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Commentary :: DNC
Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
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. 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? 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.
Ridge.jpg
Each Protester Owed $10,000
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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Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000
30 Jul 2004
I can't afford healthcare for my family, but at least our elected representatives could feel safe in their little party this week.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000
30 Jul 2004
Hahahaha! Excellent! A genuinely funny bit of ridicule aimed at something genuinely ridiculous.

The only problem I can see is that you could end up in a price war.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
Perhaps if you "protesters" had put on a good show, you would have earned your $10,000.00. Instead, you treated us to a laughable display of gutlessness and lack of conviction. How was it that all of the major "alternative" groups were claiming that "TENS OF THOUSANDS" of protesters would descend upon Boston only to come up with fewer than 500 protesters on the last day of the event? Then, when confronted by cops in Ninja suits, you all cowered in fear and ran away!! You couldn't even get arrested properly!! Six arrests?? That's civil disobedience? The only thing accomplished by the six arrests is that the courts will be $150.00 richer per arrestee in court costs. Do us all a favor. The next time that you think about coming to Boston, either put on a better show or stay away.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
Excellent satire, and a great way to point out the money being wasted. Well done.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
since when is voicing dissent about putting on a show? since when is getting arrested a badge of honor? I thought we were beyond those bland consumerist dichotomies..... making the police state quiver with fear and reveal the inherent stupidity of the system, with as few arrests and beatings as possible seems like a victory to me.

Oh, and rockin' letter, JP!!
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
hasn't it always been about a putting on a show myshele? I expected more...much much more. Oh what a disappointment.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
thats a fat sum of money. what better way to arm our cops more and more till they become the equivelent of the german gustapo or storm troopers without anyone questioning.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
30 Jul 2004
Maybe if you filthy cocksuckers bathed once and while and had jobs, we wouldn't have to spend so much money on security....VOTE BUSH !!!!!
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
31 Jul 2004
maybe if there were decent jobs in our present ecomony. the last time that security was ignored planes flew into buildings. most of the filthy cocksuckers are from bush descent.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
31 Jul 2004
It's funny how the US "Authorities" can spend so many dollars on THIS internal threat to security while they handle the far right/militias with kid gloves. Y'know, your government should have been carpet bombing a few of your own states after the McVeigh bombing if we are to draw a comparison to 911.
Thanks for the big fat check
03 Aug 2004
As a cop's wife, keep on coming out to protest. Because the ot from your protests is the only we can afford our health care on civil servant pay.

Don't want to waste your tax dollars? Too late. Should of thought of that before getting out of hand before. They will now show to much of a presence to keep the peace instead of react to your exploits.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
03 Aug 2004
Another example of a smug middle classed over "educated" idiot. I have worked as a police officer for 10 years and an RRT (the storm troopers in riot gear as you liberal jerkoffs know us) for close to 8. I have seen many things from rioters including their childish little urine bombs. Incidentally, is the throwing of bodily fluids at other human beings one of your protected free speaches? What exactly are you all trying to say by this, we need more porto johns? In fact there were no fewer than two of your comrades busted with urine bombs at the DNC that I personnaly know of. One had the misfortune of the balloon spilling its contents on himself (with assistance from the Boston police officer who encountered him). Hey, after all it's his urine right, why should someone else have to wear it. As for the cost of police protection to the city, your "peaceful" protests around the country have dictated what level of law enforcement response is necessary. It's better to have too many police than too few. Kudos to my brothers who made the DNC an uneventful event where the middleclass brats have nothing better to complain about than "stolen bandanas" and "mis-spent" tax dollars. Hey, on that tax dollars idea, have you paid your recently? What about that student loan? Surely you plan on paying off that ultra liberal education securred with government assisted loans. Now that's a waste of tax money. In summation, get a job and if you want to support free speech, thank a soldier. After all free speech was securred by soldiers not liberal college professers in tweed jackets or their students.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
03 Aug 2004
To the 'cop' above: The urine myth is based upon hearsay. The fact that you say you ‘personally know of’ these incidences exactly the point. Where did you hear it from? Was it ever proven? Has any evidence other than officers' word ever been presented anywhere? The same 'urine' claim was made in Miami, and the police authoritatively held up bottles filled with ‘a yellowish liquid’ (wrapped in bandanas) in front of the TV cameras as 'proof'. It took about a second to recognize what they were holding up, as any idiot with any experience in crowd control would know that protesters routinely carry the combination of VINEGAR and BANDANAS to protect themselves (and others) from the effects of teargas. Could they not smell the difference between Vinegar and Urine? Were they lying outright, or were they really that clueless?

