September 2nd, 2008

New Tilley Hat

RNC: Day 1, Part 2

Sen. Norm Coleman
Senator Norm Coleman
Xcel Center, Sept. 1, 2008CE

Senator Coleman didn't speak to the RNC on Monday, due to cancelation of most of the day's activity over concern about Gustav. He made an appearance, gladhanding his way through the partisan crowd, granting interviews (though I didn't leap in at the right moment) and meeting old friends.

Google had a few internet connections set up, and that attracted me and a teacher from Wisconsin who was a McCain Delegate. Molly Ahlborn (mp3, 4:47)

Outside, it was a different story. The RNC's bunker mentality shielded it from the outside world. Fox News was all over the place, and in a huge display just outside one of the main metal-detector banks. Music blared from loudspeakers, chosen by the RNC. (The mc running the board couldn't grant an interview, and none of the security personnel were allowed to speak on the record to the press.) It was hard to leave. You could step outside, but then you met a high fence completely encircling the convention center. And then another one outside that.

Protestors outside the RNC
Protestors outside the RNC
Note that they are marching between security fences
Sept. 1, 2008CE

And it was hard to get to the protest marches. They were completely encircled inside and out. I met with a few people outside the chanters.

Ben Kastan of VoteSmart.org, a non-partisan group (mp3, 2:08).

Timmy Payne (I'm guessing on the spelling of the last name) an individual protestor who had also protested at the DNC. He was unable to get back to the main body of marchers (mp3, 3:08).

Crowd Control at the RNC
Crowd Control at the RNC
Note that we're looking at riot police facing out
with more police near the protestors than will fit in the street.
Sept. 1, 2008CE

A first-hand account of one group of disruptive protestors by National Security Reporter Chris Strohm of the National Journal and Congress Daily. (Today's STrib reported 284 arrests as of midnight.) (mp3, 8:55).

More to come. Mideast politics! Partisan reporters! Boats on the Mississippi!
New Tilley Hat

RNC: Day 1, Part 3: A Tale of Two Cities

Forgive the long post. I want to finish up with Monday before Wednesday rolls around.

Inside

Hurricane Information Center
Hurricane Information Center
Xcel Energy Center, site of the RNC
Sept. 1, 2008CE

Republicans care. They understand that Bush and Cheney are where they need to be and can't address the party faithful. They are truly concerned about the people of the Gulf Coast.

Outside

Crowd Control
Crowd Control outside the Republican National Convention
Line of police facing away from the protestors with many others facing inward
Sept. 1, 2008CE

I talked to a lot of convention staffers and security people. None of them wanted to be on the record, but they were friendly and often chatted off the record. Everyone I talked to -- from t-shirted security to riot-armored police -- were unfailingly polite and professional. Indeed, everyone I talked to about the police describe them as such, using terms like "restrained".

I would agree with Glenn Greenwald that St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be -- and I lived near West Point. Still, while the police presence may be out of proportion to the actual problems caused by a few protestors, that decision is not made on the local level, and it's not made by any one person in gear. On the individual level, the police (from many jurisdictions around the country) handled themselves well.

There were some problems, such as this video of a flower-bearing woman getting pepper-sprayed. This story isn't over.

It was hard to get out of the RNC: Double fences surrounded the entire complex, and only a few checkpoints served to let people in and out. It was easier getting in than to get out. Similarly, it was hard to join the protestors. The police completely surrounded the marchers for several hours. If you left, you couldn't get back in, as I reported yesterday. I continue with that range of interviews on the streets of St. Paul, outside the ring of riot police.

Karmela Sabri, with her father, holding a sign saying "Save the Palestinian Children".

Bruce Moffat, who wanted to join the marchers but was forced to wait on the street before returning to his protest boat anchored (with permit) nearby.

I did get a riot policeman to chuckle. The inner ring of police and the outer ring made getting into Mickey's Diner impossible. "Too bad," I said when the policeman denied my request to go through the lines, "it's a good diner."

Mickey's Diner
Mickey's Diner, A St. Paul landmark
Unavailable Sept. 1, 2008CE

Inside

Uncle Sam
A hydrated Uncle Sam
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Sept. 1, 2008CE

Wayne Hessler of The Otto Show, a "citizen correspondent" who is conservative and likes picking stories to support his viewpoint.

Fabian Cohen of The Israel Project. A Jewish bipartisan multinational group who want to influence Democrats and Republicans alike.

What's the best way to end the day at a Republican gathering? With prayer.

Minyan at RNC
The minyan that gathered to daven before sunset
(missing one who didn't want to be photographed)
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 1 Elul 5768