Live from DNC: Eyewitness to Mayhem (Day 2)
What to do if you have an unhinged radio host screaming in your face.
August 26, 2008 - 12:39 pm
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.
Normally, a bus into downtown is not a bad choice at all; there is a bus stop within a block of my place, and the Denver-Boulder B bus will put you right at Union Station or the Market Street Station, from which you can pick up the free mall bus. Cost is about $3 — less than gas — and given the cost and effort of finding parking downtown, even on a normal day it is probably about as fast. You might think, after my piece on trains, that I’m against public transportation. I’m not. I’m just against public transportation when it’s stupid.
During the convention, it’s tending toward stupid. Driving in is probably also stupid. Frankly, the whole convention is stupid. I’m tired of it. Go home, Democrats.
Oh, wait, I’m getting a gig out of it. Never mind.
So I got to the Mint at about 4:30PM, to find a dozen mounted police, a half dozen other media people, and no protestors. The reason for the Mint was that the “Recreate ’68″ people promised to recreate the famous levitation of the Pentagon, of song and story, and — well, actually nearly unremembered except by a few 60′s throwbacks. The story was that Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies (not “yuppies”) were trying to levitate the Pentagon as an anti-war protest. It didn’t work, and I don’t know that anyone ever quite explained why levitating the Pentagon would be an anti-war protest particularly, but in those drug addled days it did seem like a cool idea.
(Sigh. I remember when spending $100 on drugs meant you were planning a party, instead of a bottle of Vitorin and some laxatives.)
Still, I thought it would be amusing one way or the other, and certainly if they did manage to levitate the Mint, it would be something I’d be sorry I missed.
I’d been there for a little while, long enough to text out my proposed lede (“What if they held a levitation and nobody came?”) when down the street comes Michelle Malkin along with one of the various bloggers who are here. (Sorry, guy, in the ensuing excitement I never did quite figure out who was who.) I greeted them, we had a pleasant conversation — we don’t agree on some things, but Michelle is very sweet, and rather prettier in person than she seems on TV. Which is rather astounding when you think about it.
Finally about 5:10 the demonstration arrived. There were still more media than demonstrators; in general the demonstrations seem to have about two cops per demonstrator and three media per cop.
All I can say is these street theatre demonstrations were more fun when Abbie and Allen Ginsberg were still alive. A couple of amusing costumes and some “Peace and Love” chanting. Michelle and I went over to see them more closely and get some pictures, and the PJM/Founding Bloggers video guys came along as well.
All was good and we were having a good time, until our male antagonist spotted Michelle. He shouted her name, and ran over with his little mob of lickspittles and sycophants, along with his video guy. You can see the video here.
After they surrounded Michelle and the shouts of “kill Michelle Malkin” started, it looked like it would be desirable to intervene, so I moved between them. Miss Alex didn’t like it. He shouted at me; when that wasn’t fun, he shoulder butted me and screamed at me to keep my hands off him. When we moved away, he blindsided me with what felt like an elbow across the kidneys. If you watch the video, you’ll see that throughout, his camera guy was more or less up in my face. He’s apparently no more competent than his patrón, since he was so in my face all he got was a good chunk of excellent footage of my grey whiskers. At one point I got separated from Michelle — luckily, Jim Hoft was also playing volunteer bodyguard — so I went to a policeman on foot, told him about getting hit, and asked him to do something to protect Michelle, who at this point was surrounded by a screaming mob, being incited by girlyman.
He smirked at me and asked if we needed an ambulance.
We did get Michelle away, and no one was hurt. I’ve got a call in to Hickenlooper’s office, with the question being whether we think it’s good police procedure to watch a mob threaten to kill a 95-pound Asian woman without intervening. I’m still awaiting a response.
I do want to make one thing very clear: the Peace, Love and Levitation guys were not the ones threatening Michelle. In fact, a tall Asian guy who looked a lot like Kitaro was up trying to calm Alex as well.
* * *
This just on on Ask Charlie Anything.
Mike, here in Denver, asks: “Just how much has your opinion of Alex Jones gone down? Does he wear a brown shirt? Was the foam from his mouth difficult to clean up afterwards?”
Well, since I had never heard of Alex before — I doubt he’s very widely known, frankly — it started low and continued lower. Just another black helicopter nut, I guess. He wasn’t wearing a brown shirt, except in spirit. And Michelle did express a wish to shower afterwards.