Anti-war committee talks about experience at RNC

Nicole Stempak

Panel discusses rights of protestors

A police officer ripped off the mask Lisa Mirkovich was using to cover her nose and mouth, even though she was complying with his orders.

“That was the worst part physically because our flesh was just on fire,” she said. “It was really intense, like it was pretty much hell. But I was just drenched in chemicals and everything went black because you couldn’t see. You couldn’t open your eyes. It hurt too much. People were just screaming everywhere for medics.”

Following a 10-minute montage of footage and interviews, Mirkovich and four other members of the Kent State Anti-War Committee shared their experiences at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Tim Smith, journalism and mass communications professor, also spoke about the constitutional rights of protesters. About 20 people attended the discussion last night in the Kiva.

David Pittman, host and committee member, said the discussion’s purpose was to show a different angle than what was reported.

“Most of the mainstream media did not cover the protests from the point of view of the activists and protesters,” he said. “That’s why we’re here tonight – to give the activists and protesters a voice.”

Jen Pierce, also a committee member, said she went to offer legal support to the protesters. At one point, she said she witnessed the effects of police brutality.

“I also saw – I don’t know if you guys remembered the video you just watched – the young man that was describing his head being slammed to the ground by a police person while in jail,” she said. “I witnessed him coming out of jail and was standing there while he was getting photographed and treated for his wounds that were all over his head.

“And he had another person that came out of the jail with him. That person was also wounded in several places. That was kind of disturbing to see these young kids of pretty slight build that were obviously roughed up a lot by the police.”

For Mirkovich, this experience showed her the power of protest.

“But the thing is to stay strong and continue to organize in public because that’s what we need to do,” she said. “That’s what we set out to do … Coming out of it, I’m just a lot more motivated to do what we do.”

Brimfield resident Andy Stout said he attended the event because he wanted to hear both points of view.

Stout, who said his goal in life is to become a police officer, thought the video was one-sided. He said he thought the panelists were angry with the police.

He added that he used to work in a convention center in Texas where he regularly dealt with protesters. From his experiences, he said he knows the police don’t charge people without reason and “there has to be a conflict where someone is trying to break the police line.”

“The main job of the riot police is to keep the protesters away from the event (out of harm’s way),” he said. “There was a whole bunch of skipping around in the video and to my understanding, that was the (video) shooting of protesters somehow causing conflict.”

Contact student politics reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].