The police were deliberately provocative, probably trying to stir things up. You think that $10 million insurance policy the RNC had against police brutality could have been a factor here? Sort of like a Get Out of Lawsuit Free card, I’m thinking.
But some protesters did throw rocks, smash windows, slash tires. Were they all provocateurs? I doubt it. Cops in any city under any political system would come down hard on that.
The protests were sure spirited. Twin Cities Indymedia, ColdsnapLegal, and many others did an amazing job of getting the news out at doing what they could. However, the protests had no political focus and achieved no discernable goals. To the contrary, most mainstream folks thought those damn kids got what they deserved.
Protest needs focus, it needs to be organized and to have a clearly defined and easily understood message that makes others want to join the cause. The RNC protests were missing that. At the very least, a couple of designated spokespersons holding regular press conferences and faxing out updates to mainstream media could have made a significant difference in the public perception of what happened.
I agree, the message was lost in the mix. Most people, even if they agreed with the goals of the protesters heard more about the police brutallity, property destruction and general chaos than about the goals of the protesters.
That being said, I understand completely how protests don’t make the press anymore and how a more ‘active’ engagement with the local law is sometimes required to stir up interest. Still, the message should remain on target and not get drowned out by stories of tear gas and police harassment. This only plays into thier hands to shift the focus to law enforcement or from structural violence to real violence, which legitimates their claim of a violent human nature requiring heavy handedness at times.