There were eight police on horseback, the horses also wearing riot gear covering their face with plastic and the police troops riding them were wearing helmets and riot gear as well. They were accompanied by police with police dogs, two buses and an armored vehicle. There were numerous other police from Prince William County, Manassas and Quantico.
Five different police forces were involved in responding to the flower-laying threat. Quite a show of paramilitary force to stop a flower-laying ceremony by five vets and a military mom!
There was no violence from the peace protesters who had all pledged to be non-violent at the event. Some of the protesters were treated roughly by the paramilitary police.
What was the root cause of this expensive and unnecessary show of force? The Marine Command insisting that vets could not lay flowers at a public war memorial.
Did they forget their oath? "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."
Perhaps the most important part of the U.S. Constitution is the First Amendment which protects Freedom of Speech, Assembly and Petitioning the government. The language is clear: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Rather than defending the Constitution, the actions of the Quantico Marine Command are undermining critical constitutional guarantees and violating the soldier's oath.
As a result of the events on March 20, 32 people have been arrested.
Daniel Ellsberg said when the magistrate
told him the charge was "unlawful assembly" he thought: "Unlawful
assembly? I thought of that as a pre-Revolutionary charge: 'Disperse,
ye rabble! Go to your homes!' I was under the belief that the First
Amendment -- protecting the right peaceably to assemble to petition for
redress of grievances was supposed to change all that.
"Could there be a clearer description of what we were doing -- right at the immediate site of one of the grievances? Granted, we were in a highway: but the State Police had blocked off that road themselves, for the period of our assembly: we weren't even 'disrupting traffic.'"
Now, it goes to the Prince William Courts. It will be an opportunity for the courts to enforce and protect the most basic constitutional rights of Americans, or an opportunity to turn those guarantees into a farce.
Videos of the March 20 event and related protests:
Symptoms of a Police State?
Police brutality against Col. Ann Wright and Daniel Ellsberg at Free Bradley Manning Protest
The Uncommon Valor of Bradley Manning
Hundreds Rally for Bradley Manning at White House, Dozens Arrested for Free Speech
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