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Are Cops Like Bulls? Are Protests Like Running With the Bulls?

This article explores a comment made to one of my articles, by "Officer Friendly," that said about police violence at protests, "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns, you know what I mean?" I began to compare the bull and the police...
FTAA Nov 2003, police overkill...(FTAA Indy Media)
FTAA Nov 2003, police overkill...(FTAA Indy Media)

Are Cops Like Bulls? Are Protests Like Running With the Bulls?
By Kirsten Anderberg Copyright 2004

I wrote an article called "What Does Legal Self-Defense From Riot Police Look Like?" It got many responses, but one intrigued me most. It was from someone using the name "Officer Friendly" and the domain of their email was "USA.gov" (check out www.usa.gov, by the way). His response to my article was "You mess with the bull, you get the horns, you know what I'm saying?" He reflects the sentiments of many Americans regarding protests. If you are going to go out and PROTEST, you deserve whatever VIOLENCE you get from POLICE. But how does that sit with the ideal of free speech in America? It is odd that those who defend the war in Iraq most passionately, also most vehemently reject the concept of free speech at home in America in the form of protests, while touting it as one of our great liberating purposes in Iraq!

In law, there is a concept called "reasonable force." It is an objective standard at best, and one that communities vary upon, due to community standards, much like obscenity standards. But there is an overall agreement in American law that deadly force is not acceptable in defending personal property, or chattel, alone. One example of this would be spring-loaded shotguns in homes, which have been banned everywhere, or nearly everywhere, for years. Spring-loaded shotguns were placed facing doors and when someone opened the door, they went off. Many an innocent fire fighter, family member, and child, was killed by accident this way. But we studied one case where someone was using the spring-loaded shotgun as protection of self, feeling they were going to be hurt in their home. So when the suspect did enter the home, and was shot, this was not about defending property, but about defending what the victim perceived to be his life. But it set a bad precedent to allow that. I cannot remember the outcome of the case, but I still remember the valid parts of the debate. (Many people think law school is about remembering cases and the conclusions, but most of law school was not as concerned with the conclusions of individual cases, but rather the legislative intent and reasoning that went into the decisions, and trends running through those directions, as that is what will be used in the next cases forward). This discouragement of deadly chattel defense is also exemplified in looting situations. Sometimes in riots, storeowners will try to shoot looters. That has not been accepted as valid most times. One's physical being has to be in danger, basically, to have a good defense after seriously hurting someone who was trying to steal chattel of yours. It gets a little weirder when we get to defending land. That has other political aspects to it, around taking of land by the government, and the rights to defend that, but that is very objective in standard, also. You most likely cannot get away with killing someone for simple trespassing, for example. So let us apply this reasoning to other scenarios of similarity.

At the Democratic National Convention (DNC) held in Chicago, in 1968, protests and famous police riots exploded. We are about to have DNC protests in Boston in July, 2004, and we need to look at history. Then, as now, the debate raged about what is NECESSARY or REASONABLE FORCE by police upon protesters. Some felt that the 1968 anti-war demonstrators' open contempt for the police, and use of "extreme" obscene language towards them, "provoked" the police violence, and justified it. In the Official Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, coordinated by Daniel Walker in Nov. 1968, right after the event, reports indicated that most of the taunts to police were verbal only. Is there legal justification for physical violence, on the part of police, in reaction to verbal taunts? Should police beat a teenager's head bloody, for taunting him verbally? Is that OKAY with America's societal standards? That, to me, seems UNNECESSARY force. Do police have a DUTY to RESTRAIN ALL VIOLENT BEHAVIOR until their own physical safety, or the physical safety of others, are endangered? Who are police protecting when they beat up youth who utter epithets towards police officers, such as perhaps calling them "fucking pigs?" And in 1968, as police rioted on youth who "assaulted" them with words, the official report by Walker says, the Chicago police were reported as taunting protesters, and yelling for them to come down where cops would beat them. So police can taunt the protesters, but if the protesters verbally taunt the police, they get beaten, shot at, toxified with chemicals... it is so bizarre to have this heavy military presence on our streets posing as police forces to protect the public, yet they can taunt and assault protesters all they want, without legal recourse. They did it to anti-war protesters in Seattle, Wa. on March 22, 2003, and they did it again on June 2, 2003, in Seattle, at the LEIU protests. I was at both the March and June riots in Seattle, and both had police verbally assaulting and taunting protesters, and then police hurting nonviolent protesters who were endangering no one and nothing. And they got away with it all too, even though we made many, many complaints to proper officials. The officials somehow are acting like "We messed with the bulls, and we got the horns," as Occifer Friendly quipped in his comment.

