As they continued to cram neatly-dressed Republicans past the barricades, a cop in a short-sleeved white shirt announced over a loudspeaker that the area had been declared an "emergency zone" and we had to vacate it. Unfortunately, due to the general noisiness, his announcement was practically inaudible. I was right up front and I could barely make out the gist of what he was saying; behind me, where the bulk of the protestors were, it would have been at best a background crackle.
It was then that the order was given to move the crowd back, at which point things went more or less to hell. The bulk of the reports of violence and police misconduct come from the next two minutes or so.
I was in front and on the north side of the street, so when the riot police came around the edge of the barricades, I was one of the first fellows they encountered. I was trying to back up, but with a thousand folks pressed up behind you, that's not easy to do, at least not quickly. The immediate response on the part of the riot police was this:
I was lucky; the spray didn't get in my eyes, I just inhaled a bit of it, leading to coughing and hoarseness.
Note that this is the same cop with the big Judge Dredd gun, seen more clearly here:
As you can see from the progress of the elderly Republican in the scooter, this shot was taken a few seconds after the previous one. Note also that the nametag of the officer with the big gun is obscured by his equipment, as it was all afternoon.
At this point I was shoved back by officers with batons, though I have no complaints against them personally, as they were not unduly rough with me and showed professional restraint. I didn't get so much as a bruise from Officer Taylor (seen below) and his baton-wielding colleagues, though it must be admitted for the record that I don't bruise very easily.
In a matter of moments, the protestors had been moved back as far as the corner of 5th and Taylor, at which point came the most controversial and unprofessional police action of the day: the use of rubber bullets, of which much has since been made. I believe my photographs and experiences clearly pick out, if not identify, the officer who fired.
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