The Philadelphia Inquirer has made public a police document that asserts that RNC demonstrators will race-bait officers -- the same charge that a senior white Washington, DC police commander used to incite DC metro police during the A16 demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank this spring. The document, "RNC Information for Officers," was posted at Philadelphia police districts last week.
Activists charge that police bosses use this strategy to prejudice their own officers -- particularly African American officers posted to the barricades -- against demonstrators.
"I worked the barricades as a medic for three days straight during A16," says Dick Reilly of Chicago, "And I never saw a protester use racial or ethnic slurs against officers. Instead, I saw peaceful protesters reach out to police to talk to them in human terms about why they were protesting. And I also often saw police attack protesters with incredible -- and unprovoked -- brutality. Small wonder, considering that their own white deputy commander, Terry Gainer, was trying to incite hostility against protesters."
The Philly police handout seems designed to provoke police against protesters on both racial and political grounds. According to the Philadelphia police department Training Bureau document, "Professional agitators are going to be here from around the world and their goal is to make you do the wrong thing, especially involving the use of force. They will harass and curse at you, criticize your race, sex, height, ancestry, and anything else to make you lose your temper. Remember, they are very good at this tactic! Maintain a calm and professional demeanor."
The Philly police document has raised concerns about possible police behavior during the RNC.
"Unfortunately, these police strategies set up tensions between protesters and police -- not just racial tensions, but tensions that suggests the protesters will be trying to break down police moral and demean them as people," says Skylar Fein of Training for Change. Fein