I think our Founding Fathers would be thrilled to see tens of thousands of Americans (remember they were the first to call themselves “Americans” as British Colonists) protesting with protection. The last I counted there were some 196 occupy movements going on throughout the nation covering East to West Coast and in our nations Heartland. I’m sure the self identified “99%’ers” would argue with me saying they were unjustly beaten by the police, hit with tear gas and falsely arrested so how is that protection? My response would be; they are alive to tell about their experiences, either in minutes or the next day after bonding out of jail. They have not been thrown in prison without Due Process and hanged as being a traitor, which is what our U.S. Constitutional Framers would have experienced. The cost of demonstrating then is completely different now thanks to the bravery and efforts of men like John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, et al.
Violence Looks Bad
Watching the media capture cops swinging their batons, pushing protestors back, and seeing five or six cops on top of a college student looks bad, even if those using force are allowed to use force. We live in the U.S. and are spoiled. Mouth off to a cop in Egypt, Russia, Germany, and a host of other places around the world and see what happens. It won’t take a full blown civil demonstration to see your blood all over the ground, just a few disrespectful words. Americans have grown up in this protective bubble (laws, policies, and regulations) that prevent the police from responding just as one of their foreign counter-parts would. U.S. police are very restrained, comparatively speaking, but still violence looks bad.
MESSAGE TO THE DEMONSTRATORS:
You have a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech…peacefully assemble, etc. However, there are rules to this game. There has to be. How would you like 5,000 campers in your front yard for the last month with no hint of leaving? I have split emotions on this “movement” overall. I believe our elected officials have long failed us, sold us out for their personal gain and “Yes”, the rich get filthy rich while the masses continue to downgrade at historical speed. Big money from the financial industry owns Capitol Hill and every other federal location within the D.C. Beltway. As the late-Ray Lavery, my father, said just last week; the “99%’ers are in the wrong place spread out all over. They need to organize and park in front of Congress and scare the hell out of them.”
As a policeman, having participated in large demonstrations such as what made national headlines at UC Davis when a California State University Police Officer Pepper Sprayed a line of protestors I understand the police perspective too. From personal experience I can tell you that it probably wasn’t a UC Davis Officer just acting on his own. He was following orders and the law will protect him too. My point is that a seemingly simply worded statement in the First Amendment has evolved in the legal arena through out our court system to be interpreted many different ways, which either does or does not give a protestor the right to demonstrate. Is a shopping mall the same as a college campus? Does is make a difference if the college campus is public or private? Are the protestors interfering with rights and liberties of others who just want to go to work or drive down the street? The courts have ruled on all these different questions, and more, but before you occupy someone else’s turf you better know what you can or cannot do.
MESSAGE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT: