Because freedom can't protect itself
I wish that you would take your not inconsiderable intellectual talents and commit them to a discussion of first amendment conflicts instead of hawking for many of those on the extreme left wing who were there, not to demonstrate, but to disrupt. Just as demonstrators have a right to demonstrate without disruption by the police, FBI and Army, so do convention attendees have a right to attend their convention without being blocked or harassed or disrupted by demonstrators and so do local people have a right to attend their place of work, to shop or play without being battered around by both sides and the police and as shop owners have a right to the safety of their various establishments. I'd like to hear your thoughts (and the ACLU's thoughts) on how all these conflicting rights can be resolved. I, for one, have no idea.
So, how about commenting on what CAN be done instead of what should NOT have been done? Those police who broke the law will undoubtedly pay for it via civil lawsuits. Some of them will probably be fired. The lawsuits will cost Minnesota millions. I'm more concerned with the creation of a real plan for whatever the next convention is than I am about retribution against the FBI, the State of Minnestota and the several counties and city police forces involved. Nothing ever seems to get done about that because there has been no discussion. There is no criteria. There is no best practice which guards the rights of all involved.
Try contributing to that.
Oldfart, you are incorrectly framing the debate. Your presumption is that the *potential* risk of protesters outweighs the protesters' very real right to freedom of speech and assembly.
If, as you claim, the protesters really were violent and disruptive, they should have been arrested. It's always against the law to assault someone or destroy their property. The right we have is to PEACEABLY assemble, after all.
But the police (and media) have done a poor (read: nonexistent) job of demonstrating any real threat from the protesters. Whether or not you agree with their points, you hopefully agree that prior arrest -- arresting someone because of what they *might* do -- is illegal and unconstitutional.
And yet, this is exactly what the heavy-handed tactics in Denver and St. Paul achieved. A number of people were arrested, pepper sprayed, tear gassed, or worse, simply because the police believed that they MIGHT cause trouble. Worse, may were arrested or assaulted simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is not democracy. This is not constitutional. This is not legal.
More important, as Glenn correctly frames, is the debate over the freedoms of speech and assembly. When did the rights to assemble, to speak, and to petition for the redress of grievances become qualified with "until and unless you make us feel uncomfortable or say things we don't want you to say?"
This is a big deal. St. Paul (and Denver) was a national disgrace that was hardly covered by the news media, and when it was, it was always framed as a clash between the usual suspects (anarchists and troublemakers, and our valiant police).
"The lawsuits will cost Minnesota millions."
Wrong, The RNC was forced to purchase a first-of-it's-kind 10 million dollar insurance policy specifically to pay settlements.
This means less accountability for police conduct.
How true, there will be no accountability. That 10 million insurance gave them a reason not to use restraint. Except for the name of the arresting officer that signed the arrest report, how can even video graphic and photographic documentation identify any individual officer for prosecution or discipline?
Hmmm.... You are saying that if police had information in advance that certain groups had, say, bomb materials, they should not act on the "potential" threat? That they should wait until that particular group (or groups) blows several dozens of people apart? I don't think so. If one of your loved ones was blown apart, you would be pointing fingers at the police for waiting. We shall, unfortunately, have to wait for the evidence to come in as to whether or not any of the raided groups actually presented a threat. If the police jumped the gun on these raids or, as appears to have happened, they raided the wrong places without warrants, justice will prevail. 10 million dollars will NOT be enough. (Not that you have provided any proof of that statement, Factsmatter)
The whole thing will be sorted out in court - which can be construed to be a tactic of free speech repressors since court dates at a point way after demonstrations would have had any affect. I do not doubt that this is a tactic. "Arrest them all and, by the time they have worked their way out of jail the RNC/DNC will be over." is just the kind of thing I would expect. Still, the conflict of first amendment rights HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED OR ADDRESSED whether you believe I am trying to reframe the argument or not. I am certainly trying to redirect it to where it belongs.
BTW, SOME of the protesters WERE destructive and disruptive. Do you deny that? Some of them directly challenged the police by marching outside their permit areas. Do you deny that? Not all police actions were pre-emptive. Do you deny that?
Do you also deny that 10,000+ protesters WERE able to demonstrate without being arrested? I would say you had a real argument if the number of protesters more closely approached the number of protesters at the Olympics in Bejing. Possibly the real crime here is that the MSM ignored their messages, whatever they were (I, for one, saw no mention of any of them on TV).
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