I've been subjected to martial law on a small scale on two occassions previously :
The first was in 1995 at an Atlanta, Georgia near the convention center where the Grateful Dead was playing.
Riot police showed up, declared martial law to help clear the streets of hippies without tickets who were basically setting up shop on the sidewalks
and a few of the more "colorful" types who were panhandling and wandering around the streets without concern or regard for traffic right on way.
It was fairly peaceful, and I didn't see anything serious go down anywhere aside from a few people who thought it somehow appropriate to be rude and
harass the officers who were doing their jobs, randoming screaming something about "freedoms" (while ignoring the rights of others, I might add) and
being well...being "uncivil" themselves.
I experienced no problems whatsoever, but then again, it was quite an awesome spectacle to see so many riot cops in full gear lining the walkway up to
the stadium doors in the state of mind I was in at the time.
But, like a good girl, I smiled and waved and was polite as possible. Seems not to attract attention for some reason.
The second affair was a bit more extreme - the WTO protests in Seattle back in 1999.
After a full day of protesting, the crowd was still hanging around well after sunset, and the local officials keeping an eye on things decided it was
time to clear the streets after the crowd showed no signs of letting up with their peaceful assemblage anytime soon.
There was also a small faction of protestors scattered about who were obviously up to no good and I was informed of the Law being enacted and asked to
"clear the streets and return to my home" (which I didn't do, I hit a bar and grabbed a beer and burger) but the main point was to clear the
streets and disperse the throngs of people randomly wandering about and talking.
"Party's Over, Parade is finished - you've had all day out here kiddos"
The officers were farily congenial, but very businesslike.
By the time I finally made it home, chaos had erupted.
A few "elements" within the whole of the downtown populace had decided to "stick it to the man" and "fight back" that they couldn't just hang
out wherever and whenever they wanted, and dissention spread rapidly within these folks - a few kids took up some trashcans and smashed a few windows
to protest what they felt was unconsitutional and all hell broke loose.
Innocent bystanders, parents with older children, even the elderly were caught up in a swift and painful retaliation on the part of the officers
called to action.
Pepper spray, rubber bullets, billy clubs - you name it - were weilded without discrimination on anyone who happened to be on the streets after those
To anyone who followed the news footage and various aftermath of lawsuits against the city and violations on the parts of the riot cops who were set
into action - you might have some idea of what I'm talking about.
These officers were cold and efficient in making their point known - the violent equivanlent of "you've had over two hours to disperse peacefully
and in compliance with the law, and now you're fair game".
It was NOT a pretty sight.
Some people enjoyed the battle, many of my friends proudly sported their brusies and wild tales of police encounters that night - but also, many
innocent people got caught up in the mess, and were badly hurt.
The moral to the story?
Marital Law is valid in some cases, and if you're not up to getting in a scuffle with the law, retreat from the area calmly and quickly.
If you're interested to test out your fighting tactics against heaily armed law enforcement to settle some personal issue and not oppossed to getting
bumps, bruises, pepper spray, and citations and fines for civil disobiedience - go ahead and stick around.
Personally, if it comes down to Martial Law, I know damned well how to conduct myself so as not to attract negative attentions, and be damned if some
idelaistic ideology is going to subject me to the wrath of some of those officers out there...no thanks.
You, on the other hand, are free to do what you like. Just remember, there are always consequences in such scenarios if you get caught - and please,
if you're going to make a point...don't do it around innocent bystanders.