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History is repeating itself

A young homeless woman, who was reportedly three months pregnant, was sprayed in the face with military grade pepper spray and reportedly kicked in the stomach by one police officer and then hit in the stomach with another policeman’s bike during an “Occupy” event in Seattle; she’s reportedly miscarried her child…

One recurring conservative talking point theme is, “The protesters were told to move out of an intersection and refused. The police then used the pepper spray to control the crowd.”That made me start thinking of other times when the “authorities” have ordered the crowds to disperse and the crowds have refused.

Using logic I’ve heard today:

Tensions were running high in the city of Boston, especially between the King’s soldiers and the citizenry of the city. On 5 Mar 1770, a group of school boys threw snowballs at a British sentry.  When the sentry called for help, soldiers and angry citizens came running.  Citizens began to aggravate the soldiers; and in the confusion of the moment, someone ordered the British soldiers to fire.  When the smoke and haze of the musket fire had cleared, three Bostonians lay dead; and two others were mortally wounded. This incident would come to be known as the Boston Massacre.


During the first week of May 1963, Birmingham police and firemen attacked civil rights demonstrators, many of whom were children, in the streets bordering Kelly Ingram Park. The violence raised a nationwide public outcry, hastening integration in America’s most segregated city.

The protesters were told to move out of an intersection and refused; the police then used water hoses to control the crowd.


The protestors at Kent State University were told to disperse and refused, so the National Guard shot into the crowd to control them…

The one lying down is dead, shot by National Guard soldiers on 4 May 1970; the guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others…

The students at the University of New Mexico were told to disperse and refused, so the National Guard fixed bayonets and began stabbing people to control the crowd…

On 5 May 70, protesters gathered to protest the Vietnam War and the Kent State massacre; they occupied the Student Union Building, and the ROTC Barracks. Governor Cargo went fishing and allowed the State Police to handle the escalating situation. The National Guard was ordered to sweep the building and arrest those inside; eleven students and journalists were bayoneted.

In the United States of America citizens are allowed to protest, it’s protected by the Bill of Rights – a little something called the First Amendment – and police are supposed to allow them to peacefully do so. If the protestors violate laws then of course the police can arrest them, and that’s what civil disobedience is all about; the protestors take part knowing they will probably be arrested for blocking public access to a building, or a sidewalk, and maybe even an intersection.

If the crowd begins to destroy private or public property then no one will argue the police should stand by, but that hasn’t been the case in the vast majority of reported incidents where police are using military grade pepper spray, rubber bullets and batons to inflict injury and to “break up” the protests; it’s reminiscent of tactics factory owners used against strikers unions in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

84-year-old, retired school teacher, Dorli Rainey is helped away by fellow activists and doused in milk to treat the effects of police pepper spray at an Occupy Seattle protest.

Police at the University of California at Davis dismantled an Occupy encampment Friday, arresting at least 10 protesters, nine of whom were students.

Videos have surfaced on YouTube of police in riot gear pepper spraying a line of protesters who had linked arms and sat down cross-legged on the pavement to protect their camp. In the footage, an officer is seen spraying the demonstrators at point-blank range.

A total of 11 people received medical treatment on the campus and two were transported to the hospital, Sacramento’s KTXL-TV reported.

While I was a young Republican working in Washington DC during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis, there was a rather modest protest of Iranian students not more than half a block from where I was working, the police moved in and many officers reportedly removed their badges and name tags and began breaking up the protest with batons.

I was a young twenty-year-old conservative working on President-elect Ronald Reagan’s Transition Team; I thought it was awesome that the cops had responded that way, especially to Iranian students protesting in my country while hostages were being held in Iran.

My father – a veteran of World War II – very patiently and lovingly told me how wrong I was, and how deplorable the police were for hiding their identity and for using such a high level of force to break up the protest. It was a supreme teaching moment for my father, and a supreme learning moment for me, his son. My Dad spoke of the liberties all people enjoy in America to protest and to have their voices heard, and he said he hoped I would think differently about those rights in the future. It was a lesson that was not lost on me.

In 2007, while serving in the National Guard one drill weekend, the news was on in our staff room, and of course it was FOX PAC; they were covering an anti-Iraq war protest in DC. A Colonel looking at the TV said, “I’d gas the whole lot them.”

I must’ve looked shocked because he asked me, “You disagree Captain”?

I told him that I did, and then I said, “Sir, this tells me that the First Amendment is alive and well.”

As an Army Reservist, I’ve received crowd and riot control training; and one of the absolute cardinal rules is you don’t escalate situations; the many reports of pepper spraying from around the country by police officers who aren’t in life threatening situations (UC Davis incident for example) is very troubling; either these police officers have been very poorly trained, or they’re deliberately trying to incite riots; perhaps in a effort to undermine the “Occupy” movement?

If the police officers in question aren’t poorly trained or incompetent, then one question to be answered is, “Who’s pulling the strings, and at what level within conservative circles, to have the police spin this up”?

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Constitution

 

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