Politics & Media
Sep 04, 2008, 06:07AM

From The Front Lines

One youth journalist braved the streets of St. Paul to get an eye witness account of protesters and the police response. There were surprises, excitement, a few disturbingly out of context lines from action movies, and in the end a vague sense that whatever was supposed to happen wasn't quite realized.

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Photo by Jon Collins, Minnesota Daily

Right as I was walking past, a pack of vans filled with riot cops came streaming out, taking hard left turns and speeding off into the night -- lights shining, sirens blaring. I wasn't really sure what to do; mostly, I just stood there and gaped. By this point in the evening, this was not an uncommon sight.

One cop in full riot gear was out directing the vans as they exited the alley. Before he turned back down the street, I looked up at him. "What is going on?"

He glanced back. "All kinds of stuff, man."


This was by no means a "youth protests"; clearly, everything is coordinated by people who have been doing this for a long time. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, but the fact that turnout was much lower than many protesters had hoped (some estimates expected up to 50,000) shows that the younger citizens never fully mobilized here in Minnesota. 

You'll notice that pretty much every major news story makes repeated references to "anarchists" whenever there's violence mentioned; now, I'm not here to condone violence, obviously. But to neatly separate the demonstrators into "anarchist" and "peaceful" seems to miss the larger point here.

Tactics differed, but by and large the goals were the same. Some resorted to violence (although that violence uniformly consisted of relatively minor property damage), but those who stayed peaceful were asking for the same things: the end of the war, more spending on education and social programs, restoration of civil liberties, the end of the use of torture, and so on.


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