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a22: bush protest

Children at protests

Why bring a child to a protest?
Yes, why bring a child to a protest?

There has been plenty of talk here about the unfortunate children who were peppersprayed, roughed up in the push backs, etc., etc. And while it's easy to say "the police started it" -- which is, in ways, no doubt true -- it was entirely predictable.

Children have no political opinions. They are dragged-along bystanders, dragged along to an event where the possibility of chaos was quite clear. So why bring them? Or, perhaps more accurately, why bring them into the vortex of the where chaos is all the more likely? Why not stand on the far edges of the crowd with your child, holding a sign and staying out of the way?

Yeah, "who's streets, our streets." Whatever. A parent's responsibility for the safety of their children is far more real and important than quibbles about who started what and where you can stand at any given hour.

As a side note, I saw no peppersprayed children first hand, and only a small number of children in the active protest zones.

Opinions?

opinion #1 24.Aug.2002 23:07

poster #1

Children are the #1 reason why many of us are fighting for positive change in the world. We want them to grow up in better place than the one we have now.

We also want to teach them what's right and wrong (and how to figure out for themselves what those things are) and we want them to see what is beautiful in life.

Free speech is beautiful.

Liberty is beautiful.

Coming together in common cause is beautiful.

A22 in Portland was all those things and it was beautiful too. That's why children belonged there. Children need to know and feel the beauty of resistance, so that they too will resist. They will be carrying on the struggle against fascism if fascism doesn't kill us all first. And if our work ends up working, then they can look back on these days and be thankful that resistance is no longer necessary.

The pepperspraying pigs in Portland (and pigs is what they are when they pepperspray peaceful people in the face) were the ones who didn't belong at the protest. You got it all backwards. But that's okay -- our culture teaches us everything upside down and wrong, and it can take a while (and be confusing ) while you right side yourself back up.

Next ...

protests too unpredictable to bring children 24.Aug.2002 23:21

a mom

I personally, as a mom, do not feel that a protest is a safe place for a child. I actually cringed a few times when I saw children, especially babies, at the protest on Thursday.

Ideally, children, as well as all age groups should be allowed to attend rallies, but there is so much unpredictable energy (and we are not living in idyllic times) that I simply would not risk the well-being of my child. not at all.

Attacking Children Shows Some Cops' Sadism 24.Aug.2002 23:28

Varro

Would your opinion be different if a parent took their children to a political rally or to the polls when they voted? My parents always took me to the polls, even though I wouldn't be eligible to vote for 10-15 years...

I think the presence of children at the protest showed the mentality of the police; they have turned into an army of hired goons who believe themselves above the law. Another poster told the story of his children being *directly* pepper-sprayed by police. In addition, obvious non-protesters, such as KPTV photographer Beth English and other journalists (KXL, KBOO, KATU) were targeted by the police.

I sincerely believe some officers were there to get their jollies by hurting someone, whether with their baton, pepper spray, or rubber bullets. They think people won't believe it when word gets out that the police targeted "children" or "journalists"....after all, the protesters are all a bunch of scruffy anarchists who need a good ass-kicking!

The KPTV footage puts a lie to that. The police are clearly shown pepper-spraying people who are NOT advancing on the police, throwing objects, or threatening fundraiser attendees. One officer DIRECTLY sprays the KPTV camera operator for a good five seconds.

There needs to be some serious restructuring of the Portland Police. To start, Chief Kroeker and Assistant Chief Greg Clark (incident commander for the police riot) must be fired. Clark for the riot itself; Kroeker for a lack of institutional control, as there have been several egregious incidents under his watch.

In addition, an independent commission should review the incidents, and any officers found to have been responsible for spraying or shooting peaceful protesters should be dismissed and charged with assault, official oppression, and Federal civil rights violations. (This is in addition to the plethora of civil suits to be filed against the Cities of Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, and Tualatin, and individual officers who can be identified.)

why kids? 24.Aug.2002 23:29

mom

So I can't go out and speak my mind? I have to stay home or go to the park? Well, I'm a citizen as is my child and I believe that I'm teaching him valuable values when he sees people out on the streets filled with spirit and righteous outrage. This won't be the kid who stands by and watches a bully work--in fact, he'll know that his world is filled with people who know that bullies aren't just a painful fact of life. I can't think of a more valuable lesson that how NOT to be a "good German."

The children who were pepper-sprayed were at the end of the crowd so I think you'll need to think harder to find ways to blame those victims.

Parents can't be active citizens? 25.Aug.2002 06:05

copymark copymark@richmond.com

What a great way to intimidate citizens who get too uppity.

