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.
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