American guns in the hands of city, state, and
federal police, National Guardsmen, and military
troops have shot at American crowds throughout
The most recent direct comparison to the police
action last week in China is the so-called
Day Massacre" of 1937 outside Chicago.
A large group of steelworkers on strike marched
to a steel mill and confronted police. The police
claimed self-defense against the mob and fired
on the crowd. Five protesters died at the scene
and as many more afterward. Most were shot in
the back as they ran from the police.
The last time a protest led to government gunfire
in the USA was at Kent
State University in 1970 when jittery National
Guardsmen fired on university students after three
days of protest against the Vietnam war.
Last week, overwhelmed provincial police of Shanwei
county, Guangdong, fired their guns at protesters,
mostly rural residents of Dongzhou village shortchanged
by local officials in a pay out for land taken
in eminent domain for a power plant. The villagers
began their protest in late October.
Earlier in October police in Tanzania opened
fire on a crowd. In September police fired on
crowds in Indonesia.
And on December 2, only a few days before the
events at Dongzhou, police
in Cairo fired on a crowd during the election
in Egypt killing at least one person. This police
action has received far less attention in the
world press than China's "killer cops".
There are numerous recent examples of protests
ended by what Napoleon famously called a "whiff
of grapeshot" Paris 1962 and 1968,
Mexico City 1968, Tiananmen
Square 1989, and Moscow 1993 are some famous
So common are these police actions that they
are soon forgotten. How many remember last year
in southern Thailand when police fired on Muslim
protesters and as many as 20 were killed?
The governments involved in all the actions mentioned
here did not fall nor did the actions of police
cause a popular revolution.
Police actions that end in violence are not rare.
So important is a government's need to maintain
law and order that it sanctions such police actions
as a form of terrorism with which to assert control
over a group or groups of people, a segment of
a society, or even whole populations.
©2005 Ben Calmes for Sinomania!