Whatever the case was, the fact that the police say these things means nothing to the public at large, as these claims consistently fall apart under close scrutiny. A great example from the DNC was the whole 'Molotov cocktail' fiasco in which the police publicly applauded themselves in front of the media for protecting the public from incendiary device. We now know it was over some kid's homemade papier-mache 'stub and hook' for a crappy pirate costume. BPD to the rescue! The New York times actually made fun of the BPD for reacting to such a cartoonish item - and then trying to defend their actions. Nevertheless, many police officers like yourself are convinced psychologically that those officers really did stop some criminal with a 'hoax device'! Again, the fact that police believe each other means nothing. The fact remains, these claims are often repeated, but never proven.
If you don’t have the courage to admit this based upon your own first-hand experience, then studies have repeatedly shown that police perjury is routine, and we are not talking in front of the media...but while testifying under oath in a court of law. (i.e the same law which police are supposed to uphold). “Many judges who listen to or review police testimony on a regular basis privately agree with Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who publicly stated: ‘It is an open secret long shared by prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges that perjury is widespread among law enforcement officers’… Or, as Judge Irving Younger explained, ‘Every lawyer who practices in the criminal courts knows that police perjury is commonplace.’ (Testimony before House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, 1998)
This deals with your second point regarding protester violence. Forensic evidence has also shown consistently that in instances where 'riots' broke out during mass protests in the US (including Seattle), violence was initiated by overzealous police officers attacking people in the absence of any acts of violence by protesters. The increased availability of such forensic evidence is why there was a 0% conviction rate of protesters arrested during the recent Miami/FTAA, where 283 people were arrested. Police officers stated under oath that they were charged and attacked by protesters, but under the scrutiny of the courtroom however, the video evidence proved that police claims were simply false. Simply put, they were lying under oath. The fact that police go home and tell everyone a different story means nothing. The fact that you believe that these urban legends generated by police are really true, also means nothing.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
04 Aug 2004
Great point. Humorous and well-written.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
10 Aug 2004
It is totally disgusting that the BPD set up a concentration camp holdiong pen as the "free speech zone." Why even bother calling this a democracy anymore? When will everyone wake up to the fact that we live in a "Police State?" George W Bush is just the latest is the latest in the series of rightwing selfserving wackos to trample on the US Constitution. Wealth has its privledges, but its about time that wealthy's surrogates - the police abuses come to an end.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
13 Aug 2004
To: "Just the Facts, Ma'am",

The urine bombs I spoke of were in fact urine bombs. I saw them in person with my own two eyes and smelled them with my own nose. They certainly weren't vinegar, which has a smell very similar to a douchebag much like your self. You take offense to "groundless" claims of such things as violence and urine bombs by your cronies, yet profess that purgury is "commonplace" and cite a judge to lend credence to your claim. In ten years of law enforcement, I've never purgered myself or known any others to purger themself. I'm not saying it hasn't happened, just as there are priests who violate children there are officers who violate their oath. However, it is the exception, not the norm.

