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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 10/5/09

We Were Arrested for Speaking

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Then the police horses came at us. The police tried to drive us into the street with their horses, but we lay down on the sidewalk, and they didn't trample us. Instead they put police tape around a huge area, moved everyone else out of it, gave three warnings, and began arresting people. We lay on the sidewalk for approximately two hours, rode with lights and sirens blaring in an escorted caravan of vans and buses to the jail, and were out within an hour with tickets to pay $100 fines or challenge in court.

The crime? Exercising free speech in a group of more than 25 people. Seriously. We're charged with failing to obey a lawful order. And the order was to move farther away from the White House because with more than 25 people you have to have a special permit in order to exercise free speech. At least 50 of us, maybe closer to 100, went to jail, while many more chose to comply with the lawful (if unconstitutional) order.

And what did the Park Police SWAT team do? Nothing but follow orders. They followed orders to the exclusion of all thought. They asked us not to encourage them to think. They didn't want to think about freedom of speech. They didn't want to think about arresting nonviolent people for peacefully demanding peace. They didn't want to think about whether protesting illegal wars actually constitutes something closer to law enforcement than what they themselves were engaged in. And they certainly didn't want to think about the men and women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan who will die because the US Park Police arrested peaceful people assembling and speaking, rather than arresting war criminals like Richard Cheney who confess to felonies on television and lives right across the river.

David Swanson is the author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 
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