I’m tired of hearing about encapuchados, those malfeasor, hangers-on to the Chilean student protest movement. It’s not clever, it’s not interesting. Social discontent is important, and I’m not sure what these two years of protests will eventually yield, but I’m pretty sure that exposing hundreds of thousands of people to tear gas because you can’t keep that rock in your hand from launching towards a police officer, or that bottle of paint in your pocket from flying through the air to land on a guanaco (water cannon), is not the solution.
There’s also the issue of how well the police are trained, they have a befuddling reaction, one that usually leads to chaos, confusion, destruction, and in one case, a photojournalist losing the vision in one eye (for which the sentence for the police officer responsible was just lowered, don’t get me started. Story (in Spanish). In short, they don’t seem capable of isolating the “antisocials,” which many people suspect is part and parcel of an infiltration into the student movement to make “them” look bad, and have the civil society at large reject their demands.
So far it’s not working, and every time I’m out there, I see more confederations of workers, people who have nothing to do with education (other than having been educated themselves) out there with signs. Yesterday on my way to the march I met a tween and his mom. She was wiping some breakfast crumbs off his face when I stopped to ask them who he thought was at school that day, and he said, some kids are, but almost everyone either supports the march (passively) or is actually here.
Want to know what the beginning of a protest looks like? Here’s some video I shot yesterday and edited last night.