I did not get to see the horse-butt crowd-clearing technique that Cienna witnessed. Instead, I saw people running away from this police officer who was guiding his horse onto the sidewalk. When a horse is trotting toward you and you're standing on ground level, you feel a real basal-ganglia-ripping kind of fear, a caveman "oh, shit" that rocks you down to your socks. I keep thinking about the one sentence this cop screamed as his horse clambered up onto the sidewalk from the street: "Get out of my way!" I wanted to correct him: "You mean, 'get out of the way of this giant beast I happen to be riding on the back of and am tenuously maintaining control over,' don't you?" Most of the cops at the protest tried as hard as they could to be conscientious. They handled the crowd as delicately as police officers can handle an unruly crowd. But this one police officer did not strike me as a very nice man at all.
When the protesters were arrested, their attitudes immediately changed. A weird calm came over most of them. A few of them even joked with the cops who were processing them and sticking them on the Special Police Short Bus. I suppose when you're afraid of getting arrested for a half hour or so and it finally happens, you must feel relieved. It goes from a fear to a reality, with its own set of banal procedures to be endured. You're getting used to becoming paperwork.
This protester was clutching his ragged, pamphlet-sized copy of the Constitution as he sat in the tent waiting for the police to come and get him. You could tell it meant a lot to him; it was like his security blanket. When they finally grabbed him by the arms, one police officer took the Constitution away from him. "GIVE ME BACK MY CONSTITUTION," he shouted, "GIVE MY CONSTITUTION BACK TO ME!" An amiable-sounding stoner youth standing next to the action said to a police officer, "Just give me the Constitution, man. I'll get it back to him when he gets out." They then had a quieter conversation, where logistics were discussed. I don't know what happened to the Constitution after that.
As I said before, I was impressed with how methodical the police were about it: Let the parks people talk to the protesters, form a circle around the tents, arrest the protesters one by one, and then let the parks people take the tents down. I really wish I could've been there for the briefings the officers must have gone through before they swept the park. I'm sure the steps of the plan and the importance of proceeding with extreme caution must have been drilled into their heads over and over again.
Some people are complaining about the costumes protesters are wearing. I think they're great. Look at this guy! A construction worker's helmet, a cowboy hat, and a flag cape: it's awesome. I bet it helps him feel like a superhero, and maybe feeling like a superhero was what he needed for these protests. Every time I check in with Occupy Seattle, this guy is there, blowing whistles and walking around and talking to everyone. I've stood in the rain with wet shoes and socks for about ten or eleven hours over the last two days and I feel like shit; I can't imagine what it's like to have been there for, say, four days and three nights. A superhero outfit might be exactly what's necessary for the job.