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That is truly frightening. I participated regularly in the peaceful antiwar protests in Houston before the Iraq war started, and no such police violence was directed against us. Perhaps HPD is simply less disposed to use force than LAPD. Or perhaps things have gotten much, much worse since March 2003. And as you said, the media pays scant attention to these incidents when they happen. If this is a sign of things to come, the next four years may be worse than we have imagined.

BTW, thanks for your comments over on the Yellow Doggerel Democrat. I really like your blog. This is my first visit, but it won't be my last.

Maybe you've come across this already but the explanation for tanks in LA seems quite reasonable to me. That offramp is notoriously difficult to navigate, even for me, and I've lived in here all my life. In one direction is the VA; the other direction is the Federal Building.

I've made the mistake of going down the first ramp, which takes you straight to the front of the Federal Building where the protesters gather, when I've wanted to head in the other direction.

If you want to get to the VA (in the other direction, same street), you have to take the second exit, which is extremely obscure and certainly not on the Thomas Guide. To get to the second exit, you stay in the exit lane, not get off the first off ramp, cross over Wilshire, then inch over one lane while fiercely fighting traffic, then take the off ramp which circles back to the right direction towards the VA.

These guys were apparently headed to the VA for an Armistice Day celebration and inadvertently took the ramp that dumps you right where the protesters were gathered.

Sounds like something that happens in a bad Hollywood comedy.

I may have believed that ten years ago, but not any more. There are too many examples of this administration militarizing the quellling of dissent. That said, your explanation sounds very reasonable and I understand that even people driving tanks make mistakes. But I've been pushed to the end of the spectrum that would have to have that explanation proven to me before I'll believe it. "We were driving around in our tanks and got lost in the confusing streets" is just too easy in the context of BushCo's history. If this stunt hasn't scared protestors away, we can expect tanks at the Inaugural - they won't be lost.

I was concerned at first as well. Hard to believe I'm defending the military but here is a case where someone who doesn't know how to navigate that offramp will easily end up smack in front of the protestors.

Even a GPS would not help these guys at this offramp. And once you get off the wrong off ramp, there is no way you can avoid the Federal Building because the traffic on Wilshire runs wild there. Going around the Federal Building twice is something I've done as well and makes sense if you were initially in the wrong direction. You have to circle around to head back the right way because Wilshire is such a busy street.

..."I wasn't there at the Tuesday night demonstration in Westwood, but I did do some follow-up investigation this morning about the two armored vehicles.

Turns out the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration was having a Veterans Day parade and celebration this morning (Wednesday). I drove over and walked in to the WLA VA to look around at 10:50am.

Lots of marching middle school ROTC "cadets" (including 11-to-14-year-old boys and girls from Mt. Vernon Middle School all in US Army uniform, some shouldering parade "rifles") and a high school band and antique cars filled with VAFW members. And two USMC Striker armored vehicles complete with 6 or 7 Marines in fatigues and body armor giving junior high ROTC kids and adults tours of the vehicles.

I talked to one Marine with one of the "Striker" vehicles. He told me they had driven the vehicles up from Camp Pendleton the night before (Tuesday) on the freeway. Getting off the 405 Freeway North taking the Wilshire East (instead of WEST to the VA) offramp, they would have passed Wilshire and Veteran where the anti-war rally was underway protesting the attack on Fallujah in Iraq.

I asked him if he was "rolling around Westwood" Tuesday night. He said, "Yeah, and we drove past that anti-war demonstration. We was lost. We're not from L.A. We didn't know where this place (WLA VA) was. We were trying to find it."

"Did you drive around the block twice?" I asked.

"Yeah, we did. We stopped to ask them (the protestors) directions, but they weren't very nice."

There was more conversation, but that was the gist of it from the Marine side concerning the armored vehicles. For what it's worth.

I've also been receiving emails from friends who were at the rally who tell me the LAPD officers said they had no idea why the Striker armored vehicles had shown up.

Author: Steve"

Who knows, I may be the fool in the end.

You would never be a fool!

I'm glad you're posting another viewpoint in these comments - especially because you live there. And I'm very sorry to read that the protesters took out their fear and frustration on the guys driving the tanks. Behaviour like that is unproductive. I checked out the site you mentionedafter your first comment and some of the stuff there is silly - bad silly.

But, where's the apology from the military for sending armed vehicles (unintentionally) into a protest? Everyone had to know how inflammatory that is. It's possible that one was made and I missed it. Have you heard anything?

So far, no apologies but I don't expect any.

Still, I think an event like this requires some kind of closure, but I was thinking times are such we can't even believe the media anymore, even if they did cover it.

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