Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rage show stopped by cops; march and tear gassing ensues

A peaceful concert on the capitol lawn took a turn when rumors started circulating that Rage Against the Machine would play. Supposed headliners Anti-Flag finished up their set and told the crowd: "Stay put: shit's gonna get crazy."

What proceeded can only be described as organized chaos. As fans chanted "Let them play" and "Our Capitol," Rage band members could be seen on the capitol steps arguing with state troopers. After about 15 minutes of chanting and arguing with police, the band walked around the perimeter of the stage and into the crowd.
Grabbing a bullhorn, Zach de la Rocha asked the crowd to be quiet and sit down. He addressed the crowd with anti-war messages and then led the crowd in an a capella sing-a-long of "Killing in the Name" accompanied by bandmate Tom Morello.

As the crowd began to get restless, de la Rocha and Morello led the audience of approximately 2,000-3,000 people on an impromptu march along Cedar Street. Coincidentally, or perhaps on purpose, the Poor Peoples' Human Rights Campaign was also conducting a march. The two marches converged on Cedar Street and collectively moved toward the Xcel Center, where thousands are now congregated.

The crowd is collectively rushing the barricades, yelling and provoking police. Black Bloc protesters have been spotted, and I personally overheard a riot cop telling others he was nervous because one was waving an Anarchy flag. The cop said: "they are here." There have been rumors of tear gas along the march. I'm witnessing someone washing out his eyes right now, but didn't witness any tear gas myself. The person rinsing his eyes out is holding a camera and appears to be a photographer.

UPDATE: Reports from others on the scene indicated that the members of Rage Against the Machine may have ducked out of the march before it advanced into downtown. From where I was standing in the crowd, the impression was that the march was being led by de la Rocha and Morello; however it appears this was not the case. I can confirm that people around me and the people I talked to as I ran up and down the march were under the impression that we were marching with RATM, and many were surprised to catch up to a group with bullhorns and find that they were the Poor Peoples' Human Rights Campaign and not de la Rocha and Morello.

Here is a short video I took of the crowd chanting the lyrics to "Killing in the Name":

And here is a video found on YouTube of de la Rocha and Morello leading the crowd in an acapella sing-along:

And here is a video found on YouTube of de la Rocha and Morello leading the crowd in an a capella sing-along: