The event I went to was a peaceful march from the State Capitol to the Xcel Center and back. But things haven’t been so peaceful all day in St. Paul. The Pioneer Press has a good overview of the various skirmishes between police and protesters. It seems the 10,000 or so marchers were mostly peaceful, but some anarchist groups (for lack of a better description) have been causing mayhem downtown (breaking windows, slashing tires, blockading streets) and police are rightly moving in to stop them (tear gas and rubber bullets). The show of force is a little disturbing, but so is hurling bricks at cops. (It’s unclear at this point what’s rumor and what’s reality, so take what you hear with a grain of salt. At any rate, there was enough documenting going on that any police brutality should certainly come to light.)
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the protesters were marching for today (like the people with the “9/11 was an inside job” signs or the anarchists), I do agree with some of it. But most of all I was out there watching and supporting their right to protest. No one could have done that at the Olympics in Beijing two weeks ago. As many signs indicated, protest is patriotic (flinging bleach on delegates, not so much).
I said as much in an interview I did with some online video outlet (I think he said HDTV), while I tried to give my reactions and not sound like an idiot. I think the longer the talked the dumber I sounded.
I’m still trying to formulate my thoughts on the whole experience. It’s weird. Part of me agrees wholeheartedly and wants to shake my fist and stop the war, but then part of me brings up practical questions. Peace isn’t very practical. I’m in the midst of reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw right now, and it’s very timely.
For a while this morning I was twittering clever protest sign ideas. I was partly joking and partly being serious. I think my problem with protest signs was that it’s so hard to condense your point to a slogan that can fit on a sign. I had plenty of things to say, but I couldn’t say them without confusing people or sounding like an idiot. “Jesus loves Osama Bin Laden” seemed like a great protest sign, but it raises all sorts of questions that couldn’t be answered by a sign. I think my favorite suggested slogan was “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” That very much sums up my political and spiritual beliefs (the already/not yet of the Christian faith, this world is not my home, while I believe I have salvation the world is still messed up and we’re still searching for justice, hope, peace, grace, etc.). I love that song.
Anyway, still processing it all.