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SNOW Coalition and Peace Keepers in Seattle: The Guardian Angel Syndrome

It feels like the peace keepers and SNOW see their role as one of censorship and control. Protesters shall not be angry. Protesters shall not raise their voices. Protesters shall not veer off the police approved march route. Protesters shall OBEY!
SNOW Coalition and Peace Keepers in Seattle: The Guardian Angel Syndrome
By Kirsten Angerberg

"I am very upset by this war," "Could you maybe stop this war?" "War is bad, please stop, you guys," "Peace, please... "* The polite "protests" the SNOW Coalition puts on are becoming laughable. One teen asked me why protests look like the audience of an old 70's band reunion. Good question.

The idea of the SNOW Coalition was a good one, it seemed. Basically, it was suburban home owners, banding together in their own neighborhoods to show that even capitalist, heterosexual couples with cars and houses oppose the war, not just those radical anarchists and fringe elements... They felt their middle-classness would add legitimacy to the anti-war movement, I believe. But over time, I have come to dread the SNOW Coalition (and them, me, I'm sure) and the "Peace Keepers," as their memberships overlap, due to their paternalistic tone which is annoying and disrespectful. They remind me of the Guardian Angels, and the way they are laughed at, and seen as pompous, self-appointed, self-aggrandizing mini-cops.

At the Federal Building on March 22, 2003, one cop quipped some smart assed remark about how protesters were idiots, and I turned, looked him dead in the eye and said "How do you live with yourself?" He and I were staring in each others' eyes and saying nothing for quite a while, when all of a sudden a peace keeper put herself in between me and the cop, so all of a sudden her back was to me, and she was literally saying to the cop, "Nice weather we are having today officer, isn't it?" THAT WAS WEIRD!

Another odd incident I remember was in March 2003, some white boy, about 18 years old, was shadowing me. I asked what he was doing. He said peace keepers told him to "keep an eye on" me. I said "Keep an eye on me for what?" He did not answer. This kid kept asking me, "are you alright?" when I would yell something about a cop breaking a law in front of me, to highlight it for the media or public, etc. I kept asking the kid, "are you alright?" I am still unclear as to what THAT was all about. We still get a laugh off that line in my house... someone will do something, anything, and one of us will say "are you alright?" It is annoying in NO time.

Then there is that weird Mar 22 , 2003 protest event, that was hosted by Not In Our Name, a more radical anti-war element than SNOW. It was the first week of the war. Some SNOW members publicly told people to stay away from protests that day. Then police rioted on hundreds of unarmed people (myself and son included) on First Avenue. When I finally got myself and my kid out of the containment/riot area, I got to the plaza above and there were SNOW members and peace keepers doing NOTHING VISIBLE OR EFFECTIVE TO STOP THE RIOT A BLOCK AWAY. The peace keepers said "we know it is happening, geez, it sounds bad down there." I began to not like SNOW and peace keepers over time.

It feels like the peace keepers and SNOW see their role as one of censorship and control. Protesters shall not be angry. Protesters shall not raise their voices. Protesters shall not veer off the police approved march route. Protesters shall obey all orders from police. Protesters shall stay silent about police abuse. Protesters shall damage no property. Protesters shall not really PROTEST... Protesters shall be polite on a dog's leash, with SNOW and peace keepers holding the chains, with our lips attached to cops' asses at all times. Apparently, from my experience, protesters shall not look into the eyes of a cop... or else they will be forced to intervene... to protect... THE COP? OR ME? Good question.

As time goes on, I have come to view SNOW and the peace keepers as mini-cops. They try to play patsy (against the will of many of us) between cops and protesters. Cops say do not block traffic, protesters start to block traffic, and all of a sudden peace keepers intervene instructing everyone not to block traffic. They seem a police dream team, really. The cops using a protester element, to boss protesters around, is brilliant, if protesters are dumb enough to go for it.

