An interesting account of the protests in San Francisco yesterday, by Alan Bostick.
I particularly like Debbie's comment at the end, impressed with the protestors' courage but also empathizing with the firefighters who had to carefully cut through metal pipes and chains without cutting any arms. I think a lot of people find it easy to demonize the cops and firefighters who try to keep order during American protests and demonstrations; I think it's important to remember that they're people too, and that many of them may even sympathize with the cause, and that most of them are not there to engage in brutality or to intentionally hurt anyone.
At the mini-march in San José last month, I was impressed with the police officers' handling of things. They didn't interfere with the march; their role seemed mostly limited to directing automotive traffic and keeping an eye on things. Afterward, I thanked one of them for helping out, and he smiled and said, "Our pleasure."
Of course, some people would say that allowing a march or demonstration to be herded by the cops is giving in to state authority. And there's the whole business about police authority being predicated on violence and the threat of violence; I still haven't resolved how I feel about that to my own satisfaction.
But despite any reservations along such lines, I'm still inclined to believe that most police officers are there because they want to do good, and the job can be awfully difficult at times.
I guess my real point is: don't let ideology dehumanize anyone. Not even the people who seem to be your enemies.