As for forensic evidence showing that police are always to blame for riots breaking out, do you hear yourself before you commit to text your thoughts? Because that one is just plain stupid. Your closed minded ignorance has come gleeming through. I applaud the right to free speech but please limit ramblings of morons
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
17 Aug 2004
To A Cop:

I have been in a number of anti-war protests, smaller demonstrations and FTAA in Miami. There have been times when I have witnessed more mellow police officers and many times when I have encountered belligerent, charged-up officers making angry remarks, intimidating, pushing, beating, throwing tear gas, firing upon and mistreating citizens. I have seen protesters march, hold up signs, sing songs, and chant (sometimes, admittedly the chants are provocative: "This is what Democracy looks like...That is what police state looks like," "Shame on You", etc. Some protesters are angry, just as the police are, but I have never seen a protester react the police have.

Now, that is my own testimony just as you have said yours. And Just the Facts is right, it does not matter when it is just my word against yours. With as much confidence as you can claim the officers who lie are the exception, I claim protesters who become violent are also the exception -- and again, I have never witnessed this in all my protesting.

We do not protest to pick fights with police, harm innocent people walking in the street, rape, pillage or create hell on earth. We protest because there is something wrong in this country and we want to bring public attention to numerous problems: poor labor market, poor health care, poor education systems, threats to reproductive rights, the trashing of our environment or rape of natural resources, inequality, government disception, war-mongering, corporate corruption, corporate control of power, information, etc,...there are so many. We voice our opinions when there are large events that perpeuate some of those problems or are symbolic of others. Sometimes we aim to disrupt meetings that could endanger millions of lives. But mostly we want to make sure voices of dissent are represented and policy-makers know what people who are not Washington economists or CEO's think.

Whether or not urine balloons are the reason we are spending sooo much money on security, the fact is we need to rethink priorities. And we need to think about how we are pitted against each other so that some of us might be a little better off (a police officer's has access to health care as the "wife" mentioned), most of us are worse off (think of all those who can't afford health care) and a small number of people are really sitting pretty (picture bush with cowboy hat on ranch).

Finally, I have observed that though there are a lot of angry feelings on both sides of the police issue, only "Cop" has done the name-calling: idiot, moron, brat, and my favorite, douchebag. "Just the Facts" has claimed cops lie using discrepency between evidence and words and has implied cops may not have a keen sense of smell, sarcasm. The writer of the article implied the fixation on urine bombs is kinky. Other than that, only the cop has made personal attacks and thrown out names. For me, this simple observation indicates how irrationally angry the cop may be. It is much easier to stereotype your opponent and disparage them than to listen and have a dialogue.
'Joe Protester' Strikes Again?
20 Aug 2004
Found this on NYC Indymedia. The next jetter is not to Tom Ridge, but to the good folks over at the FBI. Apparently, the FBI has not been holding up their side of the 'Relationship'.

http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/101907/index.php
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
01 Sep 2004
To Observer: There is one thing that you don't seem to get. That is that the cops were not there because of you or the urine bags. They were there to harden the target against potential terrorists. We could really care less about you protesters and what you have to say - so long as you stay non-violent and do not harm either personal or public property, you can act as foolishly as you wish. However, the presence of your brothers in New York is making the job of defending against terrorists that much more difficult. If the great unwashed were not causing trouble in the streets, the cops could spend more time providing anti-terrorist security. If you think that terrorism does not exist I refer you to the 1st WTC bombing, Oklahoma City, and of course September 11 - unless of course you have forgotten or worse that you believe we deserved it. So say what you want, do what you do, smell as you wish to smell. Just remember one thing...Just because you have a RIGHT to do something does not mean that it is RIGHT to do it.
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
03 Sep 2005
To: Marcellino

Your rather odd attempts at name calling aside, the claims you make are simply not supported by the evidence. Contrary to the PR disseminated by police and Homeland Security officials, THE THREAT OF TERRORISM DOES NOT EXPLAIN THESE MASSIVE SECURITY OPERATIONS, which in practice, are overwhelmingly aimed at peaceful crowds of people. CROWD CONTROL IS A MAJOR FOCUS OF THESE OPERATIONS.

