On Sept. 3, Rage Against the Machine will again reunite, this time to play a concert at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The fact that this concert coincides with the Republican National Convention in St. Paul is no coincidence. This is not the first time Rage has decided to play a politically significant concert.
In 2000 the group played a free concert in Los Angeles near the site of the Democratic National Convention. After a few concert-goers got unruly, some of the 2000 police officers adorned in full riot gear fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray into the assembly in order to get them to disperse. Zach de la Rocha, the group's vocalist, called the incident, "nothing less than an orchestrated police riot." Undoubtedly, both parties acted irresponsibly.
The area in and around the convention in St. Paul will likely garner tens of thousands of protesters. It is necessary that the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis allow these protestors to voice their opinions in a safe, and reasonably unrestrained environment. Rioting and violence are sure to erupt if the protestors are not given the space and freedom needed to express what they desire.
Protestors, on the other hand, need to show some restraint in their activities and not let their actions lead to rioting. It only takes a few unruly protestors for police to become anxious and fire into the crowd, as was shown in Los Angeles in 2000.
The outcome of the events in St. Paul and Minneapolis will be a testament to the way in which citizens can conduct a civil protest. They will also set a precedent for future protests and the way in which those in charge of keeping the protests civil are able to do so.