An RNC Wrapup

Yep, I survived the RNC. (They ought to sell t-shirts with that on ’em, don’t you think?) I even managed to do so without getting pepper sprayed, tear gassed, hit with an “impact round”, blinded or disoriented by a flashbang grenade, or arrested. Nobody got killed, the most serious injury I heard about was a woman who got stepped on by a horse, the anarchist’s plans largely came to nothing, and a lot of anarchists got arrested. So, yeah, it was a pretty good week.

An investigation by two of my least-favorite law-enforcement agencies – the Ramsey County Sheriff and the FBI – supported what I’ve been saying for months, now: the RNC Welcoming Committee are criminals. Authorities cracked down on the group in the days ahead of the convention, getting – among other things – a number of molotov cocktails off the streets.

Incidentally, something to make you ponder: anarchists are stereotypically privileged white kids who rebel against the perceived injustices of the system; a big part of that rebellion is not just a disdain for money, but open, almost ostentatious disregard for it. The Welcoming Committee was no different; with the exception of one or two members – who didn’t get arrested, oddly enough – most seemed to be living – or squatting – in fairly squalid communal housing. I’d guess none of those arrested paid more than $350 a month in rent; what they did to earn money, I have no idea. (Trust funds?) Over the last year, the Welcoming Committee begged and begged for money, going so far as to head on a cross-country fundraising trip. A big chunk of that money probably went towards renting the disused theatre here in Saint Paul they used as a “convergence space” during the convention. Yet all of the eight members arrested were able – within a couple of days – to get out of jail on $75,000 bail. Assuming – as seems reasonable – that they got “scheduled” bond, that means each one of them was able to come up with $7,500 on fairly short notice. That’s more than I, or most of the people I know, have in savings. Even if you’re really cynical, and suggest that the one member’s rich dad ponied up all the money, that’s still $60,000! Anarchists always complain about how the money spent on this or that unpopular government program (like the war in Iraq) could be put to better use; I can’t help but think that most anarchists would agree there are better ways to spend $60,000 than getting eight kids accused of some pretty damnable criminal acts out of jail.

One interesting footnote to the whole RNC Welcoming Committee saga: it appears they were infiltrated by a government informant who also just so happens to be a fairly prominent member of the region’s urban exploration community. You kind of have to wonder: did the government recruit an urban explorer to be an anarchist, or did they recruit an anarchist to be an urban explorer? Mysteries, mysteries. (You could try heading over to Andy/Panda’s website and asking him yourself, but the odds of your getting an honest answer are even worse than the odds of getting any answer at all, I’d say.)

I wasn’t on the streets much; I had to work during most of the RNC-related fun. Still, I managed to keep abreast of things with Twitter when I could. To be honest, it didn’t provide a real good glimpse of what was going on, but it did provide for a lot of laughs. Most memorable: reports of a chant of “you’re sexy, you’re cute, take off that riot suit” directed at police by protesters, reports mis-identifying the bomb squad’s disposal trailer as either a “cauldron of boiling oil” (WTF?) or a cellphone jammer, and a now-infamous message from someone caught up in the last riot of the week, as things came to a head: “cops, swat, horses, bikes, hundreds here, we’re fucked”.

I don’t really have any interesting stories or anecdotes from the whole thing, sad to say, but I’ll leave you with a link to an incredibly awesome photograph taken by someone else, and which is now my computer desktop. As the local Indymedia kids say, “even in the New World Order, we can has cheezeburger!”…

Published in: General, Urban Exploration | on September 8th, 2008| Comments Off on An RNC Wrapup

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