A Note on DNC Protesters…and Activists In General!

By Guest Columnist Aug 28, 2008

Originally published on Kenyon Farrow Today I came across this video report, from the American News Project, about police intimidation of protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week. This video, we’ve seen a million times since the infamous Seattle WTO protests of 1999, of mostly white protesters, exercising their “Constitutional right” to assembly and protest, and being righteously indignant if they’re impeded from that glorious goal. I stopped going to these kinds of anti-globalization/anti-war protests several years ago because of everything you’re going to witness when watching this video, but can ultimately be summed up in three words: WHITE LIBERAL ENTITLEMENT. First of all the video opens with a quote from the First Amendment to the US Constitution which reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Note to protesters: Congress, in this case, did not make any law. You are dealing with the police. They kick ass and ask questions later. Your Constitutional rights can always be violated, and you can sue to get them back, only after the fact. But being white, you don’t often have to deal with the daily stop and frisks, arrests, detainments. So I guess thinking that you have rights in the first place that the police are supposed to respect ahead of time is a case of white entitlement. To the contrary, an older Black woman activist said to me in New Orleans years ago, “Why do we do these ‘know your rights’ trainings when we know you don’t have any?” Everything else here flows from there. Hordes of white people shrieking “Who’s streets? Our streets?” Well, we know. These same white hipsters/activists have priced Black and Latino people out of many neighborhoods across the US. I am well aware they are “your streets.” In a different context, say, Harlem, the policing increases ten-fold, to protect you from me. That protest slogan, which I have heard comes from the Gay Liberation Front (which was not without its race issues) post-Stonewall, has long outlived its usefulness, because of the dynamic witnessed in this video. White people do own the streets. The police getting in your face to protect the property/image of the State is not new or shocking. Peep the woman in the red shirt shouting to the police THIS IS AMERICA!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? My question is, What does she think America is? What does she think the police are for? This, to me, IS America. Period. This is not some aberration, or some recent (i.e. post 9-11) devolution of a once free state (the two terms are almost an oxymoron). The two white men explaining that “they’re not protesters,” and yet they got hemmed in by the cops for two hours just the same. I wish the time I was nearly thrown to the ground by some kind of private security (I believe was Blackwater) goons in New Orleans I could have had that excuse. I was just Black and that was all they needed to know to assume I was trying to rob the mostly non-black friends I was trailing behind slowly on a bicycle. When you’re white, you assume that you have a personhood separate and distinct from your race. I’ve never made that assumption–or I’ve never been allowed to. And to the point about racial profiling, peep the people with the scarves pulled above their faces. I know that is in part to protect one’s self against the use of tear-gas and mace, but it is also to protect one’s identity. Let me tell you, if my Black ass walked around any street in America with a scarf pulled above my face, I’d be assumed to be robbing someone and be shot to the ground, no questions asked. Once again, the assumption that you have an “identity” to be protected from policing and surveillance, versus knowing that you are constantly policed and surveilled because of your racial/gendered body. For all of this white liberal outrage about their right to protest being denied, they cut a 6 minute video piece (from what was probably several hours of footage), and got ALL UP IN the face of these police officers without an act of retaliation or violence. I think that the protest hopping Left really gets off on these huge displays police intimidation and violence enacted because of protesting. They’re mostly content with other forms of police violence, and these displays seem to make them feel oppressed and gives them a relevance they seem to relish! Oh yeah, watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoAVce-Rc2c&eurl=http://kenyonfarrow.com/2008/08/26/a-note-on-dnc-protestersand-activists-in-general/