Convention Beat: September 3, 2008 Archive

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Bushville in 360

Posted at 9:57 AM on September 3, 2008 by Molly Bloom (0 Comments)

MPR reporter Tim Nelson is currently stationed at Bushville -- the encampment of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. It's located at Western Avenue and Central Ave in St. Paul.

Here's the scene at the camp:

Panorama of BUSHVILLE on

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Music to protest by

Posted at 12:23 PM on September 3, 2008 by Molly Bloom (1 Comments)

Free live music is plentiful in the Twin Cities during the RNC -- and much of it with a political flavor. Yesterday's Ripple Effect concert at the Capitol featured the Orthodox Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu, local female hip hop artist Indigo and Michael Franti.

The SEIU Labor Day Festival on Harriet Island showcased some big name acts including Mos Def, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle and local hip hop stars Atmosphere.

As part of their Electorate Fetus event, the Electric Fetus is hosting a series of free performances by local artists, including Chris Koza and Romantica.

The marches over the last two days have also featured their own musical accompaniment. Songs overheard by MPR reporters at the events:

"Paper Planes" - M.I.A.
"Holiday in Cambodia" - The Dead Kennedys
"Guarantees" - Atmosphere
"Bulls on Parade" - Rage Against the Machine
A dance remix of Madonna's "Like a Virgin"

And, of course, crowd renditions of "We Shall Overcome" and "Give Peace a Chance."

What songs did you hear at the marches? And what other free music are you planning to check out this week?

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The Usual Suspects

Posted at 12:56 PM on September 3, 2008 by Tim Nelson (1 Comments)

I've spent much of the last couple of days out on the streets, watching protests and police and politics and Atzec dances and impromptu gymnastics and Lord only knows what else.

For the most part, it's all theater. Everybody seems to know their lines, step to the front of the stage and say them on cue, then retreat for the next act.

But there are have been a couple of things that really struck me.

circlephone2.jpgI noticed this during a press conference held by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign this morning. It was on the ankle of a Deborah Hollingsworth, the occasionally strident spokeswoman for something called the "Pagan Cluster."

(The guy in the pink shirt getting arrested in Mears Park yesterday was reportedly one of their members, followed quickly by what was later identified as his copiuosly weeping girlfriend who was trying to reach him through the police lines.)

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to ask Hollingsworth about it, but it looks like it might be a phone number on her leg, and maybe the word "dad" after it. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. I was trying to manage a balky field tape setup and catch someone else at the press conference, so I didn't have a chance to ask her about what seemed like a tiny detail before she left.

But now the thought of it kind of brings me up short. God forbid anyone would have to copy this number off her ankle and dial it, if that's what it is. It just gives me a catch in my throat to look at it. Several people know me as "dad," too.

For all the boilerplate affidavit language in court documents, the clinical details of "planning and committing criminal acts during the RNC," you occasionally lose sight of the fact that a lot of these are very young people; the dear, dear daughters and sons of people who are might be watching this convention with more anxiety than any Sheriff's investigator can muster.

line.jpgThat's the other thing that struck me. I know a few of the wives, husbands, kids and parents of all those people in the turtle suits and on the police bicycles. I can imagine them, too, flipping from channel to channel, looking for a familiar detail -- a flash of a ponytail under a riot helmet, a ring on an ungloved baton hand, some telling assurance that lets them know their loved one is up and walking around.

This may be a national convention and there may be people from all over the world in town and watching it. But as I was walking down the police line on Monday, I found many a familiar face, people I've come to know after working for almost 20 years in St. Paul.

I stopped to talk to one riot-helmeted officer in the line recently -- he lives a few doors down from me in St. Paul We often greet each other as we pass in the street, and I'm more familiar with him in his casual clothes: in a pair of jeans and running shoes, maybe, and likely as not walking down the sidewalk with his dog.

Godspeed to you, too, Bob. We're all looking forward to having you safely back in the neighborhood.

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