When Did Dissent Become a Crime? America’s Police State on Steroids at the Conventions
Alter Net — In cities hosting large gatherings such as the national political conventions or international summits, we’ve come to expect a massive militarized police presence, even as the ranks of protesters thin. But what happens to all of the new high-tech cop toys and newly passed ordinances once conventioneers leave town? They stay.
I was at the alternative journalist flophouse in Charlotte on Sept. 4, the first day of the Democratic National Convention, when I received word of kettled protesters a few blocks away. I had just met FireDogLake reporter Kevin Gosztola, and after forming a mutual admiration society, we raced outside.
We hoofed past siren-flashing police cars blocking side streets, hiking alongside an empty roadway. Walls of blue loomed ahead. Our hands went to our sides and drew cameras. As we neared a broad intersection, protesters appeared behind a double line of police using bicycles as barricades. The entire intersection was encircled by hundreds of ground troops, motorcycle cops, commanders, surveillance units and vehicles. Media flitted along the perimeter and uncertainty coursed through observers. Why had hundreds of police barricaded the protesters, were they going to sweep them up, would violence break out?