portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article portland metro

bikes/transportation | corporate dominance | imperialism & war | media criticism

Corporate Media Lies, Part 23: police "restraint"

a doublespeak analysis / rant
The corporate media have been describing police during the last few days of anti-war protests (which started on Thursday, March 20) as showing "restraint" in their behavior toward individuals. I've heard otherwise well-meaning and intelligent-seeming liberal-type people repeating this lie as well, including during the PPRC rally yesterday, when the police were actually *thanked* for how they've been doing.

This is absolute bullshit.

People are so brainwashed by the corporate media that they've lost all perspective on what rational human behavior is. The only way to characterize the police as showing "restraint" is if you're going to give them credit for not actually killing anybody (yet).

I have not witnessed a single act in the last 5 days that warrants anyone being peppersprayed, beaten, shot with rubber bullets, thrown to the ground, or subjected to pain compliance. I have, however, witnessed more of all-of-the-above than i could easily count up. The only riots I've seen have been police riots and the only violence I've seen has been police violence.

Walking in the street is not violent.

Sitting in the street is not violent.

Jaywalking (especially when the street is already blocked by cops) is not violent.

Spray-painting is not violent.

And no, breaking a window at McDonalds is not violent either.

Yet, these are the actions that supposedly justify the violent police response that has run rampant the last five days. Again this morning I saw violence. I saw people grabbed, manhandled, and arm-twisted. In an incident I did not see, but heard from someone I trust, the police threw a person to the ground so their face hit the pavement and then peppersprayed them in the face. This was for jaywalking.

On Thursday, on the Morrison Bridge, a 14 year old girl was peppersprayed in the face. So was a woman in her fifties who looked like your next-door neighbor or aunt. Another young woman was thrown to the ground and hit her head so hard she couldn't walk without assistance. A large man suffered a respiratory attack after the pepperspray was flying and I watched his body convulse violently on the pavement until an ambulance came for him. Critical Mass bike riders were beaten and I saw a woman with a huge bruise across the back of her thigh. On Saturday, a disabled teenage woman was tackled in the crosswalk (on a street blocked by cops) and taken to the Justice Center. They wouldn't let her crying mother in to see her.

Now listen here, and listen good: THIS IS NOT POLICE RESTRAINT.

None of these people deserved this violent treatment. Yet when the corporate media reports "restraint" they are justifying this behavior. Not only the behavior that occured, but future behavior too. You and I and other people who choose to protest on the streets are now in more danger because of this reporting. Seeing that they can get away with it, the police are now more likely to abuse us when they can. The claim by corporate media that they are "objective" is a lie. They are working with the police when the subject is police violence. Even when one of their own is attacked, they soon forget. Their coverage does not change. Their propaganda continues.

So if you want to know one reason why people might be blocking corporate media cameras at protests and trying to prevent them from working, this was one: because our safety as protesters is put at risk by them. Their choices -- in this case, to describe the police as showing "restraint" -- run counter to our freedoms and health. They are part and parcel of the repressive corporate institutions that make war, cut trees, and enslave people. They must be stopped.


(P.S. - before anyone else says it, yes -- i'm aware of the rumor that a police officer was attacked in some way by a protester at some point on thursday. i don't know if i believe it. but if it is true, that one act does not justify any of the actions the police took afterwards, toward people who weren't the attacker. as for the attacker, (s)he has a consititutional right to their day in court to be punished or not. the police are not judge/jury/executioner and do not have the right to mete out punishment on their own.)

