The year - Spring, 1969. The setting - Library of Congress. Actually it was what happened after the Library of Congress that this pertains to. A group of students from my military school were visiting the Library in DC. We were all done up in our military best as we had to present a positive image of the school. So we go through the tour, some of us interested some of us not. But everyone was interested in the 3 hours of free time we were to be given once we finished our obligation of being dutiful and studious students.
So we are let loose for some free range time in the federal triangle. Some of us followed the
It so happened that on this particular day one of the many Anti-war demonstrations was in full bloom on the steps of Congress. Not a huge demonstration, maybe 10,000 people or so. It appeared there were also several thousand police kickin around to keep a lid on things.
While we were rubbernecking and making quiet teenaged remarks about the Gays, the police apparently had decided that the demonstration had gone on long enough and right then was the time to break it up. I turned around and saw a line of police in riot gear elbow to elbow walking steadily towards us pushing everyone in their way towards the Capitol. When they were about 100 feet away, their ranks broke as they formed smaller groups of three or four officers. They then began to single out arbitrary people and pummeled them with their riot sticks. They used words like "Faggot", "Homos", you know the drill.
This should have been our clue to leave. For everyone but me it was. The two fellows I was with beat feet. Being brain dead and quick to anger, I headed towards the cops shouting at them to stop beating these defenseless people. Big mistake.
One cop looked over at me and headed immediately in my direction. We exchanged words. Harsh words. All I remember just before he began wailing on me with his stick, was him saying something like, "You should be ashamed of yourself. You are a disgrace to the uniform." The light went on and I understood. The cop had mistaken me for a real soldier, not the pretend one I really was. It took another cop to stop the beating.
We worked out a deal, or rather they told me they would not arrest me if I left the area immediately and they better not hear anything about what happened. Having some sense finally pounded into me, I agreed and gimped back to the bus and hunkered down until everyone was back and we were on our way back to school. Riot sticks create some really cool bruises.
So we finally get to my point.
It appears that the paranoia police have over handling large crowds has seeped into the mindset of the local police in Sanford, Maine - the town I have my bike shop in. I am not sure why they feel the need to acquire weapons that are used to control crowds, but they obviously feel that crowd control is a weak link in their quiver of tools to keep the peace. Either that or their performance on the gun range is so poor, they need non lethal weapons that they can use to hit the side of a barn without worrying too much about accuracy.
The Sanford PD is being trained in the use of the Taser Shotgun. Its range of 100 feet ensures the officers do not have to be up close and personal when quelling the huge crowds of one or two irate spouses they run into on a bi-weekly basis. And with it's multiple charge hit, anyone close is sure to go into convulsions as the 500volts surge through their body for 20 seconds. Plenty of time to sneak up on them with the cuffs.
I'll admit it has to be a scary thing facing down an ugly crowd. But if I was a Sanford resident, I might be asking them why my tax money was being spent to buy rounds of ammo that cost $99 each. Hell, it would be a whole lot cheaper just to use some buck shot and take them out at the knees. But then the question is, when was the last time a crowd larger than four or five people even formed in Sanford? I'd say this was a solution looking for a problem. And Sanford to my knowledge has not found this one yet. But apparently they are looking forward to it.