Sunday, August 31, 2008

RNC 2008 Convention and Protests: Fear of Being Towed Halts History Right In Its Tracks

Photo by John Hoff

This week I am mostly blogging at about the spectacle and excitement surrounding RNC 2008 here in the Twin Cities, but predatory and abusive towing inevitably intrudes its ugly, oily head...

At this moment--literally as I type these words, a crowd of 175 to 200 is in the midst of "marshal training" to try to keep peace at the massive political demonstrations expected tomorrow near XCel Center and the Minnesota State Capitol during RNC 2008. During introductions, one of the participants apologized. He had to leave. He was worried his car would get towed.

"It's Sunday!" some in the crowd said. But a lot of them were simply unfamiliar with the situation on the "West Bank" area of Minneapolis.

"No, you gotta pay every day on the West Bank," somebody clarified.

"The people on the West Bank are politically powerless," I piped up. "And they aren't able to get free Sunday parking like most of the rest of Minneapolis."

So while the other participants learned interesting "de-escalation" tactics to keep the protests from getting out of hand (or, from another perspective, from actually having a meaningful impact) this poor guy had to slink away from the room and deal with his vehicle, even as friends and comrades in the room offered coins, if that would help.

Predatory and abusive towing messes up everything. History should be rolling along, but it isn't, because its wheels are being booted, or pulled up a flatbed tow truck and hauled off to some stinky impound lot to be held hostage for some ridiculous amount of money.

I bet the CONVENTION DELEGATES aren't worried about where they will park, though. They are safe in the parking garages of the posh hotels or riding taxis, because most of them flew here. But the situation was reversed a week ago in Denver. This isn't about blue or red, or green, for that matter. It isn't about democrat, republican, green, or libertarian.

It's about treating people fairly versus treating them badly. And Minneapolis treats people very badly when it comes to towing.

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