During the RNC, soullessness on our streets

A lanky twenty-something male with his wrists in zip ties makes a feeble attempt of fleeing the scene of his âÄî and about 50 othersâÄô âÄî arrest. He lunges roughly six feet before a cop in full riot gear grabs him by the scruff of the neck and slams him into the back of a police van before dropping him to the ground. While the copâÄôs foot is on the arresteeâÄôs neck another officer ties something over his face and I can barely contain my tears. âÄúThank you officer, may I have another?âÄù a man says amid a crowd of Republican National Convention delegates behind me. The forty-something man is wearing a suit that could have paid for a semester of my tuition and heâÄôs eagerly waiting to indulge another willing audience with his zinger. Some delegates and arrestees at the scene were so close in age that they might have gone to school together. Regardless, on Wednesday night in downtown Minneapolis, it was clear they were not equals. The arrestees came from the Rage Against the Machine concert at the Target Center and marched through the streets. By the time they reached the intersection of Second Avenue and Seventh Street, they had at least 75 people left, one observer estimated. The witness told of a handful of reporters how concert-goers walked the wrong way on a one-way street and were met by battalions of riot police. The vans and golf carts full of police on different intersections lined up while officers posted themselves on nearby rooftops. A few had their guns âÄî full of tear gas canisters or what the police throughout the week called âÄúless lethal projectilesâÄù âÄî drawn and pointing into the crowd. Later in the week I heard reports from friends and colleagues of riot police throwing flash grenades at demonstrators merely sitting in the street in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Police pepper-sprayed members of the media âÄî including several Minnesota Daily reporters and photographers âÄî who brandished their press badges and emphatically repeated âÄúIâÄôm with the press!âÄù Never mind the fact that taxpayers pay these same officers to protect them and keep order in their streets. I promised this column wouldnâÄôt be about police brutality. Still, look at the actions of those involved with the RNC this week and perhaps youâÄôll wonder what kind of person can deliver such violence against another human being. In an attempt to shield the RNC delegates from the protests on all levels, ranging from property destruction to reasonable dissent, think about what we gave up last week in our cities and how such a so-called civilized democratic gathering could lead itself to such soullessness in our streets. Indeed, the RNC represented a lack of humanity in this world. Emma Carew is an editorial board member. Please send comments to [email protected]