Fair Coverage of RNC Protest Tactics

Considering it’s generally more liberal than radical, Salon has a surprisingly fair look at the protest organizing going on NYC in anticipation of the RNC. It reports an expectation of 250,000 protestors in the city — I hope that turns out to be true.

Rather than dismissing or chiding protestors who will engage in direct action, reporter Michelle Goldberg gives many different activists their fair say. In fact, at least to my eyes, she makes the “protest violence will only re-elect Bush” side sound stupidly reactionary.

She notes that much of the protesters’ anger is instigated by the city’s antagonistic stance of intolerance towards any form of protest and unwillingness to even grant permits for staid permitted rallies. Civil disobedience will likely be sparked in people who are pissed about being prevented from holding permitted rallies, and thus feeling deprived of a reasonable right to free speech.

I learned quite a bit reading this article. An especially interesting bit is the
RNCNotWelcome hotline where pissed off New Yorkers, especially ones working in the service industry, have been phoning in tips about the RNC’s unpuplicized events.

Still, with all the disclosure in this piece, I reckon (and hope) not everything in the protest toolkit has been revealed:

And what, exactly, will they be dealing with? Moran bristles when asked for specifics about the kind of actions New York is likely to see. “There’s such an over-concentration on that question,” he says, irritably. “It’s really problematic. I don’t want to be predictive.”

Part of this is simple evasion. But Moran really doesn’t know what people are going to do with his group’s information. Indeed, not knowing is inherent in his anarchist model, which relies on decentralized cells or “affinity groups” of five to 20 people who dream up and carry out autonomous actions. When larger numbers are called for, affinity groups temporarily team up, forming larger units called “clusters,” and then disband when the deed is done.