Does the group 'Food not Bombs' strike you as a terrorist organization? Do journalists from DemocracyNow pose a clear and present danger to the Republican or Democratic conventions? Or what about the axe-wielding members of the band 'Rage Against the Machine' they seem like a dangerous bunch. Armed to the teeth with their musical instruments.
What has come to light with the RNC protests is incredibly disturbing. The arrests of journalists, the use of free speech zones, the mass false arrests and detentions, pop up police lines, and police rushing crowds of protesters even using vehicles as weapons to flank the crowds...these are clear violations of the First Amendment. In regards to journalists, it inhibits the rights of journalists to gather information as granted by the First Amendment. In regards to protesters, it severely limits, infringes upon, or otherwise stops, their right to protest. Police arresting people based on a perceived political ideology, is a clear violation of First Amendment rights.
Police conducting mass warrantless raids on organization, clearly because of political ideologies, or because of perceived or expected acts of protest, are clear violations of the fourth amendment. If it is politically motivated, as is easily seen by taking into account who was raided prior to the event, it is also a violation of First Amendment rights.
The use of "non-lethal" weapons such as tear gas, pepper spray, tasers, and projectiles (flash grenades and concussion "stun" grenades) against protesters, violates state and federal law. Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, once the US ratifies and signs itself into an international treaty, the laws outlined therein also become United States Law, which are binding on all levels of government. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the US in 1992, these acts are illegal by US law. Not to mention the fact, that the UN Human Rights Commission has condemned the use of such weapons against a countries citizenry as a violation of human rights.
What's also of grave concern, is that since September 11th, the protesters can now be have extra charges of terrorism attached to the original charges. This lengthens their sentencing by several years, and is far easier to convict in a court of law, due to the emotional fears that people have with regard to the word terrorism. This means, that laws that are used to convict acts committed by people who are intending to cause loss of human life on a large scale, for political or ideological motivation, are now used on people who are simply exercising their first amendment rights to protest. Even if, those people were planning on acts of civil disobedience, or planning acts of vandalism, the loss of property, is now equal, by these standards to loss of human life on a grand scale.
Not to mention, the charges of conspiracy that are added to the charges on almost all of these protesters, are easy to convict on, as they require very little evidence to prove. Say for instance, that a group of protesters, fearful and tired of acts of police brutality they had just experienced the day before, plan amongst each other, that should it happen again, they would fight back. The act of fighting back need not occur, it just needs to be proven that they said they would. Now they're charged with conspiracy, which carries extra sentencing.
Even more chilling is the historical perspective brought by Naomi Wolf "Once the state legalizes torture of people at the margins, inevitably it will begin to direct state abuse at people at the heart of civil society, and it 's always the same cast of characters: journalists, editors, opposition leaders. And when that starts to happen, society can close down in a heartbeat, because people start to censor themselves."
I am very happy to hear that the ACLU, Amnesty International, and the National Lawyers Guild are calling for, and investigating into what happened during the RNC protests. However, what I hadn't realized prior to these protests, was that ALL of these tactics, and some even worse (!) have been used before, in virtually every single large gathering or protest in the United States since September 11th.
But what can we do? Send a check to the ACLU, to OpEdNews, that would be a good start. But extra-ordinary times call for extra-ordinary measures. Some of the more courageous have dressed up like natives and thrown the tea into the harbor. We all have a chance to be heard by being silent. By not showing up for work, by not going to school, by not buying anything from September 11th through the 15th you can make history. Tell your leaders in no uncertain terms 'Enough is Enough'. We're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!
For strike details visit http://www.votestrike.ning.com
(Specific constitutional infringements and information pertaining to the Supremacy Laws obtained from the National Lawyers Guild. Source: National Lawyers Guild - documents on Punishing Protest https://www.nationallawyersguild.org/NLG_Punishing ... (PDF) )