Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Protests aren't what they used to be

Convention Cities get ready for protests

The cities hosting the Democratic and Republican conventions also will inevitably host thousands of protesters — and those visitors have already taken Denver and St. Paul to court.
Both cities have been sued by the ACLU and protest groups planning to mobilize at the political confabs. At issue: where and when demonstrations and marches can be held.
In St. Paul, the city and protest groups are due in court Wednesday to settle the route of an anti-war march scheduled for Labor Day, Sept. 1, the first day of the Republican convention.
Protest groups want to march all the way around the Xcel Energy Center, the convention site. City officials say that route would interfere with evacuation routes from the convention hall and could help protesters who want to block GOP delegates' access to the center. The protesters, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, say the city's route, which calls for the march to pass in front of the convention hall and then double back along a main road, could cause trouble. "It's a dead end," says Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, and could cause "logjams or the possibility of a … riot in a confined space."
St. Paul officials say they're actually being more accommodating than previous host cities.

Right now there is an institutionalized protest industry. They are "inside the box" thinkers, and are in general doing quite well for themselves. This ultimately means that they won't be effective. If you plan protests so that there's no real damage to your reputation or your future prospects, then guess what? You also don't do any damage to the target of the protest. The people who are so "outraged" over various issues might want to think if they are really serious about change. Perhaps they just want a different kind of vacation.

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