For example:

(1)During the FTAA in Miami, $24 million was spent purely for security operations, where there was simply no credible terrorist threat. (Unless someone wants to make the absurd argument that Al-Qaeda lists trade agreements among its concerns, especially ones that deal only with countries in the Americas - and none from the Middle East!). A huge portion of this security budget was spent on on thousands of new riot uniforms, shields and weapons, and brand new Armored Personnel Carriers. That stuff has little relevence to combatting terrorism. It's all about crowd control. Also, just look at any photos of the FTAA. Do these guys look ready for terrorist attack, or protesters. You tell me.

Source: http://www.ftaaimc.org/en/2003/11/2130.shtml

(2) During the DNC in Boston, the large military presence on the streets was only there to guard us against terrorism, right? After all, the Posse Comitatus act keeps the government from deploying the military in civil policing, right? Wrong. And Wrong. Check out this revealing article written by the National Gaurd itself:

"Soldiers trained for a week with state police to prepare for the DNC, learning civil disturbance techniques [i.e. crowd control] ... 'Our biggest concern going into the convention was the number of protesters estimated'… the two engineer battalions focused on riots…They started from the ground up, training first on basic moves with the police baton and riot shields, then building to full formations… The state police showed them how to handle protesters handcuffed together and gave a demonstration on the effects of pepper spray… Now the systems and techniques used in Massachusetts will be shared with the New York National Guard in preparation for the Republican National Convention."

Source: http://www.ngb.army.mil/news/story.asp?id=1164

So, still think it's all about terrorism? The evidence shows that crowd control is actually a pretty major focus of these operations. I agree with you when you argue that the police and military should be spending their time dealing with real terrorist threats, not protesters. That's actually our whole point. Currently, these security procedures are aimed at suppressing dissent, and not protecting us from real threats. That's criminal, if you ask me.

I imagine this might be a bit hard to accept when you are so used to thinking a particular way, or have a habit of trusting certain public officials for your information, but I would suggest looking more critically into these issues.

What you find may surprise you.

Good luck! JPT
Re: Each Protester Owed $10,000 by Homeland Security
03 Sep 2005
Marcelliano.

You said-"Just because you have a RIGHT to do something does not mean that it is RIGHT to do it."

Whuh? You smokin crack? Are you questioning whether it is RIGHT to exercise your basic rights to free speech? Y'know, the founding fathers didn't put the rights to free speech and assembly in the 2nd amendment, or the 6th amendment, or the 512th amendment. They made it the FIRST AMENDMENT. You think that was some sort of accident? Jefferson and Franklin were throwing darts and that's just the one they happened to hit?

C'mon dude. You are smarter than that. Haven't you ever heard the phrase: "Rights are like a muscle, if you don't exercise them, they get weaker!" The regular exercise of these rights is what keeps a democracy healthy. If people stop, then American Democracy begins to get flabby and full of cholesterol.

Get it?

Let me explain. Despite the pretty language of the constitutions, all the rights we have were not granted by god, or even by nature, they were FOUGHT FOR BY PEOPLE. Undoubtedly, we DESERVE these rights as a result of being human, or by being 'god's creatures', but simply deserving rights did not make them a reality. Just look at slaves in the south. Or women. Where were their inalienable, god-given rights? They FOUGHT for them, using the tools of rebellion, protest, direct action, and civil disobedience. THAT is American history. THAT is Democracy. THAT is what those kids are doing during those protests.

Now you get it?

And remember, just because your rights are written on a piece of paper somewhere does not mean they will be there when you need them - you need to KEEP fighting for them. So, in fact, you should be thanking those kids for being out there. They are doing the hard work for you. Keeping democracy healthy FOR YOU.

You should thank them.
Or better yet, go join them.
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beach
30 May 2006
Pretty nice site, wants to see much more on it! :)
alhocogol
03 Jun 2006
Nice site... Cool guestbook...