“If they had determined that she had committed an offense,” Clancy explains, “they certainly had the authority and opportunity to arrest her. . . . but the fact that she was not arrested at that point, and they were under no threat, and she acted in a passive manner. . . they beat her. That kind of behavior wasn’t singular.” Moreover, several video cameras were on hand to capture the scene — police saw them, and asked them repeatedly to leave.

“The fact that police weren’t protecting themselves more, it’s interesting to note,” concludes Clancy.

Coldsnap Legal Collective concurs. “Even those who were expecting to witness the brutality and repression of the police state,” writes the group in an e-mail, “were surprised by the level of organization and coordination demonstrated by the police in their attempts to silence dissent.”

In the face of such flagrant abuses of power, what is the “ground noise and static” — as McCain referred to protesters when two members of women-led anti-war group Codepink interrupted his acceptance speech — to do? As a 19 year old named Maria, fresh from an illegal 58-hour imprisonment, explains when asked why she came to St. Paul: “This is my country. This country does not belong to the Republicans.”

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (2007, The New Press), the founding series editor of the Best American Comics, and the former editor of Punk Planet. She lives in Chicago. She can be reached via her Web site at anneelizabethmoore.com.

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