Yesterday evening marked the absurdly long-named "October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation" at a rally outside of the Broadway Performance Hall on Seattle Central's campus.

The crowd seemed to number around 80-100 people at any given time. It was a diverse group, too—tween African-American girls, Native Americans, punks and metalheads, college students, a confused-looking bearded old man in a purple kilt and orange knit cap, a super-old grandma, and a bunch of pretty average adults. Also on hand throughout the rally were 12 SPD motorcycle cops, a few more guys manning two squad cars in the middle of Broadway, and eight bicycle cops.

As the rally kicked off, a black anarchist flag was held high and the air smelled of clove cigarettes. There was a tent run by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) off to the side. Some of the signs floating around included "Stop police brutality, charge Officer Birk," "Jail Birk now," and "Being brown is not a crime." A couple of anarchist kids arrived with big pots of food and started serving free food.

On stage, organizers gave mic time to people who had lost loved ones to police brutality. That is, until they decided to let an RCP member speak. The guy started off well, just running down egregious cases of brutality. But then he started to talk about the need for a communist revolution.

More after the jump.

One guy in the crowd began to yell "Respect the dead!" while another cranked up a boombox to drown out the communist. Two women in the crowd shouted these hecklers down... it was only later that I realized they were RCP members, too, and likely dedicated counter-hecklers.

Soon after that, I decided to visit the RCP tent and find out why a Maoist group that advocates violent revolution would attend an anti-violence rally. The woman I ended up arguing with was one of the counter-hecklers. Predictably, she had no interest in talking about the 65 million people Mao killed and instead wanted to focus on her great concern for humanity. I asked her why she was anti-police when communist regimes have tended to have the most aggressive police states. She showed me a statement from the RCP's chairman about how good police need to have good motives—communist motives. Having traveled widely in Russia, I invited her to ask any ex-Soviet citizen about their experiences with the communism-motivated militsiya. This did not amuse her. Shortly thereafter, she began to initiate force against me (gentle shoving!) and I left.

With the protesters getting ready to march, I resolved to talk to two of the SPD officers on hand. They were friendly and estimated the crowd to be two or three times larger than in years past. I asked them about the slogans being tossed around (think: yelling of "Fuck the police"), but they seemed indifferent and said no one, not even cops, likes police brutality. One of them shook my hand before I left and wished me well. Yet again I was reminded that it is easy to hate an abstraction but much harder to despise fellow humans.