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A few days ago, there was a wonderfully written diary titled Revolution Porn. The author cautioned everyone against indulging in fantasies of anger and violence.  Since then, since the events in Times Square, we have all been reading diaries that express rage and indignation, purporting to show proof of police violence.  I was not there, and have not watched every single video, but I do wish to share my reaction to what I did see.

Time to make sure that we all analyse what really happened, and not create a meme in which it's "us against the police," NYPD or other jurisdiction. Time to keep the eyes on the prize.

I first posted part of this as a comment to another blog, but then thought I needed to expand.....

One video purporting to show "police violence" caught my eye.

Appropriate Use of Force vs Excessive Force

No. sorry, folks, I don't quite think so. Many years ago a friend of mine was a person who consulted with police departments on the topic of avoiding brutality. His main qualification for the job, seemed to be that he'd been a well -known organizer and activist in the sixties, but that is another story altogether. This was waaaay before the Rodney King beating, waay before our current ability to live-stream reports of these confrontations on to the Web. My acquaintance actually did some international travel, to the Eastern Bloc countries, to train them on western techniques. In those days, the Eastern bloc countries had a reputation for human rights violations.

In those days, I was an ICU nurse, and occasionally called down to our hospital E.R. to obtain blood alcohol samples on people brought there by local law enforcement. Some other blog, I can tell a few war stories, such as the time the guy said he couldn't possibly submit to a blood alcohol test becasue he was too drunk to give consent. (he thought he had found a novel catch-22 on that one). In that role, I interfaced with many of our local law enforcement guys, as we obtained the sample. Usually in a peaceful way but sometimes holding the person down.

Any way, I recall a conversation in which I said to my friend the consultant " For me, I would never want to be a cop, because it is imperative that the cop always win each confrontation, if it gets to that level." He agreed and said "I am always aware that on the one-on-one level, when force is being used, it is not easy to tell when the line has been crossed."

And so we have it today. At the time of the Rodney King incident, there was another consultant on police violence who appeared on a talk show, I think it was 60 Minutes, demonstrating the appropriate and inappropriate use of a nightstick to subdue a person. For example, you can incapacitate somebody by striking the shins, and you should avoid hitting the head.  when does hitting them become abuse? "When you start to enjoy it" was the answer - profound in it's own way.

I will leave the idea of tasers, apart for now.

I don't think so

But I digress. I view that video from the perspective of whether the techniques and the response seemed out of control. Yes, I am sure that the way the police acted, was a surprise to many who were present. I think they have lived sheltered lives til now.

Yes, there are lots of videos. Yes, we are excited, and trying to find ways to frame the experience. But the video, especially the one above, needs to be looked at from a tactical perspective.

Sports analogy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I personally do not like football although I was an athlete (water polo) in college, and I used to watch sports with my dad and brothers, growing up.

A good sports commentator will be able to watch the instant replay of something that happens on the field, and draw the X es and O s for the audience. Surely everyone has seen this somewhere along the way. This police action can be diagrammed in the same way, and described in the same terms you would employ to describe the action from the line of scrimmage.

Some of these videos, shot at night, were of very poor quality, but the one today with good lighting showed a clearly planned and well-executed response to crowd control, almost as if the police were the linemen of a football team. in fact, you could diagram what they were doing as if it were a sports play-by-play. The horses were in a phalanx, under control except for one incident in which a horse was momentarily spooked - I sure hope it was not due to having been assaulted by a protester.

Here is what I thought I saw on the video

the street patrolmen in front of the horses were maintaining an orderly line, and trying to reset the barricade despite the crowd. Yes, I did see them going at it, with a couple of the protesters. One in particular was a bald guy with a green jacket who was wearing a beret at first. the cop had a stick but did not hit him in the head; yes, I saw the cop in the video punch him, I think this was a two-way exchange. One cop in a white shirt and black necktie came over (a captain I guess) and you could see that the police made a conscious decision to pull the green shirted guy out of the line, through the police side, hustling him along on his way to getting arrested..... so, the police were able to execute an orderly process, almost a calm process, of separating out the ones they wanted, as evidenced by this video.

In other words, if you diagrammed the way the cops were acting in the video, it lends itself very well to X es and O s form a tactical point of view. They were executing a plan for which somewhere along the way, they must have drilled. Impressive. So, I think the police action overall was actually a success from the point-of-view of maintaining a sense of control; but as far as police over-reaction is concerned, I do not think there was any. I do think there were civilians who were getting carried away, and they were dealt with.

I think the accusations of police violence here, need to be toned down, and people who are going to be participating in these events as demonstrators, need to be better trained. I know there will be plenty of fired-up people who disagree. I have been disgusted by the talk about ways to retaliate against the police. That is not the way to win.

