July 28th, 2004

Killing Buddha

The view from here

So far, it seems that the hype over the DNC has been a great deal of sound and fury signifying nothing. The commute is actually lighter than normal, likely because so many people got scared into taking vacations or radically altering their schedules. A third of our staff is out, and fully half of those who stayed have switched to a 6-2 workday. The biggest problems seem to be for folks who usually come through North Station and those who ride the Orange Line (more on that soon.)

"Random" bag searches don’t appear to be happening. There are heavily armed T Police (and the occasional National Guard MP) at key points on the Red Line, but they seem to be largely content with standing around gabbing. True to expectations, their distribution is not terribly consistent. While there are guards stationed on each level at Park Street, there’s no one at Boylston, all of 1/4 mile away. Basically, if you did get turned away at Park, you could walk a block and then wave at the guards from your seat on the train.

This is not to say that bag searches aren't happening, though. Orange Line trains are being stopped and everyone’s bag is being searched. The Orange Line is the "ghetto" train, so I guess it's not that surprising that they’d be looking for malcontents there. The key thing here is that they’re not being searched as they board, so again, while the Convention itself is being protected, there's nothing preventing determined individuals from blowing up trains full of commuters. The only bag searches on the Red Line that I've heard about have involved sketchy hippie-looking types with duffles, a practice which really looks more like harassment than the random searches promised.

For the record, I'm really not liking the overwhelming presence of various flavors of security. It's actively creeped me out at a couple of points, most notably on Monday when I was passed on the Commons by a fleet of slow moving motorcycle cops, and yesterday when cadre of identical black SUVs with Maryland plates drove quickly down Washington Street. I've learned that while mounted police from Providence appear to have no problem whatsoever with having their pictures taken, the T Police and the National Guard MPs are significantly less amenable. Yesterday, both groups used passive intimidation tactics (such as having one of their number walking purposefully in your direction, or shifting positions so the back of a head always seemed to be filling your frame) to get photographers to move on. Nothing explicit was said, but it was clear we were not welcome.

Final words for today? I didn’t score a pass into the DNC, so Jesse Jackson didn’t step on my foot. The MBTA still hasn’t gotten back to me about my photo permit, and at some point yesterday, I lost my NLG "No Search" button.
The gentleman is always properly dressed

Six degrees to Tom Ridge and other silliness

The "No Consent" buttons are available at the Boston office of the National Lawyers Guild, located at 14 Beacon Street, Suite 407 (right next door to the Athenaeum.) The office looks more like it should belong to an on-campus student group than an organization for attorneys, but I'm guessing their work doesn't exactly bring in the big bucks.

The T called back to inform me that their "Intelligence Division" has stopped doing background checks for photo permits in favor of tasks assigned by Homeland Security for the DNC. If I had names, I could probably do a six degrees thing from me to Tom Ridge. I'm still not sure how I feel about this.

I got harassed by a LaRouchie because I declined to accept his literature. When it became clear that my polite refusal was not going to stave off a fringe political rant, I told him I was a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. This seemed to confuse him long enough for me to make good my escape.

Where there are protests, there is Falun Gong. They all seem very nice, but I can't shake the idea that they're just scientologists with tai chi.