Video has gone viral around the Web of a September 21 McCain-Palin rally on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and Gateway Pundit has posted it. The reaction from the local wildlife was predictable, though no less cringeworthy for it.
I’ve been in their position before myself, and in my case I was just covering the demonstration for a friend, not participating in it. For my trouble, I came close more than once to getting the crap kicked out of me by indignant Manhattanites and other observers of the demonstration in question.
Gather round, my children, and I’ll tell you about it below the break.
You have to admire the testicular fortitude of anyone planning a non-liberal (or, gawd forbid, actively conservative) public demonstration in Manhattan. Back in the summer of 2004 a friend of mine asked me to help him photoblog the GOP national convention at Madison Square Garden, which I agreed to do as a favor. The group whose exploits he asked me to track was called ProtestWarrior, a group of conservatives, libertarians, military interventionists, and others whose collective schtick is to attend large protests, preferably liberal-to-wackjob-left, and counter-demonstrate with signs and slogans of their own. Needless to say, there was no place more suitable to find massive leftist demonstrations (with endless, very colorful photo ops) than a Republican presidential convention in the heart of Manhattan.
I took my digital camera down to the city, found the ProtestWarriors at their designated meeting place, identified myself to the lead guys, Kfir and Alan (very nice gentlemen), and began taking photos. I covered the pre-march prep, the starting point with police escort and all, the march down to the epicenter of protest activity around MSG, the process of PW’s demonstrators merging with the rest, and the dawning realization of the crowd that interlopers had invaded their hive.
It was not pretty. More than once, I had to scramble over the sidewalk barriers to avoid advancing hordes who didn’t appreciate being photographed. Here’s a shot I took of one of those instances (lucky shot…most of the times I was more concerned with getting to safety than with getting the photo, so forgive me for not having more of the “charging wildebeest herd” shots).
Keep in mind that I had no identifying items or marks on me that could conceivably have placed me on either side of the demonstration divide…as far as any reasonable observer would have been concerned, I was a neutral observer with a camera. The PWs themselves met with considerably more direct hostility; a number of PWs had unidentified activists sneak up behind them, grab their signs, and destroy them in a frenzy of tearing and stomping. I hate to think what they might have done with my poor camera.
So I must say I have to admire folks like those who showed up for the McCain-Palin rally in one of the most comfortable areas of New York to give them a bit of a kick in their complacency. It’s playing with fire, sure, but if they don’t do it, who will?