At Last

Darren M / © Darren Melrose - 26/12/2007 14:55:29 project: Is it a protest if noone comes \ Asia \ Taiwan \ T'ai-pei Shih
Day three and finally something is happening...sort of.  Day three did see a lot more people at the gates.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on viewpoint) the new people were almost entirely in the form of crowd control and even more media; the actual increase in demonstrators was minimal.  Going from memory, the national government (DPP controlled) sent in about 300 more uniformed officers, while the city (KMT controlled) sent in an equal number of municipal officers.  While the media responded in kind, there were only a small number more activists who showed up.  There were actually some fairly well reasoned concerns that hostilities could arise between the competing police forces rather than the crowd.  Fortunately, that never came to be.

With more media and more police there was definitely more entertainment too.  Those who did bother to show up to protest became more theatrical and the police were dressed for the part as well.  Actually, I found the whole thing ridiculous.  Every once in a while a Chiang loyalist would step towards the new wall of security (complete with crowd control shields and long batons) and scream a slew of slogans and profanities at the hapless officers.  Those screams were often accompanied with slurries of saliva, betel nut juice, tobacco and alcohol.  The whole while the police, safe from the noxious juices spouting from the mouths of their detractors because of being behind the shield, would simply look on with a bemused smile.  After running out of breath, the screamer would blend back into the crowd.

Even more entertaining than the screamers were what I will call the crashers.  These were all guys in their mid 50s or older, none more than 60kg and none in what I would call top physical strength.  With a great scream, they would make a rush at the wall of police and try to burst through the wall of shields.  Dozens of police officers in their mid 20s or early 30s vs a single, middle aged and out of shape guy, you do the math.  None made it through the shields.  The really stupid thing though was that the police weren't even stretched all the way across the front gates.  If one wanted, s/he could walk to the right and go to the end of the line of cops, walk into the grounds and then walk right behind the well of the police.  In a bizarre scene I missed on camera there was a lady walking with a baby stroller just behind the wall of police while one betel nut chewer was trying to break through; obviously, it was all about the show  I do know that when it was time for me to go to work, I simply walked toward the police, smiled, and they moved aside for me to get through. 

Here you can see one of the younger screamers facing off at the police.  This is a pretty good example of how little was really happening.  Look at how many still and video photographers are trying to get their best angle, notice how many police officers there are and then notice that there is but a single protestor. 

So much made over so little...
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discussion about this photo  exif data 
02/01/2008 16:46    from : ALSOM
Hi Darren,

I'm just trying to understand how you could get this fantastic pov. Either you are tall or you were perfectly positioned or you used a monopod !

The pov gets us right in the frontline with those demonstrators and policemen. I wishl everyhting went well for them and for you & gear ;o)

Happy New Year 2008!

27/12/2007 15:10    from : markoci
a good example of how the media sensationalised the whole event... i like the circular arrangement of the 'participants' in the scene, and the 'layering' of journalists, protester, police, journalists.. an informative shot, too bad i missed this scene....

27/12/2007 14:56    from : flydragon
yes a great point of view and a god picture Darren, i do like the camera on the border, and the police in other corner. Well seen .

27/12/2007 14:46    from : jinju
I remember a similar sort of shot in the newspaper here: a single OLD guy, and  I mean like in his 60s or 70s, protesting against North Korea, surrounded by about 20 riot cops in full gear. Funny and tragic at the same time. Very similar feel here from this. The thing we have to remember, and the authorites know well, is that large scale opposition often comes from a single guy standing up. Wasnt it one person who had the balls to shout somethign against Caucescu at that bastard's public speech that finally gave the people the courage to take that monster down?

27/12/2007 10:53    from : vapours
Excellent point of view Darren, you've done a great job of obtaining the position where there must have been a tough fight for it and consequently you've provided the best view of the scene. Love the amount of people crammed into that little area.

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