I was at New Orleans City hall today after the tasering and pepper spraying of the crowd occurred. I was not there at the moment when the protesters were tasered and sprayed with pepper spray. I did talk with people who did, including a T.V. news cameraman, who told me he didn't see any reason why those who were tasered, should have been tasered. I did see one of the people tasered, she was not physically what you would have expected. When such excessive force is used, your mind kinda has an image in it of how big and even violent the person was that would cause a police officer to use such radical measures such as electrocuting someone. This young woman did not fit any pre-conceived images I may have had, she was small, "waif" like.
The police had shut off access to Poydras Street from the Highway. I got off at Tulane and Claiborne and walked down. An atmosphere of tension and the need for vigilance against an unknown 'fear' was being created in the area through the actions and posture(s) the force was taking on the surrounding streets.
The streets in front of city hall Tulane by Poydras, Perdido, etc., was shut down for several blocks.
The numbers of Police Officers on foot, horse, and in cars, was astounding.
So much so, the sentence itself, is getting it's own line. In my opinion, there was no need for such a show of "force".
Even "after" the fact, when I arrived, there were way to many police officers. Their show of force reminded me, as I viewed them from the highway and other vantage points - was of an army like positioning in preparation of some sort of "domestic terrorist incident".
This is all connected... Dissent is becoming politicized in a whole new way folks. Soon political 'dissent',and ''activists', and 'protesters' are going to be labeled and worse even, be treated as potential terrorists. Many will be shocked to see excessive force being used upon US citizens for exercising their free speech rights in the time honoured AMERICAN tradition of protesting tyranny and standing up for the dignity and rights of all Americans. There is a new genre of "terrorist" that this administration is getting ready to "fight a war on" and they are going to be labeled "domestic terrorists" and the government is going to get to decide "who is" and "who isn't" a homegrown domestic terrorist.
One more thing. There is some truth to what people are saying about some of the protesters and activists who are not residents and have come to help, many who have been in New Orleans for some time helping in the rebuilding process. I have encountered far too many who, in their relative youth and vigor - tend to come off as belligerent - aloof. A kinda of insolence. I believe that they are very passionate and dedicated to what they are doing and really believe the causes they stand for. At the same time, there is a way where many I have met, come across as clique-ish and a kinda of grunge snobby. Coming across in this way, especially in the South, doesn't bode well when interacting with the police who are already in a position to believe they are "dangerous" activists and protesters from 'out of town'. Nor does "attitude" excuse the NOPD police actions against those inside and outside of city hall.
Love is not love, When it is mingled with regards that stand aloof from the entire point.
I mention the part about my fellow activists because I really believe in a form of protesting that follows the ways of Martin Luther King, Jr, Ghandi, Jesus, the Buddha and others who have fought for the dignity and rights of others. To me, there seemed that there was love and kindness amongst each other as well as for those they were exerting their hearts and efforts towards.
Human rights rest on human dignity.
The dignity of man is an ideal worth fighting for and worth dying for.
There was in my opinion 1. an over dramatizing on the side of the police officers of the "fear" factor in response to a small group of protesters in this situation with the protesters; 2: excessive action take, 3: an excessive amount of police officers.
In regards to the level of emotionality? Remember - the people who are involved in this issue are losing their homes - all 4500 all at the same time! Whilst 12 thousand are homeless and thousands are displaced. There are empty buildings all around the homeless and they are tearing down some very viable buildings such as the Lafitte (look at photo's in following postings). These are the same people who had to leave EVERYTHING BEHIND, who ended up in places like the Super Dome and then bused away who were never allowed to return to their homes even though all had legal leases. And all of this is happening at Christmas. When many people are already depressed and missing "home". Also, a favorite time for policy or news dumping for this administration. This is a traumatizing time, emotionally and psychologically, for those who are homeless and displaced only 2 years from out form the greatest national disaster this country has ever experienced.
UPDATE: 10 P.M. WGNO newscast:
Lead in story some interesting quotes from the news reader: once again spreading the propaganda that "activists and protesters" are dangerous and potential terrorists:
"The police officers sat high upon their horses ready for a riot".
"Another 'crop' of protesters showed up..."
"The police kept city council members houses safe." (Insinuation, insinuation).