portland independent media center  
images audio video
promoted newswire article reporting portland metro

actions & protests | corporate dominance | genetic engineering wto sacramento

Sacramento aint no Seattle!

It seems that law enforcement's drift towards fascism in recent months is not slowing down one iota. In fact, I think it would not be overstating the situation to say that the police state we have been warned about, is in full effect in Sacramento as we speak.
I just returned to Portland from Sacramento this morning and what I witnessed there yesterday and last night was very, very disturbing.
I arrived at the "Welcome" center in Sacramento on Saturday morning only to find out that it had just been raided by the cops.
Following my arrival in Sacramento on Saturday morning, my wife and I immediatly visited the "Welcome" center to get updated to all of the pertinent information.
The first thing we heard was that the cops had just left after raiding the center for what amounted to bogus reasons. They stole the seedballs people had made and then promptly called the local corporate media to videotape their presentation of showing how the seedballs could be used as weapons by shooting them into cardboard with slingshots.
The raid, coupled with the incredible police presence throughout the city were my first clues that the police were not going to allow another "Seattle".

For the first time in my life, I got a real taste of what it would be like to live in a police state.
Yes, I have seen the Porltand police participate in fascist actions many times (of which I have dealth with on a personal level more than once), but this was different.
It was different because there weren't just police in the immediate area where the protests were supposed to take place, they were everywhere.
In addition to their massive presence, they were employing tactics of intimidation throughout the city by pursueing unjustified raids, pulling people over for "manufactured" reasons, screaming threats for such things as throwing a frisbee in the park, etc. etc.

As we moved throughout the downtown area (as well as other parts of city), we noticed large groups of police in the parks, in the allies, in the street, driving up and down residential areas, on the rooftops, and even spying through tinted windows of office buildings that were opposite of the park and convention center.
State cops, Highway patrol, Sherriffs, local police, plain clothes cops, cops in helicopters, motorcycle cops, riot cops, cops on horseback, dog cops, etc. etc.
You name the place in Sacramento, there were cops there! Not a few cops, but a whole shit load of cops.
They had the usual array of riot gear and military style (tank-like) vehicles and the platform pickups that transport the stormtroopers from place to place.
It was pretty obvious to me that they were letting everyone know, they were there and they were there in big numbers.

Following our disturbing and irritating entrance into the city, we decided to go to the "teach-in" which was being held at Sacramento state university.
The panel at the opening conference was made up of people from all over the world and was excellent.
I have never heard a group of people who were so emotionally charged about an issue, it was very inspiring.

Following the opening conference, there were several "breakout" sessions covering various topics pertaining to globilization and GMO's.
One of the sessions I attended was a session on "direct action" that was facilitated by Starhawk. She gave a "crash course" on civil disobediance techniques and maintaining solidarity that was both fun and informing.
Later we had lunch on the river (complete with entertainment) and then the various affinity groups broke off to discuss strategies and meetings.

That night we met at the one of the local union halls for more strategizing and that was followed by a "summer solstice" ritual led by starhawk where about 150 people did a spiral dance next to the railroad tracks. The feeling of comraderie and togetherness was awesome!!!!

On Sunday, people were supposed to meet at Capitol park at 2 pm for a rally without permission.
As it got closer and closer to two o'clock, it seemed that there might not be a massive protest because only a few dozen people were standing around the north end of the park. The horde of media (from around the world) stood by and I heard several of them calling their media outlets informing them that there was no protest and only a handfull of people.
Just then, a large group of protestors dressed like butterflys marched through the park from the south.
A few minutes later, another large group of "corn people" came from the other side of the park, they were followed by three or four other groups (who were largely "black bloc" protestors.

In just a few minutes, the crowd went from virtually non-existant to over 1000.
The mood and atmosphere immediatly blossomed into cheers and one of solidarity.
The cops began forcing people who were carrying signs from the park and told them they had to be on the sidewalk, this only lasted for awhile and the police realized that keeping all of these people out of the park was going to be a major undertaking.
But that was when the crowd split up into their various groups and began heading to their pre-planned "quadrants" with an unauthorized march through the downtown area.

It was about 85, but it seemed much hotter to a Portland guy in the sun.
My group took an intersection and held it.
But it seemed that everytime anything significant happened where the police felt outnumbered or "not in total control", it wasn't long before truckloads of stormtroopers arrived clicking their batons on their thigh pads marching towards crowds blocking traffic.
Instead of sitting down like ducks, when the police presence became much more significant, the crowd would immediatly run to another intersection and take it over. This tactic kept the cops moving constantly and they were often seen running from area to area in large groups.
During this period, there were several incidents with motorists who were becoming hostile with people blocking traffic.
One guy in a large new pickup jumped out of his truck and grabbed one of the people who was blocking his way and he was immediatly surrounded (which had a major impact on his attitude), and people were able to calm him down and get him on his way, but not before a couple of black bloc people spray painted a large anarchist symbol on the back of his truck.

At this point a couple of large dumpsters were rolled down the street and right into a group of cops who chased them away. Later a couple of more large dumpsters were overturned and trash littered the street. (including a couch in the middle of an intersection)
This was cleaned up by other protestors who apparently rejected this tactic.

