No one wants violence.
Except maybe those who show up already garbed for it.
If someone says “I’m not leaving” you think it’s okay to shoot them with rubber bullets? You don’t think that there was an unequal escalation of violence? You agree that the police – sworn to serve and protect – should be firing on people who were defending their LEGAL and CONSTITUTIONAL right to protest and demand to be heard?
Why were the protesters in Oakland marching to City Hall? Because this happened earlier that day.
What are the preconceived expectations if armed forces arrive, decked in full riot gear, including gas masks?
When, earlier in the day, there was a forced removal from an area that was used for protesting that was punctuated by tear gas and overt force – as well as complete destruction of the property of the protesters – what are the preconceived expectations?
Anger is growing. We want a peaceful protest. Overall, things were peaceful. There are some angry elements. They are not the majority, and they DO NOT EXCUSE THE ACTIONS OF THE OAKLAND POLICE.
If you can blithely accept the actions of the Oakland police against the protesters as appropriate, then we have a bigger problem than just police brutality.
It is up to enforcement – the professionals – to set the tone for these interactions. Arriving dressed in full riot gear is not a good faith gesture, and it incites angry reactions. Forcing protesters to abandon their rights is creating angry reactions. Don’t expect people to roll over for much longer. It is coming to a boiling point.
I don’t want to see these occupations become marked with violence. But why is it that they are being approached with such force from the get-go? Ask yourselves that. It’s an important question.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it specify how one is to protest, what is the “proper” way. In fact, Orange county, CA, has wisely recognized that with their declaration that the tents represent free speech.
A councilman is quoted as saying:
‘I disagree with most of what you’re saying. But you’ve clearly shown that this is an issue of free speech. So if you need to sleep on our lawn, by all means, sleep on our lawn.’
Hmm, he gets it. Even if he doesn’t agree with the protesters, he understands why they need to be there 24-7. I honestly don’t care what his motivations are – he is choosing to side with the highest law in the land – The US Constitution – which has very little direction about HOW free speech is supposed to look. Here’s the text, in case you’ve forgotten that nice little paragraph:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. [from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/First_amendment] There are some openings for local government to control the time and place of protests under reasonable terms, but most of the actions happening today are overwrought attempts to shut down protesting that local governments find inconvenient, not because they genuinely, reasonably want to control the forum of protest within the letter of the law.
The designation of forums is one of the most insidious ways that local government exercises control over protests. It’s the way they try crackdowns on movements that they don’t like, by deciding “we’ve had enough” or “we want to close the park” or “you don’t have proper permits.”
But here’s the rub – that is NOT originally covered in the Constitution. Not at all. In fact, if the men who wrote that piece if paper had followed those sorts of directives, there would have been no Revolutionary War. Ironic, isn’t it, that there are so many crackdowns on Speech in this day and age?
Again, I ask: why is it that these protests are being approached with such force from the get-go? Ask yourselves that. It’s an important question.
Ask U.S.M.C. Scott Olsen – if he survives – why he stood beside the protesters on Tuesday night. And ask yourself: how is it right and proper that a two-tour Marine gets injured in his own country, protecting the Constitution that he swore to uphold? Why would he want to put himself in that situation?
And I wonder how he felt when the police lobbed those tear gas cartridges directly at the people who were coming to rescue him?
*lyrics from “Give It Revolution” by Suicidal Tendencies