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Live from DNC: Eyewitness to Mayhem (Day 2)

What to do if you have an unhinged radio host screaming in your face.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

August 26, 2008 - 12:39 pm
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Read Day 1 of Charlie’s diary here.

8/26 1:10 PM

A quick update on Hickenlooper: no response yet, since my original call at 9AM, and about an hour since my second call. Will continue to update. (I’m filing at 1305; nothing so far.)

So, on to the “riot”. We were back in PJM Central — which turns out to be exactly 0.00 miles from where my mother lived through most of my childhood; when I say I’m a local, I’m not joking — when we got a call from one of Robert Stacy McCain’s contacts back at the Sheraton, where I’d gone with Steve Green to have a drink following the Mint dustup. (The other McCain is amazing. Somehow he managed to make enough of an impression on a woman there in the bar that she called him with a tip. How does he do that?) Anyway, there was something happening down at the Sheraton, so Jim Hoft and I headed back out — “ride to the sound of the guns” — to see. Sure enough, there were about 50 riot police in full gear, including gas masks, lined up to close Tremont at 16th street. There were probably 100 civilians lined up watching them. There were two cute young things in sort of Gypsy costumes with a drum, so I asked them what was up; they told me that they’d been demonstrating over near the Civic Center when the police had started pushing them down 16th Street (which is a pedestrian mall there.) They’d gotten separated from their demonstration and they seemed kind of lost and at loose ends. Poor kids.

The thing was, we couldn’t find anything much to get excited about. That’s when I phoned in that it was “the world’s most boring riot.” So we kept looking, until we found the actual crowd a ways further down the street.

From this crowd I learned something interesting: anarchists don’t organize well. Several people were trying to start a chant — options offered included “we are not in a military state” and “who do you protect, who do you serve?”, which I rather liked. I tried to start “And who does the Grail serve?” but got no traction. The thing was that none of the chants lasted any length of time, as every anarchist had their own opinion about why they were demonstrating. (In fact, I took a little survey and in no case could I find any two demonstrators in a row who thought they were demonstrating about the same thing. This included obvious couples; one of the couple, in fact, got into an argument over why they were demonstrating, at which point I felt it was time to move on.)

The one exception was a mixed gropup of a half dozen or so shouting “Free Remi”. I thought at first they were shouting “Free Rumi”, which struck me as a nice surrealist touch, but it turned out that Remi was their friend who’d been arrested about a half hour earlier.

So, back to PJM Central and pizza.

8/26 11:10 AM

Okay, so I’m finally up and going. My back and my feet are killing me, not because of girly-man Alex Jones’ cheap shot, but because I was on my feet for most of the day, ending up with a four-mile walk home after midnight because the “public transportation system” is overwhelmed with transporting conventioners. But let’s tell this story in order.

After posting my q&a’s yesterday, I did a couple of essential errands (like buying cat food) and headed back down into Denver. Because the traffic was impossible when I was in town earlier, I took the bus.

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