Protesters seek to train police in non-violence
BY DANIEL STURM
In order to prevent police brutality in the Feb. 15 statewide rally in Lansing, The Greater Lansing Network Against War in Iraq will try to involve the Lansing and East Lansing police departments in non-violence training workshops. Many of those police officers are new recruits, and theyve never experienced this kind of situation, network coordinator Bob Alexander said.
Alexander believes that many activists will embrace non-violent forms of civil resistance, should Bush attack Iraq by or before Feb. 15. This might include taking over street blocks or occupying office buildings. Alexander expects more than 1,500 people will join the protest march, which will start at Beaumont Tower on Michigan State University campus. Its destination is the state Capitol.
Alley emphasized that he didnt want the rally escalate as it had in Grand Rapids during President Bushs visit last week. Officers wont carry sticks, he said, and the police detention centers doors will be open to media and rally organizers. But Alley also said they wanted to keep things under control: One of the tactics weve used in the past is a pressure pain compliance. Its painful and it makes people move. Captain Hall said there were several spots on the body that they could apply pressure to in cases of civil disobedience. He said they preferred this technique, because the injury for risk was much lower than lifting and carrying people off the street.
Kenneth Harrow, rally co-organizer and a Michigan State University English professor, said the network did not see police as the enemy like it was in the counter-culture days. But several activists said that if Bush decided to go to war, no one could guarantee that demonstrators would stay calm.
In conjunction with the statewide peace march, some area groups propose a more radical presence within the antiwar movement. Direct Action has called for a breakaway march, for those interested in taking the demonstration a step further. The second march will start at Frandors Ranney Skate Park and meet with the network march en route to the Capitol at about 1 p.m. Direct Action encourages costumes, street theater, blockades, lockdowns, graffiti, banners, puppets, weapons inspections, a die in, music, and whatever your hearts desire and minds can think of.
Observers of the largest international peace movement since Vietnam note the extent to which the Internet has supplemented and to some extend transformed classical forms of protest. As part of a massive lobby campaign, more than 10,000 members of the online protest organization MoveOn.org visited 450 local congressional offices on Jan. 21, in order to deliver their feelings about a possible war in Iraq: Let the Inspections Work, was MoveOn.orgs decree. As a result of this campaign (which included verified signatures of more than 310,000 Americans) 30 House members signed a Dear Colleague letter to the p[resident, asking him to let the inspectors do their jobs and abide by the U.N. process. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Lansing) received petitions from 759 people to request that sanctions be allowed to work.
Kenneth Salzmann, who coordinated the Lansing event, said that if the existing coalitions against the war would unify, it would be very possible to stop the war. Salzmann believes the antiwar movement has not yet reached its peak but that it already rivals the size of antiwar protests five years into the Vietnam War. What MoveOn.org was able to do is absolutely staggering. Unlike the Vietnam protests, grassroots movements today seem to have almost unlimited possibilities to network.
At Rogers office, 1327 E. Michigan Ave, 31 Michigan residents each said why they opposed a preemptive strike against Iraq. They asked Rogers to call upon the president to let the inspections work. Rogers, a former FBI agent, responded with a question of his own: Do you say its a preemptive strike if in fact we know his intention is to do harm to the United States? The Lansing area MoveOn.org members replied, Yes. Rogers then followed with an analogy from his time as an FBI agent. Do you kick in the door, pull out your gun, and get the bad guy before he gets the good guy? Or do you wait in the car until the murderer is done, and then go in and arrest him? Thats the question, he said.
The activists criticized this analogy, arguing the goal was to disarm Saddam Hussein and not to make war with him. As you know, the inspections after the last war destroyed more weapons than all of the bombing that we did in 1991, said MoveOn.org spokesman Charles Calati Jr.
The Bush administration has left itself open to mockery and ridicule by not providing proof of the existence of the weapons systems. Terry Jones, the former director of the renown British comedy group Monty Python parodied Bush in last Sundays edition of the British newspaper The Observer. Im going to give the whole street two weeks no, 10 days to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they dont hand them over nicely and say Thank you, Im going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come. Its just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing and, in contrast to what hes intending, my policy will destroy only one street.
©Copyright City Pulse