The final straw for me came on 4/23/04. I showed up at the really lame "protest" at Westlake against Caterpillar bulldozers being used as weapons of murder in Israel, and tried to take pictures of the 4 bike cops against the wall watching us. And 3 of the cops sped away on their bikes as if a camera was like the light of day to a vampire. Officer Larame broke the law right there, and I announced it loudly to everyone. All of a sudden, some 50-something guy with a long ponytail and anti-war buttons on, came up to me saying I was just trying to cause trouble and calling me an "instigator." Yes. It is true. I am an instigator of police accountability. Shame on me. I guess I am an instigational reporter.

I looked around at the "protest" of middle-class white people mostly older than me, paternalistically telling me how to think and act and wondered why I should give a shit what they think. They do not care about supporting direct action. They do not support police accountability for all constructive purposes. They do not support anarchists, or radicals, or even just "angry" people, is the way it appears. And, um, I think this war crap is valid stuff of anger, sorry. Just saying "war is bad, now stop you guys" is NOT WORKING. THE WAR RAGES ON, DRAGGING MORE INTO ITS BLACK HOLE DAILY.

Most of my friends started out supporting the SNOW Coalition and the peace keepers. Most of my friends have now left the SNOW Coalition due to its exclusionist tactics and police ass-kissing, to be blunt. Paternalistic enforcement of "polite protest" is getting obnoxious as this war rages on. The question has become - WHO ARE SNOW AND THE PEACE KEEPERS PROTECTING? POLICE OR PROTESTERS? IT IS NOT CLEAR.

*(I got these "slogans" from a cartoon at www.theaword.net)

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

SNOW is not the problem 24.Apr.2004 11:34

Seattle anarchist

If you disagree with the tactics of a group, the organize a different event in common cause with people that share you tactics and vision. If individuals in SNOW (because we are talking about individuals; you have not provided us with any mandate or resolution from SNOW that condones the behavior of individuals you describe) are out of line, it can be assumed that there are at least just as many that are trying to do the right thing. Find them and work with them. Yelling and screaming will not aid this cause.

If an organization bills an event safe enough to take your babies to and to not get thrown in jail (and consequently lose your job, and not be able to support kids or end up on the street), and someone is trying to instigate some shit with the pig, that creates a problem. The pigs will respond to any provacation. The Left or the anarchists in Seattle will not organize a cop watch, had a very scant support network for people who go to jail (i.e. they organize protests, and do not follow through on the court cases, and almost refuse to support anyone charged with felonies--so much for innocent until proven guilty), and in gerneral is extremely dysfunctional. Having the SNOW crowd in some ways was a breath a fresh air, beccause for once there could be new faces, and numbers do well for drowningout the voices of broken-record usual suspect movement wingnuts.

I can't even fathom why one would expect unarmed people to diffuse a police riot. Maybe you will be downtown next time handing out the AKs? (Hyperbole, for you law enforcement types).

NION is a front group for Avakian's RCP. Unfortunately they are the only game in town as far as anything "militant". But, I have no plans to mix it up with the pigs, when there is no support network in place, when people want to sell wolf tickets to cops (and to eachother) for no stategic reason, and there are no real goals for change on the local level. Seattle is a city of complainers, who want everyone else to do their work, rather then people doing it for themselves.

Again, if you don't like SNOW, do what Arissa is doing in Stumptown and organize your own event.

Oh, and apologies to PDX indymedia for airing Seattle dirty laundry here. Our movement is so screwed that even our own indymedia isn't very useful. Thanks for an awesome web site, and setting an example.

Peacekeepers have always been cops 24.Apr.2004 16:05

Wild Green

Peacekeepers have always been cops, its the reaccurring theme of the democratic zombies. The middle class have always told us to pacify our resistence and vote for the business party- its the same "anyone but Bush" herd mentality that expects us to vote for warmonger Kerry*. I would not be surprised if in reaction to witnessing a slave break off their chains, they cried, "Non-violence! Non-violence! Shame! Shame! No property destruction!".

* This is all under the pretexts of U.N. world government. I will not choose a U.N. war of imperialism over a U.S. war of imperialism.