Sunday 5 June 2011

Escalation in the police state

The videos Alex posted (I caught them via BoingBoing), along with MR comments on the video, induce despair. [See also TechDirt]

Subsequent to a judicial decision that it is right and proper that the US government use force to prevent people from dancing at the Jefferson Memorial, a flash-mob tested it by wearing earphones and dancing while at the Memorial. And some were thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

Commenter Ben at MR writes:
The whole point of liberty is that you can do what ever you want until it infringes on other peoples ability to do what they want. These people set out to deliberately confront the police and make a scene, infringing on the ability of everyone else to enjoy the monument.

I think these officers behaved entirely appropriately, and removed a bunch of people who were causing a disruption, resisting arrest, and causing an unsafe environment for normal Americans trying to enjoy a day at the monument.
He's joined by others of similar mind at TechDirt.

I wonder what fraction of the US population, or the Canadian one for that matter, would be willing to pay to get to watch a hippie be beaten by police, or share Homer Simpson's fantasy of driving a plow truck through a crowd of protesters.

I wasn't there so I don't know great a disruption was caused by the dancing prior to police intervention. But wouldn't a more sensible police approach have been to just dance with the flash mob for fifteen minutes 'till the crowd decided to disperse? Unfortunately, that option was closed once the park police asked folks to stop and people continued quietly and nonviolently dancing.

The point of civil disobedience is to force the cops' hand to get exactly the kind of video Alex linked: a disproportionate police response to nonviolent behaviour. There was little chance the cops would back down after the request to disperse was ignored, and no way that the cops wouldn't come out looking terrible. When peaceful behaviour is made illegal, this is about the best way of showing the law to be an ass. When enough folks side with Ben, above, in cases like this or in far far worse cases of police abuse, peaceful folks ought to consider their exit options.

I'd hoped to take the kids to the Jefferson Memorial as we're in town. But the three year old and the one year old dance spontaneously. Going home to earthquakes is seeming less bad...

1 comment:

  1. The scary thing is look how attentive the police state is!