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News ::
Riots Sweep Downtown after the Game (english)
17 Oct 2003
Modified: 19 Oct 2003
Intoxicated college students poured out of bars surrounding the BU area and took to the streets after the Redsox lost the American League Championship yesterday. Hundreds of police attempted to disperse the crowd, which threw bottles at riot cops and broke the windows of an expensive hotel.
It was the eighth inning when my friend first said to me, "Hey, you wanna go down to watch the riot?"
We all laughed, and bit our fingernails as we watched the final innings of the tragic game.
In the end, we decided that we would go down to Kenmore Square to see what was brewing, if for nothing else than to study the cop's tactics and learn what we could for future actions.
We were surprised at what we found. Kenmore Square was flooded with twenty-somethings at varying stages of intoxication. Fights were breaking out, and the crowd was milling in the streets. Traffic was at a standstill.
We spotted our first patch of pigs standing outside Bertuccis. (Later, we noted that even after the riot moved elsewhere, about 150 riot cops remained to protect Bertuccis, McDonalds, and Pizzaria Uno.)
These cops looked very familiar. They had the same black-on-black badges as the sketchy cops from the March 13th Peace Protest. This time, though, they were decked out in full riot gear.
They weren't alone. I estimate about 200 Motorcycle cops, and probably 300 or so Riot Cops. Some with those 2.5-ft. fiberglass batons, others with those 3-foot wooden riot sticks. (I HATE those things!) Finally, there were about 8 cops on horseback, using hearding tactics to move the crowd along.
We regretted not bringing a camera as the scene began to unfold. The pigs used a fire truck and a thick police line to push the crowd down onto Commonwealth Ave, where they could contain them more easily. Chants of YANKEES SUCK! and FUCK THE YANKEES were breaking out left and right. With a little bit of outside agitation, COPS ARE YANKEES started up here and there. It was a sound for sore ears.
No real violence had broken out yet, and the situation only escalated when a few rioters started pushing over newspaper stands. I witnessed one particularly large pig tell one of these rioters to "Go the fuck home." But little else was done.
The cops kept pushing the crowd down Commonwealth ave towards the Mass Ave overpass. About 1000 yards down Com Ave, the crowd stopped and held its ground. The cops stopped too, and stood about 30 yards back from the crowd. A few bolder (or drunker) folks went out into the street and did cartwheels. Others mooned the police. Here is where any direct resistance took place. I saw a few bottles thrown at the copline, the perpetrators easily melting back into the crowd.
At this point, a group was assembled in the grassy area that divides Commonwealth ave. The area was fenced in, but everyone saw the cops coming when they tried to clear it and I didn't see any arrests. Just as we were getting out of there, the motorcycle cops whipped around the other side and went down Com Ave to cut the rioters off after the overpass.
The fascinating thing was this: the cops WEREN'T COVERING THEIR ASS!
They kept pushing the crowd farther and farther down Mass Ave but there were no cops behind the main line, and had the crowd been an organized mass of resistance rather than a drunken riot, it would have been easy to outflank the popos and wreak some serious havoc.
Two windows were broken outside an expensive hotel just before the cops moved the crowd down near the Mass Ave overpass. Here, the cops succeeded in splitting the crowd in two, with half heading towards Newbury Street and the other half continuing down Com Ave.
"LET'S GO TO NEWBURY STREET! WHO WANTS SOME NEW JEANS??!!"
But at this point the cops had won. With the crowd divided, they easily pushed us down Comm Ave, thinning us out until there was no more than pockets here and there.
The night showed that Boston is clearly capable of rioting, and Boston Police are not very adept at controlling riots. Perhaps in the future we can riot about something slightly more important, say, when the Democratic National Convention comes to town?

Solidarity,
the Sturdy Squirrel
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Comments