The press was attacked and assaulted in 1968 at the DNC police riots, as police tried to destroy evidence of their behavior. Mainstream nightly news reports called it a "bloodbath." The Walker report says in its summary, "Newsmen and photographers were singled out for assault, and their equipment deliberately damaged. Fundamental police training was ignored." "Cries of "get the camera" preceded individual attacks on photographers." "Individual newsmen were warned, "You take my picture tonight, and I'm gonna get you," by police. "A photographer from a news magazine said that finally, "I just stopped shooting, because every time you push the flash, they look at you and they are screaming about, "Get the fucking photographers and get the film."" Out of 300 mainstream news reporters assigned to cover the 1968 Chicago riots, 63 were physically attacked by police, says the Walker report. So, let's review this. If protesters use epithets toward police, they risk physical assault and violence, even if the police are yelling epithets at the protesters. Then, if the press tries to document the police brutality, the police attack the press violently. DOES ANYONE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH VIOLENT FORCE USED FOR NONVIOLENT TAUNTS? And the attacking of the press to hide all evidence of the events? This same tactic of violent physical attacks on verbal free speech and protest, and the subsequent attacking of the press, especially photographers, for trying to document the violence, occurred at Seattle's WTO riots in 1999, and also at the FTAA riots in November last year. What is it the police are so afraid of being documented, if their violence is justified so and protesters deserve what they get?

Which brings me to Occifer Friendly's statement, that going to a protest is "playing with the bull," and asking for "the horns." I think his analogy of police and bulls needs exploration. Yes, bulls, as well as police, seem to charge at the sight of red and black! Both are full of bullshit. Yes, bulls have horns, and "Satan" has horns! I suppose police probably have horns too. Or maybe their horns are their weapons they carry strapped to their bodies. They have artificial horns. And artificial horns can be removed... (oh my, illegal thoughts, delete, delete). And yes, going to a protest often resembles running with the bulls once police decide to riot... I guess the bull analogy is not so bad. We use bullhorns and cameras, while police act like crazed bulls with strap-on horns... charging us. I think we should contact those who run with the bulls and learn some of their tactics.

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com
address: address: Seattle, Wa

Another cute disparity 15.Jan.2004 12:00


If you break a law, are legally arrested and charged, and fail to appear in court, you get the crime of "failure to appear" added to your rap and get a longer sentence.

If the cop breaks the law, illegally arrests you, and fails appear in court, the State moves to dismiss the case and the cop gets off scot-free.


Cops are just the horns of the elite 15.Jan.2004 12:57

Police Brutality by Design

Perhaps people would wake up to the fact that police brutality is part of the elites' design to control disgruntled masses.

The Mohawk Valley Formula dates from 1936, when it was used as a strike-breaking formula, and has been followed nearly word for word ever since. The fact that, like a cockroach, it has lasted unchanged through eras, suggests that it's effective. It could just be that the elites are unimaginative.

1. When a strike (or protest) looms, blame it on "outside agitators". Hint at communist (now, terrorist) involvement. Run an election (poll) both to learn the union's (movements) strength, and them to misrepresent the strikers as a small minority. Confuse the real issues by creating phony issues (weird hair) mostly consisting of outrageous demands (anti-trade, anarchy - the fact that the goal is usually to "Shut down" something even when we know we can't doesn't help much). Threaten to shut down the plant (say that the city will be shut down) and organize locals into a "citizen's committee".

2. Raise the cry of "law and order" to mass the police and legal machinery against imaginary violence. Or, create violence, and have the press blame the victims. Without fail, massacres are called "violent protests" and if someone fights back, the attackers are said to be "responding".

Confuse the issues - make people talk only about law and order issues (a hot button issue where no minds are changed), especially the protesters themselves, who are divided by them. If anyone mentions reasons for the protest, immediately change the subject back to law and order.

3. Build up a large armed force consisting of police, vigilantes (these days probably acting as provocateurs), spies and provocateurs.

4.Create a puppet organization of "loyal" citizens to stage a well-publicized anti-protest movement. Usually they can't find enough people, the best they can do is a small "support the police" rally.

5. Use a massive show of force to demoralize and anger the protesters, and most importantly, distract them from the issues. Intimidate people and blame the protestors for it - make it seem as if you can judge the violence of the protest by the size of the army that opposes it. This has a snowball effect as stores board up windows, hire guards, etc. Finally, blame the protestors for the cost of the army.

6. Open the factory (convention) spectacularly, as a "victory" for the elites and a "defeat" for protestors. When protestors act peacefully, as they had planned from the start, credit the army with "taming" them.

So, now we know every detail of their strategy. What's our counter-formula?

excellent points raised 15.Jan.2004 15:34

Giuseppe Garibaldi

I'm impressed. The article and the comments are very astute and your analysis is on the money. It's a hard problem. I think one way to counter these tactics is to pick the points where the elites are weakest and their agenda most unpopular. Look at the poll tax in England for example. No one there got taken in by cries of "law and order" when ordinary working class folks started raising hell in the streets against that Frankenstein brainchild of Maggie Thatcher. Another thing to do is to target those areas where the elites are divided amongst themselves. Look at the Vietnam War for an example. I think there are probably no shortage of such situations today as well.

Bulls? 15.Jan.2004 15:50


I don't think they're like bulls at all.

The Bulls have a terrible winning record. The cops are doing quite well!