Watching both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, it is heartening to see that both (over-hyped) icons of American democracy are peacefully progressing, relatively free of mob violence.
Kudos have to be given to the police departments of Denver and Minneapolis, supporting law enforcement agencies and Mayors John Hickenlooper (Denver) and Mayor R.T. Rybak (Minneapolis); both Democrats.
The actions of Rybak serve as a particular lesson in civics as he was a super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention. But setting partisanship aside and putting “Country First” as the slogan goes, he was one of the first on the air to defend the First Amendment rights of Republican delegates visiting his city.
So far police have arrested nearly 300 people outside the convention after mobs set fire to a dumpster, broke shop windows and punctured car tires.Oregon Anarchists, who were the ones primarily responsible for instigating the Seattle WTO riots in 1999, had reportedly hoped to recreate the same spectacle in the Twin Cities.
Over the past couple days, police executed search warrants in several Minneapolis houses, used as staging areas by the Anarchists, and recovered metal pipes, axes, material for making Molotov cocktails, caltrops, “wrist rockets” and several buckets of human waste which, according to reports, were intended for use to disrupt the convention, block streets and aid in the takeover of nearby government buildings.
Civilian and law enforcement authorities in Denver and Minneapolis have been putting action plans together for months in order to thwart groups hoping to “Recreate 68”. By being proactive and removing bomb-throwers whose only goal is to spread chaos, they’ve protected the freedom for thousands of Republicans and Democrats to lawfully assemble and engage in political free speech. The efforts have also preserved rights for the dozens of peaceful protestors assembled to wave signs and picket in both cities.
The lessons learned here obviously come from the mistakes which plagued the City of Seattle during the WTO Riot of 1999.
There has been a myth perpetrated that it was the presence of police which sparked the mob violence on “N30” – and also the subsequent Mardi Gras Riot, which saw the murder of Kris Kime who was physically beat to death within eyeshot of Police Chief Gil Kerlikowski, ensconced at the “Sinking Ship” parking garage.
In both instances it was the lack police intervention, until it was too late, that created the environment for a handful of thugs to run amuck.
Winds of Change: A few beads need to be thrown towards rookie Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, who competently oversaw the largest evacuation in American history and whose actions are a stark contrast to the incompetence displayed by his predecessor.
Regarded as a rising star in his party and a potential VP candidate for John McCain, Jindal has four years to overcome the century of cronyism in the Bayou state still plaguing Katrina relief efforts.