Final word on the tanks (for now)
When this story first came to my attention it disturbed me greatly. Were we really getting to the point where military vehicles were being used to intimidate those who opposed Bush's policies? I didn't know if such was or was not the case, but I considered the possibility disturbing enough and just within the realm of possibility that it should not go un-investigated.
David V. did a superb job of hunting down information on what happened. ollieb posted word from Rep. Waxman's office on what happened in this response to a duplicate of the original thread over on The DailyKOS:
They said that the tanks had driven up from Camp Pendleton in San Diego (up the freakin 405 Freeway by the way!) for a Veteran's Day event today at the Veterans Affairs Center on Sepulveda, just up the street from where the protest was. Word was that they were lost (indeed, there was no need to pass the protest on their way to the VA Center) and were asking for directions. We both sort of chuckled at that when she told it to me, but that's what she was told. Also, it was suggested to her that the protesters actually prevented the tanks from moving on. Anyway, it still seems a bit fishy and she'll get back to me on Friday with any info she gets (they have Veteran's Day off.)
Wild Democracy Ride has even more.
And Politics in Zeros has what appears to be comments from one of the actual tank drivers who claims they were lost and had pulled over to ask for directions. You would think they would be smart enough to know that asking for directions from anti-war protesters while driving around in tanks was not the smartest thing in the world. But then who among us hasn't pulled a bone-head maneuver every now and then?
I have seen no evidence to suggest that they were there to deliberately intimidate the crowd of protesters. So, barring further information on this episode, I'm going to conclude that it was simply a case of bad timing.
On a side note, I was a little bothered that some of the protesters in the video were yelling "Shame! Shame!" at the soldiers in the tanks. That's just a little to close the 60s era rumors of people spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam and calling them baby killers. But then I have to consider that the protesters thought the tanks were there to intimidate them, so their reaction was not unsurprising.
In hindsight, it's a good thing nothing worse happened. The protesters could have stormed the tanks and attacked the crewmen. Then this story really would have been all over the evening news. It looks like everyone involved remained civilized enough to keep it from getting out of control. Kudos to the protesters, the soldiers and the cops for keeping their heads.
It's all just a sign of how bad things have gotten that we have to wonder if what we saw in that video wasn't an example of our worst fears coming true.
And to think I used to wish I had been able to experience the 60s (I was born in '65).
I guess I've learned better.