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"You’re Sexy, You’re Cute, Take Off that Riot Suit:” First-person Accounts of the Protests at the RNC Convention

Friend of the Mojo Sea is a for-real legit Public Radio reporter, and sent us this dispatch from the Twin Cities:

Our entire newsroom was covering the RNC (save the four reporters who were reserved for other news). I was part of the team covering events outside the convention center. In large part that meant protests and police. Protests took place everyday and while they began as a crowd listening to music or speakers they often became police watching protestors, protestors watching police and media watching them both.

As you may have read or heard, arrests were much higher in Saint Paul than they were in Denver. We had reporter teams at both events. Our impression is that the arrests had little to do with protestor behavior and a lot to do with police approach. At every protest I reported confrontations with police began with an action by police, such as police grabbing a protestor or reporter who was looking in his backpack. The expectation that protestors would be violent was strong. In Saint Paul the longtime sheriff has a reputation for his interest in garnering attention and making a show of force. In this instance he may also have wanted to take attention away from the federal corruption charges that had just been brought against his deputy sheriff and personal friend. This may have had something to do with the number of arrests.

I am not suggesting the plate glass windows and police windshields that some protestors smashed are the fault of overeager police. Nope. That’s the fault of stupid protestors being hostile, aggressive and stupid. But the vast majority of people arrested were released without charges being brought.

I mention all this because it’s one of those occasions where the way a particular media group covers something determines what message you receive. I was around many CNN and Fox reporters and some of what they reported and how they reported was lacking context and often misinformed. That said, the way police or protestors perceive the course of events is neither wrong nor right but usually different.

I thought I’d send you two of our stories. One of them is mine. It’s a play-by-play of the last protest as I saw it from within the crowd. One chant I didn’t get on tape was “you’re sexy, you’re cute, take off that riot suit.”

(http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/09/05/final_protest_rnc/?refid=0)

This is a first person account by another reporter of ours. He was swept up in arrests and when he read the complaint against the protestors the list of charges didn’t match what he and others witnessed.

(http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/09/05/rncprotest/)

I hope none of you read this and think I’m pushing a particular vantage point. I wanted to offer some insight into what I saw and reported at this national event. The local never disappears even when it’s national.

*Thanks Sea!!!*