After about 3 straight hours of moving back and forth to block various intersections, the crowds seemed to be getting tired and hot.
Many stopped at an intersection and came off the street for some shade and water. After about a 15 minute rest, our group continued it's journey to a local community co-op where there was a lot with organic gardening. The police were also there.
At that point, the police seemed happy with just "tracking" the various groups of protestors, rather than confronting them directly.
This back and forth stuff continued into the early evening where we then gathered in mass near the IMAX theatre and cops began arresting more and more people.

As much as I wanted to stay for the entire ministerial, my kids and dogs were waiting at home (as well as my job) so we had to leave.
I have to sayt that I was very impressed with the organization of the various affinity groups and the tenacity of the people who came to oppose the bio-tech industries lies.
Despite the huge police presence and attempts at intimidation, the majority of the protestors were not phased.

I only hope that the numbers are much larger today.

those anarcho punks are mysterioius 23.Jun.2003 14:31

john

that dumpster stuff was pretty funny. they started getting pretty creative with them too. i helped them drum on a few of them while they waited for people with spray paint to come and tag anarchy hearts on there.

i noticed that using a friendly manner when talking to the people in cars calms them down a lot. remember, you want them on your side. if they look tense, appologize for the inconvienence, it might help do prevent any disputes between the protestors and traffic.

Surprize... 23.Jun.2003 15:40

Geo. Wash. Hayduke

Ok in seattle we surprized the state with our intensity and resolve. But that said the pigs and their corporate masters know that we are going to be at their little meetings and gatherings. We know this or should know this. Now how about a new tactic: The people at the (WTO) meeting are real people with names and addresses. The pigs have names and addresses. So why keep attacking the state head on? why let the enemy know what we are going to do? We keep on trying to repeat seattle to a fault. To gloves are off my friends and to police state is in effect. New ways of tearing down the state must be forged. Is the most brutal state, the most violent state, the wealthist state in history just going to go away because we um, block the street for a few short moments? I think not. Don't take this the wrong way I just want the movement to be real, to fight like we are GOING TO WIN! Stop being so fucking happy and civil with the facist state before it's to late...

Make every hour... Cocktail hour.... Whoosh!!!

Whooopee 23.Jun.2003 16:49

AnIhhT8

Ah, but after all is said and done, nothing has changed, 'cause majority rules. After you're gone, we'll sweep the streets and go back to business as usual. If you had a message to send, no one heard it. And the more violent you get, the less they hear you. Or haven't you figured that out yet? There are better ways to make change, but you'll have to mature *alot* to discover what the answer is. People are sheep. Find a shepard.


Until next time....

majority rules? 23.Jun.2003 17:10

student of history

Funny, I can't think of a single progressive step this country has made that wasn't led by a dedicated minority, from the american revolution, the abolition movement, the women's sufferage movement, the civil rights movement, and into the movements of today. A dedicated but minority group of progressives have always dragged the majority kicking and screaming into a better future and away from the status quo. The movements of today will be no different.

it is possible 23.Jun.2003 18:38

skraps

"Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

come back and visit some time 23.Jun.2003 20:30

Decay

I was shocked by the stormtroopers. It was total overkill. Sacramento is a really great city, the cops pretty much leave the music scene alone, and don't hassle people. The whole Sac show was run by the Feds & it was very disturbing indeed. I was hoping that the Black Bloc would stir things up, but they were tailed by cops everywhere they went. Maybe everyone should wear office wear to the next event. Blend in more.

aggressive police using successful tactics 24.Jun.2003 01:31

sierra

I have never been to a protest where I felt more threatened by the police. The feds and local cops in Sacramento were incredibly aggressive, outnumbered the demonstrators, and accomplished their intended goal of separating the protestors as much as possible. The result felt like a lack of solidarity and organization to many who were intimidated enough to leave and won't return. Also, the mainstream media filmed and reported what they saw -only dozens, or perhaps hundreds of activists at any given place and time, rather than the reality - which was well over a thousand. We need to address this tactic so that activists can be counted and seen as a larger group, get the messages out there with some strength, and feel some level of confidence that they're not about to be singled out and seriously injured.

sounds like being in chicago at the democratic convention in 1968 24.Jun.2003 07:27

andrea pdx

Reminds me of Chicago in August of 1968....ahh sweet nostalgia....a week before the convention, you would see police cars filled with chicago's finest all through downtown Chicago. The convention center was ringed with police. Herds of cops would roam through the downtown parks. Their intent was to intimidate and to give you the message that they were looking for any excuse to mess you up.

Yes that's what a police state looks and feels like.

