These are not isolated incidents. Throughout the last
several years, what occurred at the RNC has been occurring at every large protest, sometimes with even worse. Since terrorism is being used as a crutch to restrict civil liberties even further, we need to speak out on this. Now, and always, we must speak out and defend ourselves against such infringements.
From Amnesty International: "some of the police actions
appear to have breached United Nations (U.N.) standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials. These stipulate, among other things,that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed, and should be designed to minimize damage or injury."
Maybe you are happy with your civil liberties. Some of us are not. It's not a case of move when you are told. It's a case of drawing a line. For a bunch of us the government has stepped over the line. You should be thankful that people are reminding them that they cannot cross certain lines.
St. Paul police chief John Harrington outlined his policy towards reporters covering demonstrations in a September 3 press conference. Arrest first, ask questions later: Harrington told Amy Goodman that the police can't possibly be expected to differentiate between protesters and credentialed journalists covering protests.
The torture, sadism, and abuse of the Minneapolis Police, St. Paul Police, Ramsey County Sheriffs (and out of town departments) unleashed upon protesters, press, passers-by, and community members took place while Homeland Security and the Secret Service they control were in direct command of all area "law" enforcement and had final authority over all decisions about protests and protesters. In other words, what we saw in the Twin Cities shows us how American local "law" enforcement act in broad daylight when the Feds are on the scene and supervising their work.
Over the last week, we had a chance to observe de facto professional cultural norms in America's local, state, and Federal enforcement. This is what democracy looks like?
What happened to people in local communities of color who weren't even associated with the protests? Here's what Rebecca Trotzky-Sirr, a fourth-year Univ. of Minnesota medical student learned when she interviewed a local resident on behalf of United Communities Against Police Brutality:
While much attention has been paid to arrests of prominent journalists & protesters harsh treatment during arrests, in the streets of St Paul many community members feel invisible as they live out the RNC protest repercussions. Undocumented families, refugees have been staying away from their homes in highly patrolled areas near downtown St Paul in fear of encountering police by accident. I visited and documented a gentleman of color who had no prior criminal history, who was detained without cause near central St Paul. During his arrest, while handcuffed he was beat by a police officer. The victim had recently had major surgery, released from hospital less than a week prior. Later, during booking, the same officer punched him repeatedly in the head and neck in front of other officers who looked on without concern. When police realized that this man was severely injured, they drove him one block away from the hospital and let him limp his way to the ER.
There are powerful forces in the U.S., as elsewhere, that will labor to secure their wealth & power, whatever the human cost. They will succeed, if they are not opposed by an informed & committed public. Political rights do not originate in the halls of Congress; they are rather forced upon them from without.
You don't win your rights because somebody writes it down in a law, & you don't lose your rights because somebody writes it down in a law. You win your rights by struggle & you maintain your rights by struggle.
Strikes in the past have brought about monumental changes in society & the government. Such as: the 8 hour work day, child-labor laws, woman's right to vote & civil rights legislation.
Join millions of Americans this September 11th to the 15th in nation-wide civil disobedience. No work, no school, no shopping. Enough is enough. Shut 'em down.