I'm not a huge fan of participating in protests for a lot of reasons, the main one being that yelling and chanting gets tiring and also doesn't seem to get a lot done. (And that just makes me more depressed about government - how do ordinary people start actual change? But holy cow, that is not a topic I intend to broach right now.) Having said that, if there is a huge protest nearly in my front yard, I should probably at least stop by to gawk.
I headed out yesterday a little after noon to the capitol, where there were many people milling about. I soon realized I was way overdressed compared to all the punks and hippies. (Hello, it was Labor Day! Last Day to wear my pearly white skirt!) I wandered a bit, but I was by myself and so I just headed over to my friend's condo and waited outside.
I soon realized we would be very close to the parade route, so my friend and I hung around to take pictures. This one is my favorite.
There's more pictures, but that's pretty much how it was...lots of people walking, carrying signs, sometimes chanting things. After a while, when we realized there was no end in sight to the protesters, we thought we would head towards the actual convention center. (Okay, my real ulterior motive? I was super determined to return my library book.) But every street we went down, we ran into these guys!
Somehow we managed to snake our way around the riot police to get to Rice Park - I was able to return my library book while my friend got a coffee. The delegates were lined up for over a block to get into River Center (surrounded by cages). I happened to be holding an anti-war sign (given to me by a protester), which invited a young Texan delegate to start talking to us. (Whose name I recognized later in this column - man, that dude gets around!) We (my friend, the Texan, and myself) got into some circular arguments: we agreed that war is bad and that maybe we don't have a true democracy, but what to do with all those trillions of dollars going to war? Surely not put the money towards health care, says the Texan! We didn't really get anywhere in changing anyone's minds, but I must say I was somewhat pleased to even have that conversation in the middle of the street.
[During this time, a friend was also calling me with reports on CNN about people breaking windows and other bad stuff. Honestly? If she hadn't called, I wouldn't have had a clue. That's why news reports are funny - you can be really damn close to the action and still miss everything.]
We started heading back home, but of course ran into barricades of riot police every direction we went. (Which is why I found this tale of a stroll through St. Paul so funny.) Make it home we did, after a while.
So yeah, there's my story. In conclusion, I can't help but think about how silly and cyclical this whole convention-protest-arrest thing is. Republicans (or democrats) convene, police get fired up and ready (almost in a way that says "I dare you to start something"), people show up and cause trouble, people get arrested, some people that shouldn't also get arrested, people get outraged, and the people who cause trouble will continue with their goal, which is to stop the republicans (or democrats) from convening.
In other news, helicopters. Lots and lots of helicopters. But life goes on for the rest of us.