Just like Denver last week, my hometown is now on the armed camp of the national stage. It seems that nobody here is from here. I went downtown after the big protest march just to look around. It was in the high 80s and that’s pretty warm for us northerners. I wasn’t there for the big march, but I did get to watch a fun little low-key interplay last night. As I was walking around, I noticed this group of about 75 officers march out of the convention zone and over to the corner of Kellog and St. Peter.
I love the flourish-like zip-tie handcuffs on these dudes (and dudettes, there were quite a few female troops in the ranks as well). Here’s the set up, the officers marched out to this corner and just stood there for at least fifteen minutes. As far as I can tell, they were there to guard the Crown Plaza Hotel — as the evening wore on, several large motorcades came and went from the hotel. Boy, did these guys draw attention to themselves!
Sure as shoot, the code pink protesters that were on the St. Peter bridge hanging their banners for the benefit of the coast guard gunboats patrolling the Mississippi found out about it and came up the corner with their megaphone and banners. It was pretty entertaining, over a hundred police officers and several dozen photographers watched about ten loud protesters dance in the street.
Did I say a lot of police? I guess after the afternoon teargassing event, they weren’t taking chances. Now with only ten protesters, this seems ridiculous, but a lot of things didn’t happen. The 50,000 protest march of less than 10,000 went through town and then over the St. Peter bridge to Harriet Island (a festival ground across the Mississippi). President Bush was going to be speaking, but didn’t come to town because of the Hurricane. But the cops were still playing by the old schedule. I would imagine that Bush was going to be at the Crown Plaza (the Texas delegation was staying there) and security was expecting 50,000 protesters across the bridge (which the city had barricaded with four old dump trucks). In addition to the re-enforcements, the cops in the front row now have tear-gas launchers — note the green canisters on their chests.
OK, so back to the pictures. This guy had the oddest little sign he kept standing and holding at the police. I never figured out what it said. Hand-hold shooting by street-light requires a fuzzy-high ISO. Note to the protesters, I know it’s too much to ask for you to take a bath, but please don’t sing. I commented on the off-key singing to another photographer and he said that he offered a cop $20 to shoot the singer :). The cops were actually pleasant. I stepped behind them to take this picture and one of them looked over his shoulder at me. I said “I’m just taking pictures, I don’t want to surprise you”, to which he replied, “No, you don’t” and smiled.
After an hour of dancing and (ugh) singing, the protesters got bored and the one with a megaphone declared “let’s go this way” and they danced off. Remember the guy with the little sign? He stuck around for his 15 minutes. I’m glad he did, this was my favorite picture of the night.
Thanks to the protesters for an evening’s entertainment, but thanks especially to the cops for remaining calm and not minding us damn photographers walking all around them. It was still near 80 degrees out and I was warm wearing a t-shirt, I can’t imagine wearing riot gear.