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.