Berkeley nostalgia

Not in Berkeley, but in Denver, where Zombie documents a scene numbingly reminiscent of what I used to sit through when I was a Berkeley Police Review Commissioner:

I personally witnessed the entire incident, from the beginning to the end, and can say without reservation that the Rocky Mountain News video is intentionally deceptive, and crafted to make the protester (Alicia Forrest) appear to be a victim of needless police brutality. I have photographic and video proof, shown below, that Alicia Forrest "asked for it" in the sense that she disobeyed police commands to stay back and also taunted the police; and that she was not seriously injured by Officer Stewart; and that the Rocky Mountain News in particular committed an act of media malfeasance by purposely posting on their site a deceptive video that left out all the context surrounding the incident. Furthermore, many blogs jumped on the story and trumpeted it as evidence of police misbehavior, when in fact there was no misbehavior at all.
Read it all, and look at the pictures.

All I can say is that these protesters are professional people, and they have been carefully trained. They excel at doing everything they can to provoke the police into overreacting, but of course the police are well trained not to overreact. What this means is that even when the police merely do their job (and make an arrest, as they did in this case), the demonstrators are ready to pounce. They will claim police brutality, and they will pursue unfounded claims against the police. It is all part and parcel of their strategy, and as I learned when I sat on the Police Review Commission, at the core of the strategy is to intimidate the people charged (as I was) with reviewing the conduct of the police. (Hence my creepy feeling of nostalgia when I read Zombie's account.)

The Denver incident reminded me of what I described in this post:

According to this mindset, the very idea behind Berkeley's Police Review Commission -- citizen review, a remedy against police abuse, etc. -- was bogus, and we were (and were seen as) stooges legitimizing violent state power and private property.

No one warned me in advance, so it was quite a shock to encounter these people on a regular basis. I was called a "traitor" and a murderer, and my home address (along with those of other commissioners) was printed and distributed on leaflets telling people to "take whatever action" was necessary.

As to the two opposing "sides" (the Marxists and the McGovern Democrats), we were all on the same side when the crowds grew violent, because we were all "the enemy."

I think an example is needed here, lest crucial irony of this situation be lost. Bear in mind that our primary function was to sit in judgment on the conduct of the police. The Chief of Police, the officer who headed Internal Affairs, and their legal representatives were normally present at out meetings, and of course the individual officers who were the subject of complaints had to attend individual board hearings with their legal reps. On several of these riotous occasions (where the demonstrators were out in force because the BPD had dared to arrest some of the activists for violent activities), things grew so dangerous that the Chief had to order all officers to leave (along with himself) -- "for reasons of officer safety."

One such evening wasn't long after a "demonstrator" had thrown a brick which broke the jaw of an officer who was in the hospital. I vividly remember one of the professional activists (a leader of an anarchist group called "Copwatch") coming up to the Chief, and saying (in a tone affecting much sincerity), "I am sorry about the officer whose jaw was broken." A bit surprised, the Chief began to thank him sincerely, but was immediately interrupted by the activist screaming, "SORRY HE DIDN'T DIE!"

There's a lot more, but my point is simply that these activists are professionals, and they know exactly what they are doing.

Read Zombie's whole post and look at the photographs to learn more.

I don't recommend sitting on a citizen's police review commission, though. It really did a number on me, and in all honesty, it was one of those life-changing situations. I realized that most people think life is too short, so they go along with the intimidation. The problem with that approach is that it can lead to a life spent being afraid to ever speak up, and if we all did that, we would cease to be a free people.

Precisely what the professional activists want.

This touches on a major reason I blog. My thanks to Zombie for the reminder.

MORE: Anyone who doubts that Alicia Forrest is a professional (who is well-versed in deceptive techniques) should read Medea Benjamin's bragging account about how she disrupted a McCain event in disguise:

Three CODEPINKers, dressed like businesspeople (no pink!) and sporting McCain campaign buttons, got inside the ballroom in time for a lovely breakfast. When McCain starting speaking to the business association, Gael Murphy cried out, "War is bad for small business! Attacking Iran will only make things worse! We are spending 5,000 dollars per second, 12 billion dollars per month! Imagine the investments in small business we could make with that money instead of killing people and illegally occupying other countries."

Soon after Murphy was "escorted" out of the room, it was Alicia Forrest's turn. McCain insisted he was going to help grow the economy, so Alicia yelled out, "Mr. McCain, how do you expect to do that with 100 years of war?" She hung on tight to the doors as they pulled her out, shouting "No War! No McCain!" This was covered in boos from the McCain supporters, but still the point was made.

Oh yes. I'm sure countless McCain supporters were persuaded.

posted by Eric on 09.01.08 at 11:36 AM


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