Wednesday, August 06, 2008

nothing says “change” like 3,000 cops in riot gear

Just a little taste of what awaits me in Denver.

Last month, under pressure from the A.C.L.U. lawsuit, the city released a list of expenses related to the convention showing that the police were preparing for large demonstrations and mass arrests and that the department had spent $2.1 million on protection equipment for its officers, $1.4 million for barricades and $850,000 for supplies related to the arrest and processing of suspects.

In disclosing the cost breakdown, city officials denied rumors that had circulated for weeks that they had contemplated buying exotic nonlethal weapons that fired an immobilizing goo, or that used radiation or sonic waves to incapacitate people or vehicles.

As the article makes clear, all of this over-the-top preparation is to contain political protestors—not to protect against a terrorist attack—even though authorities admit that there is no credible threat of either terrorism or violent protest.

The federal government is also sending Denver an additional $50 million for security, and while I’m not so naïve as to think that no additional security is required, my experience in New York in 2004 (coupled with the stories I have heard about Boston) tells me that all this extra muscle will encourage authorities to err on the side of imagined security while actively suppressing the First Amendment rights of many protesters and passers-by.

Just imagine what some of that money and organization could do to feed, house, or clothe some of the Denver-area needy. . . . Just sayin’.

And now, a wag of my finger at the New York Times. The photo above, which ran with the story under the headline “Denver Police Brace for Convention,” is not actually a picture of the Denver Police, or any auxiliary that might be in Denver, for that matter. As the half-tone caption informed me (and I only noticed the caption because I wanted to reproduce the image for this post), this photograph, by Bob Bukaty of the AP, is actually from Boston, from the day before the Democratic Convention of 2004. Running this picture under a headline about Denver reminds me of nothing so much as an “artist’s interpretation”—like those you might see of aliens in the Weekly World News—and can only serve to alarm readers about the violence that supposedly awaits the Democrats this year in Denver. Violence, as the story will tell you, that is not indicated by any pre-convention intelligence.

(cross-posted on Daily Kos and The Seminal)

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