August 25, 2008

Denver Not Quite A Riot

Riot Gear

The most disjointed element of Monday’s visual convention coverage involved the media exploiting the security angle.

The Denver Post’s lead convention page was filled solid with references to demonstrations that “could have” gotten out of hand, not to mention the rumor of an Obama assassination plot.  The NYT’s unsettling slide show, “Guarding The Party,” offered shots of the Pepsi Center through a fence, lending the feeling of an armed camp; a creepy isolation shot of a hovering police helicopter; and still another of secret service personnel, at a far distance, on the roof of the arena.

In the example above, pulled from the same series, we see a head on shot of a riot officer, the anonymity, the robo-feel and the scale conveying a sense of siege.  In contrast, Monday not only seemed orderly (this photo taken Sunday, by the way), but, according to Lindsay Beyerstein of Majiktheise, the main protest of the day received next-to-no visibility because of the ingenious way the “free speech zones” (shades of the Olympics) rendered any reasonable protest virtually unknown to the delegates and powers that be.


(view of Pepsi Center from designated protest area,

locally dubbed “
the Freedom Cage“)

Beyerstein Protest

(Outer perimeter of convention zone, also designated as a “protest corridor”

for permitted marches.  Courtesy Lindsay Beyerstein/
photo thread.)

You see, the reason the scale of this photo is so manipulative to the folks at home — along with the explanation for why there’s a sense of an armed camp and why the Secret Service and the roof is so far away — is not because of the protest threat, real or imagined, but because of the way the branded “Pepsi” Center — just like the Olympic Stadium in Beijing — is so walled off from the city, and so controlled by layers and layers of check points and access layers that the image above, and the slide show overall, really demonstrates the overwhelming power of the (corporate) police state.

updated: 9:05 CST

(image: Todd Heisler/The New York Times.  August 25, 2008.  Denver)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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