free speech activity, by police in America,’ writes Kirsten
Anderberg in a posting to Infoshop.org. Unfortunately, anyone who
heard about the Robocop-like police presence at Miami’s FTAA
protests in November has reason to concur with her fear. As
Anderberg points out and aggressive police tactics demonstrate,
protesting — as a form of peaceful free speech or not — is
definitely not welcomed by the guardians of law and order
According to Anderberg, not only are police more likely to show
up at protests than at other potentially dangerous large public
gatherings (like sporting events), they are also more likely to
treat protesters questioning the government more harshly than those
supporting administration policies. She points to a Seattle
anti-war protest in March, 2003, at which she claims Seattle police
demonstrated a double-standard that favored pro-war protesters and
unduly cracked down on anti-war protesters. ‘These riot police
serve a political purpose of intimidation, and of paternalistic,
public repression of free speech,’ she writes.
Responses to Anderberg’s posting seem mostly supportive of her
claims. ‘I think that any public gathering that lets people get
control of the spaces around them instead of cops or business is
dangerous to authority,’ argues one reader with the handle Peligro.
Other respondents cite instances of police brutality or offered
techniques for avoiding the wrath of riot police. The bottom line:
don’t expect fair treatment if you’re protesting government
— Erica Wetter
Go there>> Preemptive Crowd
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