Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Trains, and the Riots, Run on Time

Walpurgisnacht goes off on schedule. I can imagine the scene in a bar, in Berlin.

"One more beer?"

"Sounds good. Oh, wait, I can't. I'll be late for the riot. I've already missed the bonfire. If I don't hurry, I'll miss the scripted spontaneous outrage of the masses, the inevitable accidental confrontation of left and right wing extremist groups, and the beating of the police with random pieces of lumber. Dude, I gotta fly!"

Still, it could have been worse. Predictions were that it might be.

(Note: the photo at top is actually a bonfire from Chapel Hill, after UNC won the national NCAA championship. My older son is one of those people jumping. Another example of a scripted riot. Interesting. We all need to satisfy our atavistic urges to dance around a big-ass fire, I guess.)

UPDATE: Anonyman writes about the paradox of rioting against war. He also notes that 273 German policemen were injured, some of them fairly seriously. Why?

Excerpt from the news story:

Rainer Wendt, chairman of one of Germany's national police unions, criticized Berlin interior minister Erhart Koerting's handling of the operation, saying protesters were allowed too much time to get out of hand and urging that a "no tolerance" policy be adopted in the future.

"Whoever throws a stone or wears a mask must be immediately taken out of play," he told the Neuen Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

Koerting condemned the violence, but said overall the police response could be considered a success.

"The deployment concept saw many different measures of violence prevention available, which the police quickly and effectively were able to use when it came to criminal acts," he said.

Konrad Freiberg, the head of Germany's other major police union, said forces had been cut back by 10,000 officers across the country since 2000, making it difficult to muster enough police for major confrontations.

"On days like May 1 we are on the fringes of our capacity," he told Bild newspaper.

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