I am puzzled (english)
17 Oct 2003
I am rather puzzled about the above piece. I can understand wanting to get a sense of police tactics for future protests, but the rest of it mystifies me. Too many of us anarchists and other radicals have a tendency to romanticize riots. This makes a certain amount of sense when the rioters are largely poor and people of color, lashing out against police brutality, racism the daily grind of poverty. Even then though, it is a pre-political act, not a full-fledged rebellion. Effective resistance requires organizing, not sporadic eruptions. Romanticizing a riot by a bunch of drunk, privileged twenty-somethings who are mad because of the outcome of a baseball game is just plain bizarre though. While I would like to see the police as an institution abolished, in this case I am perfectly happy that there was someone around to control this bunch of yahoos from going around wrecking property, much of which would not have belonged to big corporations, but ordinary working people who probably can't afford to have their car windows smashed in. What this whole mess is indicative of is not a need for police so much as the way we have been socialized under our authoritarian social system so that many of us have no self-discipline but need this discipline imposed from without. If we are going to work successfully for radical social change, we need to teach ourselves self-discipline. We should not be cheering on a bunch of people who have none and are being disruptive for no good cause (as opposed to being disruptive for a good cause). We should understand the causes of riots and work to organize people around legitimat grievances (of which the Red Sox loosing is not one), but romanticizing riots will only hinder us.
Partially Agree (english)
17 Oct 2003
I don't believe an effective resistance needs to be organized, especially if your goal is the abolution of government. However, I agree that a bunch of drunken individuals upset about losing a baseball game is not an example of revolutionary zeal. If anything, it is an example of selfish, bratty, privilaged "we're above the law because our daddies can bail us out" bull shit.

You have a point about police tactics, though. It's always useful to observe the police and how they operate.
i agree (and I wrote this) (english)
17 Oct 2003
I wasn't trying to romanticize anything. Didn't you read the end of the article, where I wonder why we can't riot when something important happens?

I agree that senseless violence is foolish, and even acts of corporate window liberation need to be well thought out ahead of time, to ensure that they will have the desired effect. (i.e. did you know that Starbucks now insures their windows... it costs them nothing.)

The purpose of the article was to do nothing more than alert people of what had happened. Indymedia should be a general news sevice as well as a giant activist listserve. I was merely providing my account of what had happened with a small amount of analysis and commentary.

In solidarity,
the Squirrel
you seemed sympathetic to the rioters (english)
18 Oct 2003
I did see the part where you wished folks were rioting about something important, but you seemed to be sympathetic to the rioters in the tone of your article. That you called the police a dehumanizing name like "pigs" while saying nothing similar about the rioters reinforced this.

(As an aside, I think it is really inappopriate for radicals to use the same sort of dehumanizing language (like calling cops "pigs") as the elite and other oppressors deploy against those they wish to attack. It puts us in danger of falling into the same trap of trying to kill people because they belong to some category of persons. While the police as an institution are bad, that doesn't mean they are all bad people. That is, in fact, the point of a radical critique--that it's not bad people who we need to vote out of office who are the problem, but a bad system that often puts pressures on good people that lead them to do bad things. Not that the police can't be cruel and racist. But they are pawns, who socialized to act like that by their training, while they lead incredibly stressful lives--they have really high rates of suicide, divorce, drug addiction, etc. We should oppose their actions, but we should also have some pity for them. We should also recognize that people can change--it is possible for even cops to become radicals. If we call them "pigs" and deny their humanity, we deny this possibility.)

On the question of organizing, well, I suppose we could debate that endlessly, but I'll make a few points anyway. There is a difference between the externally imposed organization that authoritarians of all stripes--capitalists, Leninists, fascists--favor and the self-organization that radicals (anarchists, feminists, pacifists) try to facilitate. The latter is what I was advocating. It goes along with learning to exercise self-discipline (reflecting on our own desires and actions, and restraining our impulses when necessary; generally developing the strength of our characters) as opposed to being socialized to need externally imposed discipline, whether of the riot cop variety or the more subtle forms inculcated by the school. Anarchy is not chaos--it is a society founded, in so far as possible, on self-organization and self-discipline (although there will likely be the occasional need to coerce people who have no self-discipline and try to harm others as a result). If we want to create that sort of society, we have to start by building the new world in the shell of the old, including learning self-discipline and self-organization in the here and now--and not protesting or rioting based merely on fired up passions. Not that those passions are necessarily bad, but we need to teach ourselves how to channel them constructively instead of acting without self-reflection.
hmmm (english)
18 Oct 2003
After completely my last posting, I realized it may seem a bit preachy and moralistic, which was not my intent. I was just trying to draw some attention to important issues.

And my apologies to Sturdy Squirrel for mis-reading your original posting.
A pointless riot (english)
19 Oct 2003
I was on the scene with a video camera to document the events near Fenway. First of all, there was absolutely no reason the situation needed to escalate to an all-out riot. There was no cause and no order. While some of the actions of the angry fans were out of line, the response of the police often included unnessasary force against innocent bystanders, including unaware pedestrians and myself. FOr anyone who actively involved, this is not an event to be proud of. What happened was pointless and both the Boston Police and the angry crowds should have taken one second to think about what was going on. No baseball game is worth the horrors I witness that night. For a full article as well as video footage and photos, go to www.angelfire.com/indie/rhmproductions
See also:
http://www.angelfire.com/indie/rhmproductions