What a bunch of shit it is with the LAPD. It’s a whole new world out there on the streets of US cities for sure. To remember back to marches and protests ten years ago and think of cops charging a crowd of overwhelmingly peaceful folks in the street, and all the while firing tear gas, spraying “pepper spray” and shooting rubber bullets and bean shot, was unthinkable. But it now seems to be the order of the day. And in the months since Seattle, the primary media outlets have become completely desensitized to it.
Get this--last night my wife (Wendy) and I were leaving a Rage Against the Machine show outside the DNC (the cops had just pulled the plug on Ozomatli, the next band, and gave the 10,000 people contained within huge labrynthine 12-foot high fences) 15 minutes to leave -- good luck!. Me and Wendy had just gotten beyond the last high fence into a cattleshoot area that fed us off to a street when a huge line of riot cops who had been blocking one street -- to make us go down another-- broke ranks and through the slot they opened (it must have been at least 50) cops on horseback charged through with batons raised. Windy and I almost got trampled by all the other folks racing to get out of the way, but luckily were still near the fence and ran along there to avoid getting run over. We ran a block along with the 1,000 or so other people in that street. We stopped to catch our breath, as everyone else was doing for the moment, and turned to see that the riot cops had charged forward with the cops on horseback -- all of who were strung across the street 2 or 3 deep coming (now slowly) right at us.
As we all were looking at them, catching our breath, we saw flashes of light, explosions, and then (immediately) two people right next to us were on the ground screaming and everybody started running again. I turned to start running with Wendy so as not to get trampled, but when I turned, she was on the ground -- she’d got hit in the foot and knocked over by a hard projectile. I had to pick her up (a little 105-lb vegan sweetie who wouldn’t hurt a snail), throw her over my shoulders, and run with her.
The next time we got a moment to breathe, we were next to a guy who got hit with a rubber bullet in the face, just below the eye. The his face was bleeding and swelling up horribly as we sat -- eventually the whole side of his face swelled. There were quite a few others bleeding from rubber bullets, and we saw a guy who was hurt much worse than he knew (he was probably in shock) with a huge purple black and blue on his right leg from what must have been a bean bag. Luckily, Wendy was hit in the (fake) leather of her shoe. Although she had at first lost all feeling in her foot, the pleather saved her and she was soon able to walk with a limp.
Well, there’s much more to the story (the most shocking thing about it is the disinterest of the news in the LAPD taking policing to a whole new level--even for LA). Also, the cops have learned a lot since Seattle, namely how to shoot rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters, charge them on horses and beat them with batons WITHOUT significant media coverage. Before the Rage Against the Machine show last night, the cops managed a ruse to shut down the LA Independent Media Center, and disconnect their satellite link … pretty ruthlessly smart … more later …