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Commentary :: DNC : DNC : Organizing
Each Protester Owed $10,000
30 Jul 2004
Modified: 03:26:46 AM
Secretary Tom Ridge
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Tom,

We need to do some math. The latest stats put the DNC security tab at $50 million, more than half of the total number spent on the convention. Now that’s a lot of cash to spend on rent-a-cops, K-9 sniffing dogs, and boot wax. So, I have a proposition for you. But before we break down the numbers, I wanted to start by giving the Department of Homeland Security the benefit of the doubt (which incidentally, is a courtesy you never give anyone else) and I'll assume that a lot of the money was spent on law enforcements gear, and not bulk donut purchases.

Beyond that staggering $50 million security budget figure (out of $95 million for the whole convention), we don’t have much of a cost breakdown, so forgive me for doing a bit of ‘guess-timating’. So far, you have really only outlined two major security threats: (1) Terrorists organizations who have killed thousands of people using airplanes, chemical weapons and other WMD’s; and (2) ‘violent’ protesters whose worst offense seems to be that they ‘throw water balloons filled with urine’. (For the sake of this conversation, we’ll put aside the fact that this oft-repeated urine thing never gets backed up by any hard evidence).

In the absence of clear information of how much cash went to which threat, should we just divide it down the middle? Can we assume that $25 million went to protecting us from Al Qaeda, and the other $25 million went to protecting the public from crusty punks peeing into balloons? This is actually not so ludicrous a speculation when you actually take a look at the security measures that were put in place during the DNC, much of which seem aimed at protecting the public from the urine end of the ‘threat continuum’.

First of all, free speech zones that could double as internment camps don’t come cheap. It’s also not cheap to have hundreds of riot police standing by with the latest crowd control devices, not to mention those helicopters circling over the Boston Common during protests. And let’s not forget that a majority of the spending went to the massive overtime costs ($32 M total) being paid to local police, just like the one parked below my apartment window who has spent most of the last 3 days staring at girls passing by on bicycles. Now I don’t know if this guy succeeded in apprehending any terrorists, but he did succeed in repeatedly stopping and questioning a number of crusty punks who were walking down the street.

If you still don’t think the protesters rank so high on the security agenda, then get a load of this: "There are huge security precautions that were never, never even thought of prior to 9/11," said Lt. Kevin Foley, a Boston Police Department spokesman. "From terrorists to a biological attack to demonstrators to anarchists, you try to plan for everything."

So while we don’t know the exact figures, I don’t think it’s crazy to think they spent $25 million on dealing with the likes of me. After all, you guys spent $24 million in Miami, mostly on crowd control, and more recently $45 million on the G-8. So, let’s do some quick division:

$25,000,000.00 /
2,500 protesters*
= $10,000

(* and that’s a generous estimate of the number of protesters)

So what is the proper conclusion from this little math problem? Well, basically, you owe us some serious cash. That’s right. The fact is that the government spent $10,000 on each protester in order to keep us from throwing urine, and we didn’t throw a drop. Therefore, we should be compensated for the full amount.

In fact, Mr. Ridge, I am willing to sign an official contract with the department of homeland security for all future actions, too.

Dear Tom Ridge and Associates,

I,________, do solemnly swear that I will not hurl a single bag of urine during the next major protest I attend, in exchange for the total security costs – in cash - devoted to preventing me from hurling said bag of urine.

Sincerely, ______

So how about it Tom, will you give us our rightful due if we promise to keep our pee-pee to ourselves? After all, it won’t be hard for us to keep up our end of the bargain, considering the whole urine thing is largely a figment of the cops’ (apparently kinky) imagination. (Note: In order to keep the myth alive, the BPD did report to the press that yes! a single urine balloon was actually found during the DNC. Conveniently, it popped before it could be shown to anyone).

If that’s not good enough, Tom, then how about this: I will agree to not attend any large public protest of your choice, in exchange for the total costs spent on silencing my voice while I am there. That’s right, Tom. If the Department of Homeland Security pays me $10,000 per protest event, I promise I won’t even show up. I swear. You won’t have to spend all that money on donuts and bootwax…it can go straight to me. Now be warned, if you stop paying me, I’ll be forced to show up again, …and I’ll be sure to drink lots of liquids beforehand.

This is a win-win situation. You can silence any voices that disagree with the corporate agenda by crushing all forms of dissent. Meanwhile, I will be able to pay my rent, and spend more time putting together my zine on biodiesel.

Democracy is already losing out, so why don’t we just make the process more efficient and cut out the middle man. C’mon Tom, lets make a deal.

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