There is no Honor in this?

Now, I will also share my reaction to the Marine sergeant who spoke so eloquently to that group of officers.  I agree with that man a hundred per cent - there is no honor in this. But I also noticed that the group of officers standing right there, also showed a lot of discipline in deciding not to respond in any way. Not even to speak. Admirable. And his words apply to the deomnstrators as well - there is no honor in attacking the police. Let's resist the urge to create revolution porn.

to be violent, or to respond to violence by getting carried away, to escalate, or even to espouse violence, is not the answer. it never is.

A request

I have heard reports that the OWS collective has been training their people. I think that if these protests are to continue, everyone needs training, everyone needs to think of ways to stay calm and to focus on the issues, as opposed to getting carried away.

Open Thread on ways to educate yourself about crowd behavior during protests

SO - would you kindly do me a favor and cloudsource something for me? If you were the one trying to educate the future participants as to the way to act during a future protest, do you have a website, or a movie to recommend, or a book to read, or a story to tell?


I saw the video about police response and

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thinking Fella, martini, worldlotus, edrie

    "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

    by guavaboy on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 04:01:03 PM PDT

  •  I thought about posting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, guavaboy

    something similar, but yours is much better than mine. I'm sure it will be parsed long & hard by commentor's--and I'll leave it to them.

    I can see both sides here. I know many cops and most are just work-a-day dudes & women. Are some dickish & overzealous? Hell yes, jerks are everywhere, and cops are no different.

    I know I wouldn't do well on either side right up at the barricades. Couldn't be a cop with people screamimg at me when my boss is standing right there telling me what to do. Ever been 'set upon' by someone? Imagine 3000 yelling at you... That's one of many reasons I'm not a cop. Alternately, I couldn't just stand in front of a clown like Ofc. Bologna, Pepper Spray Devotee, while he wails on some girl... And that's why I'm not on the front lines. Some of the video I've seen has made me ...mad.

    This is a tough spot for everyone. I will say-if you are like me, and adverse to being shoved, hit, pepper sprayed, batoned, or arrested, better not put yourself in that position. And if you're a cop...have a little mercy. We all realize you have a job to do. Beating people isn't part of it.

    Just my thoughts...

    "The better I know people, the more I like my dog."

    by Thinking Fella on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 04:30:13 PM PDT

    •  thank you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thinking Fella

      got any suggestions as to how a person with YouTube and Netflix can get up to speed and develop some savvy as to nonviolent street tactics?

      I have a few, myself, and I will share them, but I also want others to suggest some.

      SOmebody else already posted something from the epic movie Gandhi.

      One of my favorites has been Norma Rae, a movie about union organizing down south (and Sally Field was totally hot in the flick!)

      I don't mean to belittle those on the front lines - but they do need to get a bit more sophisticated as to the skills of democracy -time to get schooled.....

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 04:47:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Always Wary of Extended Discussions (4+ / 0-)

    of on the ground events that include words like "I was not there" unless the subject is something secondary like media coverage.

    As indicated here, there is organizational attention being given on the ground to the subject of how to cope with authorities, and since the participants are a wide cross section of ages there's personal experience with protest and civil disobedience among it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 05:27:38 PM PDT

    •  please share how you would integrate newcomers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your point is well taken. I live in Honolulu and I want the OWS protests to succeed and grow.

      I have been there and done that as far as crowd events are concerned. Union movement too. yes sir.

      I am sure that there are protesters with experience, as you say. I can comment on the media: on the videos, I saw frontline participants getting carried away. The new people  need more experience. One could argue that they are getting that experience now, the hard way. Is there some other way to teach them?

      And I expect that if they are worth their salt, the organizers would certainly be analyzing what to do next. I think my main point though, would be to ask how others who join may be able to also grasp the nonviolent nature of OWS.  is there something that can be done to remind them of the better angels of our nature?

      getting fired up is certainly part of the process. we have enough to be angry about, without trumping up police brutality.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 05:55:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thought provoking (or should be) & good read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about what is essentially mindfulness.  

    Especially this:

    to be violent, or to respond to violence by getting carried away, to escalate, or even to espouse violence, is not the answer. it never is

    I have only been an OWS observer, so I can not presume to comment on how each group has been/or is handling themselves during confrontations & what their individual training needs are.

    However, my perception of the vids I have seen show restraint on their part (OWS bravehearts)-something to be commended.  Especially so, if the participants have never witnessed or truly imagined some of the brutal push back that has occurred.

    My biggest fear has been a nightmare redux of the 60's & I daresay it has been on the mind of others of that era as well.  Surely, you can understand that concern & the desire to bear witness to any perceived hint of brutality?  

