As a new digital epoch of protest has dawned under Occupy and Trump, riot police across the US have embarked on a fundamental shift in crowd control
Early last Saturday afternoon, under clear blue skies, a sparsely attended anti-sharia rally left the grounds of City Hall in Seattle, Washington.
Until then, the attendees had been facing off against a much greater group of anti-fascists. The two sides had been exchanging chants and taunts across a wide, fenced-off region, manned with riot police.
As they left the grounds, however, the two sides came into direct contact at the corner of 4th and Cherry. A group of young men some dres red Donald Trump Make America Great Again hats, others in masks spilled from the pavement out onto the street. Punches started flying.
Immediately, 10 fit, muscular police officers on black mountain bikes who had been watching from all regions of the intersection in two columns of five, leaped into action.
Dismounting as they closed in, they pushed their bikes immediately into the heart of the melee. Screaming instructions Move BACK! they used the motorcycles, and their bodies, to create a line, pushing back the crowd and separating the antagonists.
They held the line. As people began to scatter, the police gradually expanded the perimeter. After 20 minutes or so the crowd had noticeably thinned, and the riot bicycle division left for a nearby park where more battle had kicked off.
If it all appeared smooth and efficient, its partly because Seattles bike squad gets a lot of practice. Seattle has 200 -3 00 protests a year, tells Sgt Jim Dyment, the squads result trainer. Although theyre not all as contentious as todays.