Just target their children and that'll really terrorize those commie punks for sure.

What a bunch of fascist goons the Portland police has made themselves out to be.

Bastards.

Richmond, VA

impressionable kids..... 25.Aug.2002 07:05

willie

....the initial post says, "kids have no political opinions". if you know anything about child development and child psych, you may have a little more insight into what a child's precious little noodle is capable of gripping and processing. i work in a locked down residential facility for kids, so i have some wonderful examples within arm's reach of post-traumatic-stress suffering 7-14 year-olds. it ain't pretty. kids are like sponges, they get their self-esteem, beliefs, etc from the adults they interact with and who are trusted with their health and safety. does a ten year old have a mature concept of the evils of corporately-financed politics? i doubt it, much the same that a 10 year old (or younger) dressed in kkk hood & robe really has of the depths of racism. sorry dad, but there are infinitely more positive ways to teach a child about morally and socially just politics and actions than to place them in front of a riot cop surrounded by screaming activists, especially with the "little beruit" label that p-town has earned. ....a parent's choice, but one that hopefully is an experience that does more good than harm in the big picture.
-willie

I've worked with chidren many years 25.Aug.2002 08:19

preschool teacher

Going to protests are things that can shape childrens' lives in a powerful way - I'm an activist today because of my mother's committment to activism when I was a child. Children who are allowed to come to their parent's activites share a deep connection to their parents that they might not otherwise have staying at home all the time with the babysitter.

From what I heard the protestors tried to organize safer zones - it appears this doesn't work if the police break things up in manageable groups on their own, and people are left to figure out for themselves.

But c'omon - no one truely understands these things until they are *in* them, and every protest is different. I had the same attitude when I protested in Ottawa against the G8, which is historically very aggressive - I wanted to stay in the back and not get in trouble because I didn't live there and I couldn't come back for court dates. And the protest ended up being almost entirely peaceful (despite every single person wearing protective gear, even camera people wearing gas masks) - why? Because orders came down from above to not create a scene. Canada's leader didn't want big media on the protests while he was hosting the G8. Simple as that.

The *leaders* decide how these things will go and THEY are the ones to hold accountable - NOT parents who have a right to take their children anywhere they want.

Also, since mainstream press often doesn't cover the police brutality, we can't expect *every* citizen to have an understanding of it. What if this were a visitng couple from Florida? Or Alaska? and just wanted to see what was going on?

We are a society with structured rules to protect the public - the police broke the rules and now the rules need to get re-examined and the police need to be re-evaluated. In Seattle people got 30k each and apologies from the mayor from what you guys went through. Just stay strong!

pro-kid 25.Aug.2002 09:51

lucy parsons

I'm really offended by the holier-than-thou tone of many of
these "don't bring your children" postings. So forgive me if my tone
is confrontational.

I have, on first thought, two words for you: CHILD CARE. Why should
our movement for social change exclude low- or moderate-income
parents? I don't see any of these postings offering alternative
activities for infants and toddlers during demos.

Upon further reflection, it really seems that this reactionary no-kids
stance is not just excluding the participation of young people, who
should be part of our lives in a real and meaningful way (and vice-
versa). It's also excluding parents, particularly mothers, from our
political activities. And I don't see any reason for our movement for
social change to be exclusive. I mean, we're often disproportionately
young, childless, and privileged anyway -- why the heck would we foster
that?

And, xyz, you're right: the cops DID start it. If you read the account
by the father of the kids who were pepper-sprayed, it's clear that not
only was the attack unprovoked, it was deliberately aimed at the most
vulnerable folks in the crowd. Are we going to start telling older
people, wheelchair-bound people, folks who are temporarily injured,
etc., to stay the heck away from our protests? I'm sure as hell not
going to. Those people are smart, caring, and part of the revolution.

Rather than criticizing families who come to demos, let's fight
fiercely to make them safe. Attend City Council 'til you die of
boredom. Talk Vera Katz's staffers' ears off. Organize a mass action
demanding safety, accountability, and freedom. Start working with
Copwatch, the Police Accountability Campaign, or other groups. Do
whatever tactic seems like it'll make a difference. But, please, don't
attack our allies. We need 'em.

families of resistance! 25.Aug.2002 14:13

jamie

it's backwards to blame the parents of children who attend protests because "protests are dangerous."
yes, they are -- but why is this so?

i have friends who bring their children. one friend brought her baby and others in the crowd scolded her for doing this. as a parent, you can choose to shelter your child from the demo streets, or you can take a risk and bring them. this decision is up to the parent... and i guess my only hope is that the child is okay with attending.

i know many parents made a hard decision in bringing their young folks and this decision should be supported! when i am at a demo, i try to keep myself safe but also look around--- those in close proximity as well as all those in the street ARE my family. the young people and all others generally more vulnerable to police state abuse will get my help, if at all possible, they are my brothers and sisters and i agonize over their pain as i agonize over my own.

this is an inclusive movement. it heartens me to see people of all ages out in the streets. if they come (they as in us), we must give them our love and support. no exceptions!!

love! jamie

Bush showed up to the protest 25.Aug.2002 15:05

Anne

He's the biggest child in the U.S.

