The political conventions have become a reliable playing field for protesters from all walks of life to gather outside the conventions where their voices won’t be heard otherwise. This was most dramatically realized in 1968 at the DNC in Chicago, when over a million anti-war protesters descended on the streets of Chicago to face brutal violence by the Chicago Police, broadcast live.
As conventions have advanced, so have their security precautions, to where the conventions have become the testing ground of security and crowd control technologies, from the use of audio dispersal equipment in 2008, to the use of orange fence-like webbing to net crowds in 2004 during the RNC in New York City.
In 2012, however, there was not the protest presence that the conventions have come to expect. While the threat of Hurricane Issac kept many away from the RNC in Tampa, FL, the DNC in Charlotte did not see the masses that have assembled in recent times. In 2004, upwards of a million people descended on New York to protest President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. In 2012, the protest population measured in the thousands.
Of course, this allows other groups to enjoy that much more of the spotlight. Code Pink has become the All-Star Team of convention demonstrations, from colorful fun protests outside to fearless disruptions inside. I interviewed Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans about Code Pink’s role in dissent at the conventions, the response to their tactics, and the state of protest in 2012.
A hit at both the RNC and DNC were Code Pink protestors dressing up as vaginas to draw attention to the siege upon women’s choice and healthcare. In Charlotte at the Progressive Central, the vaginas danced on stage along with emma’s revolution.
While there were numerous causes and events represented throughout the week in Charlotte, I happened upon this protest at about the same time Bill Clinton was taking the stage at the DNC. A rag-tag group with no clear cause, the situation devolved into a stare down by one scraggly young demonstrator trying to taunt a police officer to holster his baton. The police would rotate out officers as the kid tried to antagonize them, seeking to diffuse the situation.
Further causing me to think that the Charlotte police presence was increasingly relaxed was this sheriff guiding traffic, who went from dancing to doing push-ups in the street. Still not sure this wasn’t a street performer hired by the DNC.