In a recent tweet exchange, I was asked to justify my claim that “That’s a low standard of quality control. RG aside, mult videos I’ve seen of massacre show SF attacking ppl first.” I felt that a short-form medium was not the most appropriate way to express what is undoubtedly a complex issue. My claim is neither that security forces exclusively started violence (although that is my suspicion), or that no protesters had weapons (I’m sure some did… but why did they…?). Rather, my claim is that video footage of the clashes seem to justify initial police use of force against protesters, without evidence of prerequisite protester violence against police – i.e. justifying a response.
I first saw this on Juan Cole’s site; and I cannot corroborate seeing molotov cocktails that caused fires – the only fire I see specifically is around protesters (when they’re waving that big flag). The second part (in color) seems to be later on in the violence, after it started. Its youtube source (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9mX1o9DlWQ) seems to indicate its release by the Ministry of Interior.
I am by no means an expert, but what I see until maybe 25 seconds in is a police cordon and deployment. Around this time, protesters seem to approach cordon to a certain distance and then throw rocks. Until about 58 seconds in, I see no specific evidence of weapons fire. At 1:03, one can see police or thugs throwing rocks back, and that is when the first evidence of weapons fire occurs – a police shotgun (does not appear to be teargas; either fired by police, or civilians standing next to police). What is most striking is the calm nature of this group, standing their ground with no obvious risk to their safety. I cannot be at all certain of the integrity of the chronology of the video clips, but as released by security services, this really shocked me quite a bit.
Unfortunately, video from a balcony, which started before the shooting did also, seems to have been subsequently deleted from youtube for unknown reasons. That removal more or less tanks my purpose for writing this… And it appears either I cannot remember the wording of the twitter post I thought I’d retweeted, or that too has been deleted. Obviously I have no credibility, but my memory of the video was of protesters approaching a police van/cordon. Police fired teargas, people ran, and then weapons fire may have commenced [see below next paragraph].
This video (https://www.youtube.com/embed/yDDJBl9h-nA) seems to have circulated since. While it shows some pretty clear asymmetries and at least one death, the perpetrators are unclear. Other videos seem to confirm the asymmetry at different times, though not the ultimate origin of violence (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPVAzsoe6iQ, possibly http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxHqgTqS44I). What continues to strike me is the commonality of carefully-aiming, calmly-standing police nonchalantly firing seemingly at random. This is not dissimilar to the situation during the January 25 Revolution – and that discourse claimed the protesters were Tramadoll-infused terrorists too – though obviously one removes the Tramadoll in application to the Brotherhood.
Ah! Success, that video that I thought was removed was either reposted or can otherwise be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hZtEI_6qdU. Teargas is fired from the police vans, after which a plainclothes and a uniformed police officer both remove a roadblock to allow a van (carrier, really) to advance. Thereafter there is either more teargas fired or weapons fire – it is not clearly captured on the video. However, the glowing objects on the night-vision Security Forces footage are probably teargas canisters from that volley (my initial suspicion was that that was what they were). What seems to be absolutely clear is that there was no weapons fire until well after police began firing teargas (at least), and advancing on protesters. Taken in the context of the SF-released video, that very visible shotgun fire must have occurred before the bulk of violence.
The difficulty I had in finding videos for the above reconstruction (which is merely the way the information came to me – and an invitation to dialogue – not an assertion of totally reductionist objectivity – which would require a belief in objectivity, also), has led me to abandon my attempt to similarly find my videos for the Republican Guard attacks. I’ll leave it here for now, and invite criticism – if possible.