It is not, however, the worst fate that could befall this burgeoning contingent of activists. Agitators in Seattle rocked the world because police tried so hard to shut them down. By contrast, protests in Washington, D.C., during World Bank meetings were easily bounced off the front page by a little boy from Cuba. It is possible that, by some quirk of police conduct or media whim, the protest movement that comes to the Democratic National Convention will have nothing that, as Sellers puts it, “wiggles” enough to make a news flash. No one wants their ass kicked, but no one wants to be ignored, either.
A few days after the Ruckus facilitators packed up their camp, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the city and the LAPD on behalf of protesters for the right to rally in the vicinity of Staples Center, where the convention will be held. The ruling rang like the voice of reasonable authority against a police department already under scrutiny for corruption whose plans to stockpile tear gas and surveillance cameras were summarily derailed. It was a significant victory for the demonstrators’ right to peaceful assembly. But an assembly that’s too peaceful goes unnoticed — sometimes you have to break a window to be heard. In the end, it may not be the ability to transcend diversity that determines whether this movement thrives or fades, but a more elusive skill: finding a balance between attention and infamy, notoriety and respect.