Most of the thousands of protesters who marched from the State Capitol to the Xcel Center and back on Labor Day were peaceful. Code Pink was there, dressed in pink and wearing huge puppet heads they had spent weeks making.
Veterans for Peace were there. They were there on Sunday, too, when a couple of them--a retired surgeon, and a 72-year-old nun--politely committed acts of civil disobedience by leaving the prescribed route and jiggling some fencing until they were obligingly arrested.
The nun flashed the peace sign before being taken away. She was released shortly thereafter.
But on Monday the crowd was much, much bigger. Most of the protesters followed the prescribed route. But several hundreds of them did not. And they did more than politely jiggle fences.
And so now my downtown is a big mess.
They broke out the windows at Macy's.
(And then the Macy's employees had to come out and sweep up all the broken glass.)
They barricaded streets by throwing Dumpsters and bicycle racks and newspaper boxes and other debris in the way. They bicycle-locked themselves together and barricaded the freeway exit. They slashed tires.
They smashed out police car windows.
They lit fires.
They broke more windows, including at Heimie's Haberdashery, where Doug buys his hats, maybe because the store was open on Sunday for the RNC, or maybe just because they happened to be standing near it.
They got pepper-sprayed.
Some members of the news media got caught in the pepper spray as well. So did some attorneys and filmmakers, who were there to bear witness.
I love the protesters--their papier-mache masks, their deep passion, their slogans and chanting, their creative ways of making their point.
I do not like the rioters. I don't like them because they are mindlessly destructive, and they hurt innocent people, and what they do seems studied, not passionate, and it is almost always counterproductive. And I really don't like the fact that this image becomes an enduring image of my city:
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