Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beat Them at Their Own Game

Police in Minneapolis/St. Paul arrested, detained, recorded, photographed people for the mere act of dissent or, in another astonishing leap down the slope to [fascism, authoritarianism, anti-democracy, police state?], journalism.

Fortunately, some of these tactics are easily subverted. All can be subverted to some degree.

Looks Can Be Deceiving
So, among other things, police photographed tattoos. Anyone with kids knows about water soluble tattoos. We need fake tattoos for adults. More broadly, demonstrators, dissenters, etc., should modify their appearance. Hairstyle, facial hair in the case of men, clothing, eyewear can all be varied. And the more respectably we dress, the more formally, the more likely the small mind moderates and conservatives are to overlook us. Witness the The Yes Men.

Turn the Tables
Recently, New York police were shocked, awed and enraged when onlookers photographed and videotaped a cop bodycheck a bicyclist during a Critical Mass bike ride. Normally, that vile apologist for government intrusion, Michael Bloomberg, and his little toad Ray Kelly would have instantly issued a defense of police actions -- as they did most notoriously during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Here they had to be more circumspect.

We all need to have cameras. We must be brazen and public in our recording of public officials and their henchmen. This has worked in some small measure in Occupied Palestine, where Israeli occupation and colonial forces are marginally less eager to shoot blindly at Palestinians, thanks to some efforts to distribute cameras among the population, as Ha'aretz has reported. Cell phones can be great for this. (Watch for cell carriers to start monitoring what we photograph.)

The Less-than-Lethal Weapons
The government is deploying new categories of weapons and monitoring devices. We've heard about Tasers and rubber bullets, both described as non-lethal, though facts prove otherwise. Manufacturers have coined the term "less-than-lethal", perhaps to avoid liability with the more sweeping "non-lethal". Among the most recent of these is "Silent Guardian", developed by Raytheon to direct a concentrated beam of microwaves at "the enemy" or "protestors". The weapon causes a sensation of excrutiating burning in the skin. Raytheon claims it's safe. They're lying.

Lethal or not, this is another weapon that can be defeated. Wet clothing, a fine wire mesh (with a gap between wires of less than the wavelength of the microwaves) would tend to counteract the weapon's effect.

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