>Published August 2, 2000
>Philly Anarchists Stay a Step Ahead of Cops
>Cat and Mouse
>by James Ridgeway
>PHILADELPHIA, August 2The big difference between the
>tumultuous demonstrations in the streets of Chicago during
>the 1968 Democratic convention and the rolling guerrilla
>maneuvers yesterday evening in the streets of this GOP
>convention city is machine-age technology.
>In Chicago, protesters stood amidst National Guard troops
>and flashed signals back and forth to supporters in hotel
>windows. Yesterday, the demonstrators were organized in
>distinct groups based on political priorities, but were in
>minute-to-minute contact through cell phones. Reporters
>could follow the action by contacting a demonstration hot-
>line where operators, sounding like taxi dispatchers, rattled
>off the fast-changing actions: "Sixteenth and Chestnut is
>still happening. Wait a sec. Now it's at 12th and Arch.
>Twelfth and Arch. The cops are moving in. Go there."
>The police tactics, too, are far different. So far, cops have
>been relatively restrained, sometimes even collegial. When
>one group of bike-riding anarchists, dressed as horses, rode
>toward the raucous demonstrations at City Hall, one of the
>costumed pedalers crashed. Half a dozen police officers in
>riot gear then surrounded the "horses" and helped the fallen
>protester to his feet.
>Police are working in traveling squads of cyclists, swishing
>through Center City like riders in the Tour de France. Yesterday
>the bike cops were doing much of the arresting, while mounted
>police worked to corral the crowds. Whenever protesters managed
>to take over a block and stop traffic, a line of a dozen cop
>cars, sirens wailing, raced through the city to block the
>streets. Police on horseback, arms raised in a signal to attack,
>pushed the demonstrators back. The squads of bike cops quickly
>followed, wading in to make scattered arrests.
>Overhead, four or five news helicopters vied for a look. Spotters
>dotted the horizon, peering down from building tops.
>Unlike their predecessors in Chicago, these demonstrators function
>for the most part in highly mobile guerrilla-warfare formations,
>appearing suddenly with whoops and yells amidst the ever-present
>black and red of the anarchists, and then disolving into the crowds
>as the police move in. Many are themselves riding bikes, which
>helps them stay one step ahead of the thick blue line.
>When a phalanx of black-clad figures blocked a police van carrying
>prisoners, hundreds of demonstrators fell into skirmish formation.
>The police, caught off-balance, turned around traffic to open the
>road, and brought in mounted cops. But before the mounted police
>could move forward, the demonstrators had backed away, leaving the
>police confronting dozens of television cameras whose hubbub spooked
>While the conventioneers and most of the 15,000 journalists who are
>covering them move from one meeting to another, the demonstrators
>are accompanied by their own media entourages, which broadcast over
>radio, on the Web, and in print.
>Tell us what you think.
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