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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My day in Boston, part I

Looking for Al Qaeda SEALS

I didn't attend one breakfast, listen to one seminar, and definitely didn't go into the Fleet Center. What I'm reading from bloggers is exactly what I expected, which doesn't make me too happy. But, like I said, I expected the stargazing and note taking. Although it should cause people to judge the media a bit less harshly when it comes to reporting. We're all human and have the same foibles.

Let's establish two things, one no one gives a shit who you have lunch with, speeches you sit through, or where the media is. Two, people do care about real news.

What did I do with my day? Walk around Boston and Cambridge, do a little shopping, and oh yeah, saw how the security was and what delegates did.

My one bit of advice: GET OUT OF THE FUCKING HALL.

Because if you guys don't start telling people what happened, it's a waste of time. And don't come to New York and expect this level of handholding, because it won't exist.

Why am I irritated? Because I read the National Journal and found out only bloggers have decent wi-fi access. And it took the BBC to report how veteran political reporter Walter Means was laughed out of the room whem he said he was objective. Uh guys, that's something I want to read about. And not in the BBC, either.

If you guys hadn't been so impressed with your entry passes, you might have noted the insanely dangerous conditions for protest. The Protest Prison as the sign there called it, is one scary place. It was barely filled when the answer crowd did their apologia for the Palestinians, without noting that even the Palestinians are sick of the corruption of PA. If there is a large crowd, and things get wacky, people will get hurt. Oh yeah, the cops are perfectly poised to drop tear gas in that small area, with two narrow egress and entry points. If something goes wrong, people will get hurt, maybe trampled or killed. It is the most dangerous setting I have ever seen for a protest.

I was happy there wasn't a crowd there. Because the City of Boston was slick, they picked a place to limit protest and a place no delegate has to go to unless they want to. By setting up that pen, they limited protest better than a simple ban. By setting up a funnel to the protest prison they may have a secure area, they also have the potential for a bad riot.

There are a couple of things which you haven't seen in the news. First, the vibe in Boston, despite the complaining, is pretty chill. People are friendly, well as friendy as Boston gets, and despite the insane level of closures of the highways, the trains are still running effectively. They will make you get off at Haymarket, where you will have to walk two long blocks to where North Station is. In New York, the stations would never be so close.

I'll get deeper into my observations tomorrow night (I'm travelling early) and explain what I saw in detail, but the DNC couldn't have picked a friendlier environment for a convention. However, the security is pretty much a joke. There are all kinds of federal cops standing around buying brownies and checking out the girls. There are MP's at train stops, helicopters in the air, and when I looked up, an F-14 on patrol. It is not only fear-based overkill, it sucked in so many resources, it would make me nervous to take the train in Chicago or DC this week.

The abuse of security as fear meme is one that will have to be watched in New York. There are so many cops that you really have to wonder if they could be deployed elsewhere. When you see SWAT guys drinking coffee and chatting in groups, the whole security thing starts to seem stupid. Not that there aren't threats, but they shut down most of the local road net. Which is a major pain in the ass to the people who live here.

But, it's not as bad as they make it out to be, you can still move around the city with relative ease. But then, Bostonians like to be dramatic about such things.

posted by Steve @ 1:11:00 AM

1:11:00 AM

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