Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yesterday, more reports of raids by the cops, arrests for blocking streets and rushing police officers, but also for simply moving too slowly. Someone apparently threw a rock through the window of a bus full of Republican delegates from Connecticut. Not sure how I feel about that. The papers here, so far, have been pretty good about maintaining the distinctions between the anarchist "elements" and the protesters engaging in permitted activities. The anarchists themselves are trying to promote this distinction--basically, everyone's doing a better job of it than the police.

The "March for Our Lives" took place yesterday, organized by the Poor People's Coalition for Economic Human Rights. The rally, like Monday's, boasted a wide ethnic diversity and age range, reflecting the sense that poverty is THE most important issue--that economic injustice is the umbrella under which the most social problems can be gathered. There was some troubling rhetorical conflict between the organizers and the anarchists: at one point in the rally, a bunch of people suddenly ran off to (I think) block one of the intersections next to the park. The main organizer urged everyone to stay focused on the stage--which I decided to do; I felt like the event, with its focused topic, deserved a concentration that would promote its theatrical presence. At the same time, the organizer's continued chiding rubbed me the wrong way. She accused the anarchist rush of being "a deliberately orchestrated distraction" from the attempt by poor people to make their voices heard. This seems like paranoia to me. There can be a debate over tactics, but the anarchists aren't obligated to stand there and listen to the speakers, and they've also decided not to criticize the techniques of pacifists. As often happens, the anger and condescension directed at anarchists made the organizers look bad. On the other hand, the point of another speaker--that the working class in the Twin Cities already sees violence and property destruction on a daily basis, and that a multiracial, pacifist action would be more of a shock to the police who assume a tendency toward violence on the part of people of color--made a lot of sense. It threw the techniques of the anarchists into the light of a question, rather than a moral condemnation. It's a question that seems entirely appropriate for anarchism: is a given action responding in the right way to the immediate specificity of a context?


It seems like, earlier in the day, the astonishing mob of police in riot gear have usually been pretty calm. It's as the afternoon goes on that they start splitting peaceful marches arbitrarily into smaller sections, detaining large groups of people for hours on single city blocks, raiding various spaces. Last night there were three attempted police actions at the Bedlam Theatre, where I'm performing every night--the first a response to an anonymous call asserting that the Bedlam was selling "more than beer and wine." Fortunately, the folks there run a very tight ship, ID'ing people rigorously, etc., so the officer who showed up was shown around the building to her satisfaction. When told that the theater was hosting evenings of political art in response to the RNC, she said "I'll try to come back for that. I'd be protesting if I didn't have this job." Later in the evening, a fleet of bicycle cops showed up, and an hour later seven or eight squad cars; neither found anything illegal going on, so they left. The sort of luck not found by the people at the RNC Welcoming Committee Convergence Center, who had their dangerous pamphlets and unspecified "weapons" confiscated.


At the Bedlam last night (after music by the Prince Myshkins David Rovics and Jim Page, and mock news by the WYXY News Team), Bryan Bevell gave a magnificent performance of Wallace Shawn's monologue The Fever. Bryan's acting was subdued, quiet, even with the gradually increasing noise from the bar outside the theater, and this mode of performance got the audience into a state of intense concentration. It's a fantastic piece, done here with admirable vulnerability. He'll do it again on Thursday. Tonight, more of the Myshkins with guests, WYXY, and the Nonsense Company performing "Great Hymn of Thanksgiving / Conversation Storm."





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