The New York Times has begun its serial misrepresentations of the protests aimed at the Republican National Convention in August.

“Tampa Restricts Protests” screams the Times headline.

Of course it does.

They’re reporting through their own freaky version of rose-colored glasses.  That changes the appearance of things.

Below the headline, Times reporter Colin Moynihan manages to troll through twenty paragraphs while only once briefly mentioning the violence and vandalism perpetrated by protesters in the past — and reasonably anticipated again this August.  In his telling, the protesters are innocent lambs being persecuted by society: society is the one throwing trash cans through the protesters’ windows.  The effect is weird.  He’s asking people to believe that the city of Tampa simply woke up one morning and decided to spend millions of dollars to randomly oppress people.  You know, non-Republican, protester people:

During the last three Republican national conventions, police officers have arrested hundreds of people as the gatherings have drawn thousands of protesters objecting to the party’s positions on a range of issues, from wars to the economy to the environment.

Police have arrested hundreds of people.  Why?  Because they objected to positions?  Is that really why they were arrested?

Even for the Times, this isn’t reporting.  It’s an infomercial for the protesters.

The infomercial continues:

[T]his time around, the protesters planning to gather in Tampa the last week in August hope their ranks will be swelled by the Occupy movement, whose members have said that they see the party’s expected nominee, Mitt Romney, as the embodiment of a financial system that favors the rich and corporations over ordinary citizens.

“The embodiment of a financial system that favors the rich and corporations over ordinary citizens.”  The protesters couldn’t have said it better themselves.  Oh, wait.

Tampa isn’t restricting the protesters: the city is bending over backwards and paying pirate’s ransom to Occupiers, “resistRNCers” and other assorted muggers in the impotent hope that, given enough candy, they won’t try to burn the city down.  It’s an unhealthy business, this shelling over of cash and prizes to people because they’re threatening you.

Tampa spent $57,000 to set up a special spot for protesters, along with scores of other expenditures that would be entirely unnecessary if the protesters really intended to obey laws — like the rest of us.  The federal government is spending $100 million of our tax dollars to ensure that violent thugs don’t disrupt peaceful, pre-election gatherings of Republicans and Democrats in Tampa and Charlotte.  So who’s really being “held hostage” and “silenced”?  It’s the public, forced to pick up the tab for all these planned temper tantrums.

Meanwhile, reporters keep mic-checking ornate fantasies about the protesters’ suppression of speech meme:

Protesters . . . said that officials may be using the specter of disorder to justify heavy-handed tactics. They added that over the last few years the authorities in cities where large protests took place have appeared to follow a script that includes pre-emptive detainment, indiscriminate mass arrests and infiltration of protest groups.

I’d like Mr. Moynihan to explain why none of these innocent and peaceful protesters would go on the record and let him use their names in normal quotes, instead of this weird, talk-through-the-reporter’s-hat ventriloquist act he’s performing.

The Occupy model of demanding special access to public property and special privileges — at the threat of destruction — should have schooled public officials to stop “negotiating” with them long ago.  It won’t work, either: after months of earnest and pricey negotiations, wasting our time and money, the protesters are merely changing their URLs and ramping up their threats.  But you won’t read any of that in the Times.  The newspaper sort-of quotes the non-named protesters claiming that they’re not going to commit acts of violence — oh no, not them:

The resistRNC Web site includes a “Notice to Law Enforcement Spying on Us,” which states that the group is not planning violent actions.

Well, if they and the Times say so, it must be true.  Except . . . this snippet doesn’t really capture resistRNC’s zeitgeist.  The resistRNC website actually states that the group, whoever they are, is committed to a “diversity” of tactics, a term which specifically references violent protest.  This silly double-talk signals that violence is expected and that these protesters have committed themselves to supporting violent actions by other protesters.  Here’s the part the Times didn’t quote:

  1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a political diversity within the struggle for social, economic and environmental justice. As individuals and groups, we may choose to engage in different tactics and plans of action but are committed to
    treating each other with respect.
  2. We reject all attempts to create divisions among our movements. We agree to not publicly criticize other parts of our movement or cooperate with state or media efforts to portray good protester/bad protester.
  3. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain appropriate separations of time and space between divergent tactics. We will commit to respecting each others organizing space and the tone and tactics they wish to utilize in that space.

The resistRNC website is directly promoting actions that do not respect the protest guidelines painstakingly negotiated by front-groups and their lawyers with the Tampa City Council.  That means the protesters are planning to break the law . . . unless there’s some third option I’m too semantically obtuse to grasp.  The resistRNC site is also intentionally provocative and threatening, listing hotels where conventioneers will be staying and plotting the sites on a map.  Why didn’t the Times mention that?

Here, not deflected through the Times’ magic optic, is the way the protesters describe themselves.  Sorry in advance for their potty mouth:

You are either for Justice, or you are in our way.  Our target is the power elite, who are fucking over every one of us, and its worse for the people of 3rd world countries as well as the environment.

We are not concerned with the police, who should be fighting for us, or the right, who should stand with us, unless you attack us.

We do not tolerate a threat to our protesters no matter where it comes from.  Self-defense is accepted under our banner of non-violence.

Well, that sounds friendly.  I can understand why reporter Colin Moynihan took them at their word.  Of course, he was also super-busy not finding things out about the one protester he quotes extensively, the Reverend Bruce Wright.  According to Moynihan, Wright is a peace and justice activist planning some event promoting the poor:

[T]he Rev. Bruce Wright, of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, said that he was arranging for an encampment called Romneyville to be set up on private property, where he said the city’s rules will not apply.  “We are looking at it as kind of a refuge,” Mr. Wright said of the camp, adding that on the first day of the convention it will be used as a staging ground for a march meant to highlight the problems of poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

Gosh, you’d have to spend thirty seconds or more googling Wright’s name to learn what locals down here already know about him.  You can read about him here and here and here.  But through the Times’ magic optic, he’s just the hero of Romneyville.

This is far from the first time the paper of record got snowed by some guy they didn’t vet first.

You’d think they’d learn to use that thing called the internet.

But sometimes I can understand not wanting to stare the truth straight in the eye.  You never know what you’re going to find there.  Again, language — and optic nerve — apologies in advance:


Join CODEPINK and V-Day to bring your vagina to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL August 27-30!  
Together, we will bring our resilient, creative, powerful vaginas to Republican fundraisers and to the convention hall. We’ll also take part in the Coalition March on the RNC and other peace and justice actions. 

Sunday, August 26
1-8pm: CODEPINK Convergence and Activist Training Camp 
Location TBA

Monday, August 27

10am: Coalition March on the RNC

Permitted Rally and March

Perry Harvey Sr. Park, 1200 N. Orange Avenue

3-5:30pm: March for our Lives
Join the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign for a march to stop home foreclosures and the criminalization of the poor and homeless. 

11pm: Roving Radical Dance Party

Stay tuned for more events coming on August 28-30!