Thursday, January 13, 2011

ArtTraveler recalls being "kettled" by Secret Service at John Edwards rally in 2004 campaign

There are all kinds of profiling.

An older man dressed a bit rough with long hair traveling very light with a wee bit of sweat running down his face stands out as an airport security profile risk.

Sit down, give me your passport. Why? No answer. You, wait. No explanation and then after your passport data has been checked against that day's terrorist watch list, you are waved on.

Happened twice in London late last year.

But the Brits are a bit anal? Not the only ones. I have allot of respect for the US Secret Service. When I was a volunteer for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 Democratic presidential ticket. I was unemployed, looked a bit scruffy.

I enjoyed trying to get rid of GW Bush.

John Edwards, Kerry's running mate, was speaking in West Palm Beach. As a volunteer, I directed traffic (along with others), well within my skill set. I liked it.

I always love questioning authority; now I had the opportunity to play traffic cop and exercise it with reason and justice.

But I wanted to hear Edwards, a gifted orator up close and almost personal. I did. Security was non-existent unless you managed to get within 20 metres of Edwards as he worked the stage with great agility and emotion.

I had simply crossed over from the plebian side of the gallery to the VIPS by taking a left as opposed to a right turn. Again, no security.

I managed by objective. And I ended up about 10 metres from the stage in my Army surplus jacket, jeans and longish hair and beard.

I looked good, I thought and the Secret Service thought I looked even better.

Since the recent London riots against university tuition fee increases (times three) and violence there, I've learned about the police tactic of "kettling." Kettling is surrounding your adversaries so they cannot escape the great circle of your police power.

Alas, at the John Edwards, West Palm Beach, Florida rally, I found myself kettled by the Secret Service.

It was kinda fun. First these guys are like very obvious, lapel pins, spinal cords extending to their ears, short haircuts, suits. Occasionally talking into their collars.

Suddenly, I found two of these guys looking at me close to the stage; another two flanked me on left and right and there was one behind me.

I felt like I did when I viewed the body of Vladimir Illyich Lenin at the Kremlin Wall in Moscow in 1976, when all of us were told to keep our hands to our sides and not move them. And these KGB uniformed guards were armed and serious.

I accorded the Secret Service at the Edwards rally parity of respect.

Then, when practicing law and an adjunct professor of law at the Willilam Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, I got the chance to personally meet U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, now deceased.

I was spiffy looking, lawyer-looking in every way.Short hair.  At least six Secret Service surrounded him and watched every person who approached him with professional zeal.

Tragically, political assasinations always impact history. Apparently it's time to extend Secret Service protection to all members of Congress after the tragic Tuscon, Arizona shootings.

If that's who we have become, make it happen.

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM) See ArtTraveler videos on YouTube...and, check in on Joost and Rob on their three-month pilgramage from Sevillle to Santiago de la Compostela at Vila de la Plata.

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