The Washington Post covered the protest march that took place in New York City on Sunday.
more than 200,000 protesters peacefully swarmed Manhattan's streets on the eve of the Republican National Convention to demand that President Bush be turned out of office.
Strange, but my experience of the protestors was that they were anything but peaceful.
This image, for instance, brought to you by the Black Bloc anarchist group, shows the beginning of an event that nearly caused a wide-spread riot in Herald Square.
From our vantage point, we couldn't see anything but the smoke from what turned out to be a paper-mache dragon that when burned started an assault by the anarchists. People began running in all directions. The NYPD quickly cordoned off the area and stopped the march by putting barracades on both sides of the affected area. The mounted police were brought in as were a number of officers on motorcycles and foot. The anarchists, dressed in black and red, were eventually brought under control and arrested.
What saved this from a complete and bloody riot was quick action by the NYPD.
And while the New York Daily News printed this picture on pg 2 of today's paper, it's not easy to find on their web site (try clicking on the photo gallery it may still be there. Update: here's another picture)
Generally, what the Protest Warriors found was more honestly expressed by this sign I snapped a picture of
When the 200+ strong contingent of Protest Warriors marched into action,
We were originally cordoned in an area perpendicular to the main body of the protest march.
This was fun because the vocal group attracted the somewhat confused attention of the anti-war protestors.
The signs often took some time for processing and often held up the protest as the far-left attempted to engage all brain cells to decipher the signs and determine if we were for or against their cause.
Some never got it and just moved on.
Some did get it (well, we helped them by chanting things like "Four More Years" and "John F-in' Kerry, No F-in' Way". They got that clue)
Prior to starting our march, we had assigned each Warrior to a tactical group and over time, each group split off to infiltrate the march. The rules were that upon infiltration. we would do nothing more provacative but carry our signs.
My group was Group Six lead by Tom Paladino. At first we were accepted as one of their own (but with much better signs).
Then they noticed us.
The massive crowd started chanting "Fascists, leave our march!". Then our way was blocked by a number of individuals who linked arms and stood in our way. We were then physically assaulted. Two of our group of 15 were punched, their signs were taken from them and destroyed. Tom's megaphone (which he only use after we were attacked to try to calm people) was taken from him and destroyed.
I truly thought I was going to die.
The NYPD ran in to protect us. We identified the individuals who assaulted us who ran like cowards. I'm not sure if the police got them or not.
The crowd was now chanting "Fascist Police".
Things were getting very dangerous.
The NYPD asked us to leave the march and we complied not only for our safety but for theirs. Had we stayed, these guys would have tried to protect us and likely would have otten hurt as well.
Not to mention the whole out-of-control riot thing.
We left and regrouped in Herald Square with the other tactical teams who had met with pretty much the same response; in some cases without such a quick police response as we got.
Soon after we witnessed the anarchists move described above.
Once this was cleared up, we lined up our signs along the barracades and did our own chanting. One of our members was physically attacked with a broom stick by a man who managed to get it into the march. He was quickly arrested by the NYPD.
So while the march may been "peaceful" this was only because of the terriffic efforts by the NYPD. Had they not have been as prepared and well trained as they were, it would have been a disaster.
But don't let anyone tell you these people are for peace or Free Speech.
It's just not true.
Another Update: Citizen Smash recounts Protest Warrior encounters in San Diego's Balboa Park