Scenes From a Crackdown


Radley Balko
Reason
October 5, 2009

[efoods]Having lived in the Washington, D.C. area for the better part of the last 10 years, I’ve attended my share of protests, though, again as a resident of the Beltway, I’ve spent far more time trying to avoid them and the traffic nightmares they spawn. Among the various classes of protesters—pro-lifers, environmentalists, anti-war activists, and now Tea Partiers—the most destructive are easily the anti-globalization/anarchist protesters. So when police clashed with anti-globalization protesters last weekend in Pittsburgh, one could assume that most altercations represented justified police responses to overzealous protesters.

But a number of disturbing images, videos, and witness accounts have come out of Pittsburgh, as well as from similar high-stakes political events in recent years, that reveal the disquieting ease with which authorities are willing to crush dissent—and at the very sorts of events where the right to dissent is the entire purpose of protecting free speech. That is, events where influential policymakers meet to make high-level decisions with far-reaching consequences.

On the Friday afternoon before the G20 kicked into high gear, a student at the University of Pittsburgh sent me this photo, which he says he snapped on his way back from class.

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