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November 20, 2011

Homeland Security

Portland riot police

After all the cracking down that’s been going on Stateside, a fresh look at Egyptian riot cops today reminds me how much we do things bigger and better in America.

(photo 1:Khalil Hamra/AP. caption: Egyptian riot police beat a protester during clashes in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. Thousands of police clashed with protesters for control of downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday after security forces tried to stop activists from staging a long-term sit-in there. The violence took place just nine days before Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in 2: Natalie Behring/Getty Images caption: Police in riot gear work to remove remaining protesters from the streets around the Occupy Portland encampment November 13, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. Portland police have reclaimed the two parks in which occupiers have been camping after a night of brinksmanship with protesting crowds of several thousands.)

  • Enoch

    The blue latex glove is the symbol of all that separates us from each other.

    • quincyscott

      Nitrile, actually, but absolutely.

    • Michael Gates

      I’m just glad they aren’t issued big tubes of Astroglide. Oh, well.. pepper spray is just as good, right?

  • jonst

    And we will make a “bigger and better” splash when our time comes.

  • Michael

    The symbolic work done by the protestors — a better, more cooperative, more communal world, worked out in its careful a frugal detail, fragile in material but strong in spirit — stands neatly against the ever more armoured state presence. The spirits of Gandhi and MLK, reincarnated, on one side, but here, on the other… well, we don’t know who they are, do we? They are disguised.

    The East German dissident, Jürgen Fuchs, was called into the office of of the school principal after some alleged misdeed, and there was a man there, dressed in grey civil, who introduced himself as ‘MfS’ — Ministry of State Security. No, I don’t mean that the disguised policemen (in whom I think I see uncertainty) amount to the Stasi. No. But the uniform impersonalization makes for power of a mute and indiscriminate kind.

  • Scott Quincy

    When did we become this?  Is this all about the aftermath of 9/11?  Can’t most Americans see the absurdity of it?  Or are we too busy shopping and watching football to get angry at injustice?

    At the height of the sixties protests, the most American police officers would bring to the fight was water hoses, batons.  Look at these guys now.  It’s amazing how on the one hand they insult the protestors as a bunch of lazy bohemian brats, and then arm themselves to the teeth to oppose them.  Pepper spraying grandmothers and sitting kids.  Aiming tear gas canisters at the heads of war veterans.  The comments yesterday from Cal Davis’ Chancellor Katehi and the UC Davis Police Chief Spicuzza (campus police!) make it sound like these poor officers are in grave danger.  And all the crap about wanting to ensure the safety of the protestors.  Insanity.

    Peaceful protest.  Chanting and holding signs.  This is absolutely nothing other than peaceful assembly.  And it’s not even a large throng of protestors.  Can the American Dream no longer permit a few hundred people assembling to protest?  Even if you despise these people and their complaints, surely you can tolerate a little mild protest.

    The way this game is played, from Thoreau to Ghandi to MLK on down, is that protestors lock arms, march, sit down, and generally make nuisances of themselves.  Next, the police put handcuffs on them and take them to jail.  If the protestors are students, maybe they get expelled.  The end.  I’m only forty-four, but I know at least this much.  How in the hell did we get here?

    • Loisquick

      I protested the VN war in SF on many occasions, and by the ’70’s, the SFPD was using their SWAT team at Civic Center.  They were dressed in uniforms, had helmets with visors, covered their badges, and used their batons.  They didn’t have the canisters of pepper spray then, nor the bean bag projectiles – but in Berkeley they used tear gas (it even covered the Strawberry Creek pool/playground, where mothers and toddlers were affected by the tear gas.  Also, in SF the police mounted unit usually broke up the peace marches.  So, not a huge escalation now, just a lot more cameras and the blessed internet.
      I call this reaction by UCD occupiers to your attention:

  • Shirley Gregory

    Notice too that, in Egypt, the cops at least show their faces. In the US, they’re an anonymous, masked mass of force.

    • psychohistorian

      The riot gear I saw in Portland makes it so you cannot identify your police assailant for the purposes of filing a complaint.  

      This feature “an anonymous, masked mass of force” is brought to you by the Portland police chief that is being positioned by some factions to run for mayor.

    • LanceThruster

      I would add to that the fact that if you try to protest wearing a helmet or other body armor for protection, you’re considered “armed” or an offensive weapon or some such thing.


      Our law enforcement protective servants look more and more like Imperial Stormtroopers every day.

  • Shirley Gregory

    Notice too that, in Egypt, the cops at least show their faces. In the US, they’re an anonymous, masked mass of force.

  • marcsobel

    should have used the Bankster shot which I first saw at

  • Coyote757

    When the Blue Gloves were pointe out I immediatley realized I had seen those guys before.
    The Blue-Meanie-Leader

  • Nina

    Visually there is a similarity but I take issue with the suggestion that we do things” bigger and better in America.”  In Egypt they are killing people.  They have not done that here.   While there are similarities,  I think it’s important to acknowledge the vast differences as well. In Egypt people are risking their lives when they occupy.   They are being detained, murdered and tortured.  That is simply not happening here. 

  • Anonymous

    this vid is awesome! The Sound of Silence.

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