And no good police state is complete without its propaganda wing

I just about threw my computer across the room when I read this article:

Twitter got a lot of attention from the various press outlets today for its value in following yesterdays rampage by anarchists and the response by police.

One aspect of the social networking service is getting less mention: Its being used to coordinate the violence.

You read that right: Twitter was used to coordinate the violence. Now, let's set aside the absurdity of this notion that anarchist violence even registered on the same chart as police violence. Maybe they're confused by incriminating messages, since they usually, you know, have sources for their reports?

Well, there's this one:

sector 2 requesting backup at kellogg and wabasha, massive amounts of riot cops

And this one:

bringing in delegates at st peter and kellog WIDE OPEN

And this one:

Cops near Excel are searching people's bags for goggles and gas masks-- hide them!

Of course, none of that is violent - and I know there were no others because I monitored the feeds all week (I was a bit obsessive about it). But what are we to make of MPR's interesting standards for what qualifies as "violence"? Apparently, it's only ok to have a protest as long as:

So what's the point? Maybe MPR disagrees ever so slightly with Alix's analysis of this past week's debacle:

Were they protesting that they have no right to protest?

No, they were committing violence because they have no right to protest. If they had the right to protest, it wouldn't have been violence!

In order for protests and civil disobedience to work, the media has to capture and disseminate to the public the evidence of the system's brutality. It was the stories, photos, and newsreels of repression that made the struggles of Indian independence and African American civil rights successful. But if the media really is fully integrated into the authoritarian establishment, then we can expect the tactics of Ghandi and King to fail.

It's time for us to discard a decades-old tactic that has long since been neutralized by the establishment. We need a new strategy, and many of us need an altogether new goal. We need creativity, innovation, courage, focus, but most of all we need a passion for freedom that can guide our desperation. From now on, let's stop mourning the passing of the old order, however outraged and angered we are by it. Let us start building the organizations and structures that can move our work forward into new territory.

Read this article
Written on Sunday, September 07, 2008