Yesterday, during a new session of Parliament, 30 some odd protesters attempted to get into the balcony reserved for members of the public in Alþingi. The guards barred access, but two pushed through and shouted at the Parliamentarians to get out.
At which point seemingly every police officer in Reykjavik spend to the scene to remove the protesters from the stairway where they had been stopped by the guards.
And a scuffle broke out.
State television as well as the newspapers report that two policemen were injured (bites and bruises) and one guard (bumped into a radiator). There are no reports, except from the protesters themselves, of injuries to protesters.
The cops didn’t gas anyone.
Of course they didn’t. The reek of corruption in that place makes pepper-spray a deodorant.
Now we’ll have to listen to the ruling class bitching and moaning about “violence”.
Why the quotes you ask?
Well, let’s just say that the Icelandic ruling class has a very peculiar definition of “violence”.
Like when a police car was driven through a crowd of environmental protesters, and one of said protesters was charged with ‘attacking police property” after slamming his hands on the hood of the vehicle. Never mind that the car posed a threat to life and limb, we can’t have “violent” protesters “hurting” police cars.
Or during the trucker’s protests last year. When several large trucks boxed in the Prime Minister’s (gas-guzzling luxury) car (illegally parked in a handicapped spot) while Geir attended a meeting about Iceland’s image. He got all high and mighty about it, telling the press in his best George Bush that the Icelandic State would not negotiate with people who use such “violent” tactics. This was pre Gas! Gas! BTW.
Then there were the Falun Gong protests of yesteryear, when the Icelandic police rounded up hundreds of dangerous protesters (apparently doing Tai Chi is “violence”) and either forcibly deported them or denied them entry to the country so as to ensure that a visit by a genocidal foreign president would not embarrass the country.
Back in 2001, there was the case of the admittedly rather wacky head of a rather wacky far-left party who was threatened with life imprisonment for making “terrorist threats” when he pointed out that thanks to a tiny cabal of Icelandic plutocrats signing the entire nation onto the Coalition of the Willing in direct opposition to the will of 80%-90% of the population, Iceland could expect to be a target for terrorist groups.
During the early stages of Rvk’s game of musical chairs with the mayoral seat, a large group of legitimately angry people filled the viewing platform at city hall and angrily and loudly denounced the markedly undemocratic events taking place. The papers immediately filled with politicos denouncing this “violent” attempt at overthrowing democracy.
Not to mention the environmental activists who slopped green skýr on some aluminum execs being charged with assault and terrorism or some such nonsense.
In the recent round of protests, the throwing of eggs and skýr and rotten fruit at the Parliament house have been called “violence” by members of the ruling class and their deluded supporters.
The only “violence” that might justify removing the quotes involved smashing in the doors to the police station.
But as far as I’m concerned, that’s not violence either. Property damage is sabotage at best, vandalism at worst, but as inanimate objects feel no pain and have no rights, one cannot inflict violence on them. Moreover, the property is question was public property, which was being used against a member of the public for political purposes, and therefore, to my mind, fare game.
On the other hand, apparently spraying a crowd with a chemical weapon designed and formulated to cause intense pain is not violence. It’s “keeping the peace”.
This is sadly true of any government anywhere, and one of the reasons I’m an Anarchist. All governments claim a monopoly on the use of force, thereby justifying violence against “their” citizens by claiming that they are “preserving public order” or “keeping the peace” or “weeding out undesirables” or “solving the Jewish problem”.
Meanwhile any civilian who defends themselves against the state, even if said defense poses no threat to the State (like when simply owning a gasmask during the ’98 Seattle WTO protests was criminalized to prevent people from preventing the police from gassing them) will be persecuted and prosecuted.
So when a group of protesters walk through an open door and attempt to enter an area reserved for the public, that’s “violence”, but when a group of armed men with dogs kick in doors (to which they could have got keys if they wished) handcuff people in a state of undress, ransack dwellings, confiscate money and ID, regardless of probable cause, that’s “keeping the peace”.
When a police officer gets bitten, or a guard shoved while preventing members of the public from accessing a publicly owned building, that’s violence. When people are thrown to the ground, pinned down, trussed up like Christmas turkeys and manhandled out of the building for standing up for their rights, that’s not “violence”. That’s “keeping the peace”.
Just like they did in Tiananmen Square.
The problem is that many of the very people protesting have been deluded into thinking that the very government they’re protesting really does have a monopoly on force, and so to prevent them from using it, hold ultra-peaceful protests the likes of which astound people from other lands, where the public is less fully domesticated than here. Protests that involve a lot of talking and sign-waving, but nothing much that will actually force a group of people who have stated flat out that they will not listen to the protesters to resign.
After all, its just skrilæti.
Icelanders tend to be very proud of being “peaceful”, after all, the only people here who want an army are a deluded fascist bootlicker with a uniform fetish and his supporters, who magically get re-elected year after year. But this love of “peace” is in fact a fear of confrontation, one that shows itself throughout Icelandic society. Icelanders, for example, tend to be very passive aggressive, preferring to voice their frustrations to a third party rather than taking it up with the party frustrating them.
Unless their drunk.
This leads to a very handy dynamic for those in power. All they have to do is wait until things get “a little out of hand”, and the public, afraid of “violence”, will stop supporting protesters and try to distance themselves from them. This happened after the Gas! Gas! incident, when a bunch of drunken teens and some legitimately angry truckers clashed with riot cops. Now, the cops got a black eye, coming across as a bunch of trigger happy incompetents, but the public, fearful of “violence” quickly went from supporting the truckers to whingeing about them.
The same could happen now.
And the hypocrisy of it galls. If I call for a hundred people to show up with shields and armor, no clubs, no sprays, no stones, guns, Molotov cocktails, or any other offensive weapon, just shields and armor to protect us against clubs and sprays and rubber bullets, I’d in all likelihood be accused of inciting people to violence. Meanwhile the cops petition for Tazer torture guns, attack dogs, bigger paddy-wagons and probably (very quietly) for water cannons for their neither confirmed nor denied “defense force” in order to “ensure the peace”.
Who the fuck is kidding who here?
I’m not afraid of violent protesters. The protesters I’ve met and talked to, marched with and chanted with, even the most radical among them are not violent people. They have no plans to burn down buildings or assassinate anyone. No one is bringing Molotovs. I feel considerably safer in the presence of my fellow protesters than I do walking down Laugarvegur on a rowdy night.
I do fear violent policemen. I fear men who are convinced that they not only have the right, but the duty to inflict violence on others, imprison them, and harass them. I fear that those who hold a hammer long enough will begin to see nails all around them. I fear the “superiors” such men answer too, and their willing help in the media, who could convince this nation that those fighting for political, economic, and social justice are somehow public enemy number one.
I don’t fear “violence”. I fear “keeping the peace”.