Reply to Irene -- Seattle wasn't trashed 24.Jun.2003 09:59

Matt from Seattle

One more lie the right wing tells again and again. Ask anyone who lived in Seattle on November 30, 1999. The city wasn't trashed. At the time, they did a survey. Over 90% of people IN Seattle supported the protesters... (protesters support was higher than the cops!). Only suburbanites, terrorized into staying in their living rooms by hysterically inaccurate reports, thought the city was trashed. A few windows were broken -- that's it! If the right wing was secure in its beliefs, it wouldn't have to lie all the time.

not that bad 24.Jun.2003 12:42

stephen

i am not one to stop people from condemning the police state. in fact, i was a victim of it this weekend. but in reality the police reaction was not as bad as i expected. they didn't do "sweep traps" like SFPD did in march, where they'd trap us in from both sides and then beat/arrest *everone*. the lack of mass arrests was actually a bit of a surprise to me. each time the cops would line a street and march slowly up it, i was looking the other way to see when another line would form and then have us surrounded. luckily, that didn't happen (at least on sunday, while i was still observing).

anyway, i agree that we live in a police state, and that the police have now become another arm of the corporate powers. however, i actually don't think they were as sneeky as they could have been. i don't mean that to make anyone less angry, or to lessen the anger regarding how those who've been arrested have been treated (especially red red). stay angry. stay alert. keep resisting.

Where are previous postings? 24.Jun.2003 12:48

Sac demonstrator

I spent a lot of time typing a reply to Irene and also richard@cal (?). Richard (I think that was his name) used some bad language, but I felt his posting deserved an enlightening reply.....

After hitting submit and patiently waiting, I discovered that their postings are now gone, and my response (in which I made some good points) never appeared!

I'm curious - are we only allowing postings from folks that agree with us???

postings 24.Jun.2003 13:07

pdxtech

"I spent a lot of time typing a reply"

There is known problem that if you spent too long typing a post your session id will time out. Did you get a confirmation message that your post had been accepted? If not, and you got a blank posting page than your comment did not go through. We apologize, this error should be fixed in the next software upgrade which should happen in the next couple of weeks. We have always, and will always recommend that if people put a lot of time into a post that they save it, just in case there are problems.

"are we only allowing postings from folks that agree with us"

Absolutely not, but you will find that rhetoric slung around. We have been removing abusive and disruptive posts (including disinformation). This morning we hid several posts (nothing is ever deleted) that had no substance other than to be insulting, from both "left-wing" and "right-wing" points of view. Intelligent commentary is welcome from all points of view, but we are attempting to keep these forums from degenerating into nothing but name-calling and insults. Most of our readers have expressed the desire to not have to wade through such nonsense to find intelligent and interesting postings. Many people say that they will not bother with unmoderated forums which always degenerate into garbage. We hope that regardless of one's beliefs and opinions they will take the time to compose an intelligent statement or critique and refrain from name calling and insults, and if not, to not waste people's time.

Reply to pdxtech 24.Jun.2003 13:30

Sac demonstrator

Thank you for the explanation. I understand - and agree!

I hit the back button to try and retrieve my text, but that didn't work...For a specific reason involving privacy, I didn't want to save my reply, some others may not want to save their replies, either...I hope the upgrade will prevent losing one's text if they take too long to type it?...

And you ain't dedicated 24.Jun.2003 21:50

Decay

I already got erased once on a post about the Black Bloc wimping out in Sac. Basically you have nobody to blame but yourself. You played right into the police hands. You had no backup plan and keeled over at the first sign of police interference. When you get arrested, you whine about it. So yeah, it ain't no Seattle, and you should have known that.

Hey Decay! 25.Jun.2003 09:17

StevetheGeenanarchist

I agree with your comments to some extent, but feel that your approach is divisive and even accusatory towards people who made the committment to go down there and do what they could and at least attempt to make a difference.

We all approach life from different angles complete with different values.
I respect people who just wanted to march. I respect people who wanted to FSU.
We need them all.

The continual effort on the part of some to divide us based on tactics is not and will never be a motivating factor for people whose personal principles do not allow them to participate in certain actions.
Nor will the criticism from the "peaceful protestors" directed toward those who participate in more radical tactics change the minds of those people.

Characterizing the lack of property destruction as "wimping out" while you were home sitting on your couch, is the real problem.

Solidarity only occurs through mutual respect.
Your post is a solidarity buster with no postive purpose.

Hey StevetheGeenanarchist 25.Jun.2003 11:46

Decay

I was there - Sunday and Monday - So don't give me any crap about sitting on my couch. Self-rightousness is one of the major faults with many of you. The Black Bloc didn't do anything but act unfriendly, scare off peaceful protesters and make the demonstrations look sinister to the public. You have to realize that there are demonstrations of one kind or another in Sacramento everyday. It is the capital of the 5th biggest economy in the world. As far as the other demonstrations went, I beleive they were successful. The people of Sacramento think that the police overdid it. People that work downtown are angry, not at the protesters, but at the police for blocking off traffic, having helicopters buzzing overhead and basically paying 1000's of police overtime when there is no money to pay them.

Getting arrested doesn't help the cause. George Patton said, "you don't win wars by dying for your country, you win by having the other son's of a bitches die for theirs." I can't feel sorry for any protesters sob story about being arrested for real or imagined civil disobediance. There are 100's of African-Americans sitting in the same jail for jaywalking, not having an ID and anything else that the police trump up.