Riot Squads in Palo Alto

Riot police have broken up a small demonstration in Palo Alto. Police Departments from as far away as Morgan Hill responded to a mutual aid request from the Palo Alto Police to deal with an anti-war demonstration by a group of Palo Alto Anarchists. I didn’t see the demonstration, which probably centered at Lytton Plaza, on the corner of University and Emerson. I was a block away, at Hamilton and Emerson.

I saw a policewoman with a four-foot long baton hanging around that intersection with other Palo Alto police. I saw other police units nearby. I saw a riot squad–in full gear– marching in, I think, four abreast. I saw ambulances leaving the area, one with its sirens wailing and lights going.

It was all kind of surreal. I think the demonstration was not large. Yet these anarchists have provoked a heavy-handed reaction which should disturb any lover of freedom. The sight of that riot squad seemed more like troops of a totalitarian state–the exact opposite of what anarchists would advocate. I am now at Hamilton and Bryant, as I write this. The police have cordoned off an eight square block area, from Alma to Bryant, along University. Bryant is open, and Alma is open. But University is not. High, Emerson, and Ramona are not. A helicopter is circling overhead.

This is the heart of Palo Alto’s downtown on a Saturday night. I see the kids who would normally be in the bars walking east on Hamilton. There’s not much revelry tonight.

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