US Protests

Massive anti-war protests (NYT coverage) happened yesterday in many cities across the US. The local TV stations here in Oregon had continuing live coverage as Portland protestors shut down bridges and closed freeways at various points of the evening. There were similar protests in Eugene and Ashland. Beyond this civil disobediance, there was little violence and few arrests. Which is amazing when you consider the number of people involved. There are similar stories in San Francisco (though many more arrests...a record, in fact), Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Flagstaff, St. Louis, Austin, Boston, Madison, Athens OH, Delaware, Maryland, Detroit, Bennington VT, Albany NY, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Olympia WA, Santa Rosa CA, Erie PA, and more. I wonder if the war budget included the cost of civil unrest at home for states that are already struggling to get by. My other question: did the protestors get it out of their system? Or are we looking at a prolonged campaign?

Portland IndyMedia has independent coverage of the protests here in Oregon.

Some weblog coverage of protests: Lisa Rein, Kevin Burton, Kung Fu Grippe, and Jason Zada in San Francisco. Raph Levian in Berkeley. Stephen (recounts being pepper-sprayed) and The One True b!X (several posts with pictures) in Portland.

Comments

Do you think that civil disobedience and mass protests put other citizens at risk, taking away police and other law enforcement resources from investigating and protecting us from terrorists? Just curious, there are a lot of police that need to handle the crowds at those things.
That's a good question, and I think everyone--protesters and police--would rather be at home or going about their daily routines. Do you think people should remain silent and isolated when their conscience tells them to be against a war? Does that make them complicit?
People should always be allowed to protest. It was a Bill O'Reily question that made me think about the civil disobedience part. He has a point that with the threat of terrorism, it's counter productive to take away law enforcement from other more important responsibilities. People shouldn't break the law when they are protesting, but they should definitely get out their and stand up for what they believe in. I don't think it's as big of a deal as he makes it out to be, I just cringe when I see protests turn violent and disruptive. I wonder who these violent and disruptive people are and if they are there only to cause trouble, or if they just get too excited and overheated so to speak.
There are so many people opposed to the war at this point that it's a very big tent. Anarchists are always going to be opposed to anything the government does, and they're willing to be violent in protesting. I think that's terrible, and I don't believe they really want to change anything. I believe they like being "oppressed outsiders" and their actions aren't designed to change that. As MLK said, "...rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be follwed by a sense of futility." I personally don't see a problem with peaceful civil disobediance, and I think there's a history and tradition of thinking on the subject that shows it can be effective.