by Tony, Paterson, NJ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jefferson_Memorial_(1).jpg
A few days back, I ran across this article and video, and was left speechless. Here’s a link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/30/jefferson-memorial-dancing-arrests_n_868719.html
To summarize, a while back some people celebrated Thomas Jefferson’s birthday by silently dancing at his memorial. Police asked them to leave, but they refused and were arrested. To protest this, a small group returned and danced again. Five were arrested on charges of demonstrating without a permit.
I’m sure that’s legal, if not super in line with the traditional ‘American way’ of freedom of expression. What bothered me most was the police behavior in the video. Several times you see them grab people and push or even throw them to the floor, then lay on top of them, struggling to keep them still or get them cuffed. (I’m not sure exactly what they were doing, the video was a bit unclear.) Police also told one protester to “shut up”. Freedom of speech?
Best of all, the police start shepherding everyone with a camera out of the memorial. An officer takes one man’s camera in the background, then grabs either his neck or shoulder and pushes him around a corner. The person taking the video is told that if he continues to record, he’ll be arrested. On what grounds?
Maybe all of this is legal. But it shouldn’t be. Since when do police attack and arrest people for a peaceful protest that harms no one? Since when are we not allowed to see the actions of our own law enforcement, the people who are supposed to keep us safe?
Ominously, as the evicted tourists mill around the outside of the memorial, one of the dancers can be heard shouting “This is a police state”. No, we’re not that bad. Yet. But if behavior like this is tolerated, we can easily set our feet on that path.
It’s just rather ironic, that our rights are limited on the very memorial of someone who fought for freedom.