Double-standards? 25.Aug.2002 15:22

lowly human

It is not a double-standard to direct children away from religious dogma, and toward community activism. At least the concept of secular humanism is about real life, and not about scoring "afterlife" points with invisible superheroes who live in outer-space.

To call "Progressivism" a religion might draw an absolutist line in the sand, but a point should be made for what is beneficial for humanity, and what will destroy us.

Someday, history books will refer to us as "Global Revolutionaries" of sorts, because of what's at stake now.

It cannot be stressed enough that we have been forced into public displays of dissent, because of corporate control of the mass-media and democratic institutions, which was origionally how progressives strove to voice thier concerns.

History shows that every great and necessary movement that transforms human life in a positive way, begins exactly like this:

The contemporary mainstream press ridicules and misrepresents the "rabble" because the establishment writes thier paychecks.

There is an authoritarian crackdown, because the ruling class is terrified of our ideas (democracy, equity, sustainability, international human rights; crazy, huh?).

Progressives are forced into street confrontations because every non-confrontational, legal avenue that should be at our disposal is stonewalled by the establishment. And the public display of children is necessary to show who the dissenters are: families and real people.

The movement grows to become the majority, and the establishment then has no choice but to adopt some principles of the movement (i.e., taxation laws, seperation of church and state, abolition, suffrage, social security, welfare, unionization, labor laws, human rights, enviromental laws; and soon to come, corporate accountability), or be overthrown.

The only difference now, is here in the U.S., we are insulated by media silence, spin, and propaganda from the most devastating effects of our lifesyle on the World. That's why most Americans can't wake up. The majority of people in most other countries are active already, mostly BECAUSE they suffer from the effects of U.S. imperialism.

It's not as obvious to most of us who don't travel or study the facts, but life as we know it is on a very immediate extinction countdown; if it's not greenhouse gas suffocation, or industrial poisoning of everything we breathe/drink/eat, genetically engineered pollution, or nuclear apocalypse (a self-fulfilling prophesy that many bible-thumpers honestly want, just for the "I told you so" right at the flashpoint, which is the real reason why the most powerful and influential mainstream christian institutions won't lift a finger to help progressive causes), it'll be a world of bio-dome cities surrounded by wastelands, and that's for those not wealthy enough to migrate off the planet.

That is why we have to act now, while there's still a world to save.



"When the last tree has been cut down, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught, only then will they discover that money cannot be eaten."-Native American prophesy-

Reply to Lowly Human 25.Aug.2002 22:14

Flaco

I'm not sure I agree with your explanation of the double-standard. I think that much of the IndyMedia drivel that passes for "thinking" isn't a far leap from dogma. This crew has certain unshakeable beliefs that to disagree with is to risk expulsion from the community.

For example, the opporession of gays in Palestine. How many here have taken up that issue? It can't be raised because it would require a rethinking of the entire Palestinian issue where they can only be seen as victims. The mental gynastics that Indymedia folks would need to perform to ration this through are daunting so the issue is swept under the carpet. Or take the issue of police / authority. It's a wide-spread belief that they are fascist, tools of the "machine." One can't take a moderate position in this regard without being sworn at or ex-communicated from the community. For these and other reasons, I see no difference between religious dogma and anything here.

Children are photogenic 25.Aug.2002 23:08

anon

If we continue to seek popular support, children must be in published photographs.

Placing cute fuzzy animals in front of the cameras also works.

Plus they enjoy themselves running around outside - kids spend too much time in front of the tube and computer screen.

And most protests are safe.

stop wasting time 29.Aug.2002 08:29

mamansita

do you know that over half of the homeless people in amerikkka are children nowadays. when the powerful are pulling the shots, it's usuall the mothers and the little children who suffer while the war-parties claim everything theirs in a fervor of patriotism and heroism. blah! what a waste of man-hours. too bad the werent digging gardens and building shelters. make mine underground please.

suffering begets resentment 05.Sep.2002 06:58

interplanetary fairy

awarm houses and good food are definitely better at calming folks down than riot cops and pepper spray. but the, peace never was their goal. it's conquest.