    Speaking for myself, if being vigilant saves a life or prevents the use of brutality or violence or shines a light on brutality, violence or abuse, then it is not creating "revolution porn".  

    That being said, I do hope that those actively engaged receive any trainings & supports needed.  If they have not thus far, they are doing a remarkable job staying focused- all things considered.  

    Thich Nhat Hanh-any DVD or book (preferably DVD for groups).

    Peace Is Every Step is a good core start for "meditation in action"; deep looking & deep acting.

  •  I can't vote on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's not a black & white situation.

    Some of the cops DID overreact, some were wonderful.

    I know how upsetting it can be to be trapped, and no matter what anyone who just looks at a video thinks, they WERE trapped and unable to move and they were being pushed back by the riot police and horses. They were afraid.

    There were assholes there, most were peaceful, some were frightened, some were angry. I think that they handled themselves pretty well.  I am speaking of both cops and protesters.

    I was astounded by the way that things ended up and to be honest, they ended up in a good way.

    I think that's the piece that everyone is missing as y'all yell at each other hysterically over who what you think is hyperbole. It's not, o.k?

    We, cops and protesters ARE all on the same side here in New York and we KNOW that we are all on the same side ( least most of us do.).  We don't really need those of you who don't live here to explain it to us.

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

    by resa on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 07:29:10 PM PDT

    •  hi again - and i accept the comment that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you refer to as one of mine (since i used the word hyperbole frequently today).

      mine was an emotional response - especially at the comments being made about the horses.

      mine almost died two nites ago from a very bad colic.  he's okay now - but hearing the comments that horses were being used to "ram" people - the total misunderstanding of what people were viewing (the officer who "appears" to be driving his horse forward is ACTUALLY trying to stop his horse from running backwards and bolting) and more triggered a very raw nerve for me today.

      this diary better states what i tried to do in an emotional reaction.  i defer to a better translation of events and better explanation of what i was trying to say today - that exaggeration and misstatement harms this movement.

      we ARE all on the same side here - but hearing the constant drumbeat from a few on this side about the bad cops "enjoying" the confrontation also really disturbs me.

      this isn't an "us against them" - it is a movement questioning grave wrongs that are killing this nation's economy and this nation's soul.

      as a new yorker for many years - almost all of my adult life - i have tremendous respect for the nypd (most of them) and the job they are tasked to do - i lived in ny prior to the "sanitization" by bloomberg - and my city was much MUCH rougher than today's city.  i lived in ny when the bronx really WAS burning - you couldn't go north without counting the smokestacks from buildings that were being torched.  my block in manhattan was safe but 1/2 block further west was a no-man's land after dark.

      the daycare where i was head teacher for 9 months still had bullet holes in the walls from the man who tried to attack the owner and another teacher - she got her feet loose and ran for help dodging the bullets as she made it out the door.

      so i know ny - i know the cops and the firefighters - and i love the city.  i've seen the mounteds in action many times - both in working situations and in play.  the horses are almost all donated and highly schooled and well cared for.  they do crowd control well - but mostly are there for the tourists and locals to caress during the daylight hours.

      i object to the hysteria - and did some serious yelling today at that hysteria.  fortunately, this diary presents the exact same points i tried to make in the calm i should have had.  i let my anger supercede my criticism.  my bad and this diarist's good.

      Is GlowNZ back yet?

      by edrie on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 08:52:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hey Resa, I've been to Broadway, sweetheart! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        first off, @edrie - thank you for pointing out the points of equine training.

        now Resa - I have been to Broadway. what I know about NYC is that when they work out a new show, they go to New Haven and fine tune it, reading the reviews caefully before it gets to the Great White Way. somebody is always backstage listening to the applause lines. New Yorkers pride themselves on being street smart, honey, and they do care a lot about whether their marketing is going over in the hinterlands. For me, I can deal with the New York Attitude, more power to ya. telling it like it is, is what got New York where it is today. Jessie La Greca is now a hero of mine. You guys need to seek feedback, listen to it carefully, plan each move instead of just letting it happen, and you need to step up the game if you are going to expand this movement. eyes on the prize, sweetheart!

        there is another diary titled The Problem with A**holes which states this another way. The press still does not know what to make of this, and they will seize on any suggestion that it's a violent group. further, there are plenny trolls right here on DailyKos that seem to be entertaining moves which woudl escalate things. this would be very very bad.

        A lot of my life deals with chaotic situations, I  have been in lots of these crowd things as well, and the people on the ground do not always know what  happened even when they were right there.

        "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

        by guavaboy on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 10:08:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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