UPDATE: Apparently, I spoke too soon: Police and Protesters Clash Downtown. Here’s an article from a different source. Click through for pictures and vid.
Can’t we have both?
So, I lied about hiding inside this weekend. One of the first things I did today was head downtown to see what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t help myself. My camera in hand, I got footage of the entire march.
I was glad to see so many people having courage in their convictions, like the Veterans for Peace, and I can’t help but root for the disgruntled academics – I’m kinda one of them – who got their degrees and still face a future of burger-flipping, contrary to what they were told growing up.
I did not, however, come away inspired and/or energized. The loudest rhetoric was the most absurd, as is usually the case. That’s the problem with megaphones: the only people who use them are people you don’t want to hear, which is why they need the megaphones in the first place.
Having never been to a demonstration of that magnitude before, maybe I was expecting too much because my experience left me unimpressed; unimpressed with NATO, with the conference organizers, with the protesters and with their detractors, and now my lack of faith in the system, all systems, seems justified. Does this mean I’ve become an anarchist? No, that can’t be right. If anything, it’s the seeming chaos of the system that I find so defeating; it’s surreal to see Michelle Obama leading international delegates on a private tour through the Art Institute on one side of Michigan Avenue, while on the other there are thousands of people screaming about ending war, demanding reforms to our education system, our social security system, our foreign policy, our legal system, etc. It sounds like everything that can be broken is broken.
I learned a lot about giant protests today, though. I now understand how things can get out of control so fast. The police presence was unnerving to this little girl from Iowa: huge lines of uniformed officers, some with their batons already out (why?), and they were rigid on where people could and could not go; the barricades made me feel like a caged animal, and I wasn’t even participating in the protest. Additionally, every Chicago cop is working on 12-hr shifts; no one gets a sick day today. Every single one of them looked like they’d rather be anywhere else in the world. Couple that with a kid on a skateboard in a clown wig riding up to random cops and hassling them about… about being cops, I guess, I didn’t really catch his point – people, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Keep safe, everyone. Raw video of the march coming soon.
P.S. Dude. I just saw the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile cruise down the street. What a magical day.