Cutting Through The Crap

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Considering Police



Here's something on which to ruminate: As we watch OWS protesters around the country being brought down by some pretty tough police action (arrests, beatings, indiscriminate pepper spray, etc), should we be considering the power police have to quash peaceful protest? At what point does it become a danger to a free society, to the ability of citizens to petition against the government?

I ask this as a general proposition: I have no knowledge of the specific laws which may or may not have been broken by the recent protests in the various cities. Nor, for that matter, about the reasonableness of those presumed laws. But it's worth asking, in the context of peaceful protest, who does and who ought to have the authority to take them down. By what definitions does a protest become something to which police in riot gear need to be sent; and at what point is aggressive action warranted? Who gives the order? On what basis, and by what authority? What is the purpose of the police when they arrive? Maintaining order, or suppressing the gathering? When does one begin to blend into the other?

And how about "detaining" (handcuffing, arresting) reporters on the scene? Anyone have a problem with that?

Seems to me these are questions all people ought to ask; maybe especially those gun-totin' America-loving bulwarks against tyranny: teabaggers, teabaggRs, militias. The RWS™ are only too happy to see the OWS protesters taken down by any means. But should they worry about the possibility of similar action at next Glenn Beck paranoia-fest? It's pretty clear of late that freedom of speech is in the eye of the beholder, and hardly a unequivocal ethos at that end of the spectrum. Whatever the rules, they ought to apply universally, oughtn't they?

I don't think it's a trivial issue. Seems to me it's at the heart of what makes a free and democratic society.


4 comments:

Pieter B said...

Looking at the video last night of the pepper-spraying, it appeared that Seattle PD officers were spraying it from something other than the standard aerosol can. It looked like they had something with garden-hose nozzles.

At first I thought they were firehoses, but the stream was not strong enough. To learn that it was pepper spray being dispensed like that was chilling.

What
The
Fuck?

Health Train Express said...

It appears that the peaceful OWS movement has been hijacked by a relatively few "terrorists". Threatening to molotov Macy's is a terrorist threat...Where was DHS?
Most people agreed with OWS and they were gathering considerable support. When the nonsense began and there was no real leadership, the crazees took over. The police inevitably will act to protect property, personal health and public spaces. The site of yelling, kicking screaming people being dragged off, is not peaceful passive resistance. The OWS groups need to read Ghandi and MLK. The original OWS' need to take back their ideas which struck home to most people. (a former Vietnam Veteran)

Sid Schwab said...

I agree. It bothers me that the crazies have seen to it that the basic idea behind the movement is lost. On the other hand, kicking and screaming while being dragged off doesn't necessarily indicate what went on before the dragging. (Still a Vietnam vet.)

Pieter B said...

The guy who made the arson threats has been arrested, as he should have been.

To say that he and a few nutbars have hijacked the movement is more of a stretch than the seat of Kim Kardashian's jeans.