TRUTH BEHIND "RESTRAINT" 25.Mar.2003 17:21


This is absolutley correct. I;'ve seen it in Eugene and I've seen it in Portland: whenever the cops lose, that is, whenever they cannot contain the situation...they fal;l back and watch. They lose. The next day they drum it up as police "restraint". How they hell can this be true? I saw almost every officer on they street, they called out everything they had, riot cops, bike cops, horse cops, motorcycle cops, regular cops. And they did everything that they could to stop the march from taking bridges and freeways. But they lost.
If anybody was restrained, it was the protesters. The downtown area was empty of cops except where the demo was. Really, downtown could have been trashed and there's nothing that the pigs could've done about it. But it wasn't, because that would've skewed the message. Indeed, there was no riot. The only acts of violence were those acts perpetrated by the pigs. Some demonstrators clashed with them because the police chose to intervene, with all their riot gear and weaponry, and they got hurt. If they'd left the protestors alone, everyone would've been all right. THAT"S WHY THE COPS WERE CLASHING WITH THE PROTESTORS. Of course, the media drums it up as va iolent demonstration.

SO amen 25.Mar.2003 18:11


God. I've felt like it was just me. Like I was living in some orwellian nightmare. I watched the most brutal assault I've seen in YEARS, perpetrated by police, on Thursday last. I couldn't BELIEVE it. I went out to speak against the war "over there" and realized we're at war here in our own streets too. I never, ever thought I would see such a thing in my own city. It was awful.

I grew up thinking the police were the good guys. I SO learned otherwise in the past week. I will NEVER vote for vera katz again, I will NEVER have polite conversation with "officer friendly" again, I will NEVER trust the corporate media again.

I thought you guys on this site were maybe just a little paranoid, perhaps extremist. Boy, was I wrong. Those riot police WERE fascists. They really were. It was like what 60 minutes used to warn us about concerning countries behind the iron curtain. Then I come home and watch the news to see what they are going to do about the cops who ran amok, and I get this cutsey, cheezy story about how "lenient" the police were, how much "restraint" they showed, how "violent" the PROTESTERS were. What a lie. What an utter, complete, irredemable lie.

If I was liberal before, if I was "mainstream" before, I have crossed beyond. I am radical now.

blame it on the media! 25.Mar.2003 18:50


who ever posted this is full of po-poo!!!

first off...if all is what you say is true, then why would you not want the media to be there to cover all of the police abuse cases that you speak of??? acording to you the cops were on a beating spree!!! if they were "allowed" at your protest then don't you think they would at least be able to get one or two cops on tape crackin activist headz!

my guess is that your making false claims in order to make the police look like the bad guys...when in reality, cops are being forced to deal with holtile/violent activists who wish nothing more but to start trouble in the name of "peace".

on a personal note - i'm anti-war, however its my opinion that the "super sized" left is just fucked as the ultra-right! extreamism just forces people to turn the other way....

i wtinessed 25.Mar.2003 19:38


I witnessed some of the same stuff that's in this article. It's not hostile people being taken out, it's peacefull folks, too. I saw a guy get shoved so that he stumbled and fell, and then meniced with a baton for just stepping off the curb when there wasn't any traffic coming at all.

to bambatta 25.Mar.2003 20:30

mtvkillsbunnies dicknity@balls.com

I was one of those who became a victim of police brutality today, and about 4 corporate media cameras were on me.

I went to their sites to see if I could get footage to help me with my case, and guess what?

The protests never happened.

The police did a great job keeping the city under control.

Those who broke the law (which I did not) were arrested and "treated fairly," (which I was NOT!)

Capitalism is great, and so is Pepsi and Diet Coke.

The protests never really happened.

You love war.


Buy your SUV from Ford general moters.

Buy your gas from Texaco.

Next election, vote for Bush.

Radicals are terrorists.

You love TV.


Media GOOD!

Here here 25.Mar.2003 23:47


I agree that the police have been acting like fascists, but it is restraint because they really want to be treating us like Iraqis. Be thankful that Vera isn't W or Asscroft. Be thankful that the local media is not as far gone as Foxnews or MSNBC.

On another note, learn from the city's success. They put a friendly face on Police brutality. Where's the friendly face of Peace protests? Make one that's news worthy and it will cover up the anarchist scuffles.