15 November 2011

Hell No -- We Won't Go‼

The Occupy Movement needs to be recognized as a fundamental exercise of peaceable assembly rights, with some degree of peaceable civil disobedience admixed.

Thus, while the polities may have an arguable right to maintain restrictions against, for example, camping and tents, and those who want to defy these restrictions will have to accept that they do so at risk of arrest, it can also be said that in recognition of the importance of the right to petition for the redress of grievances, city governments should be as flexible as possible.

But having said that, when it comes to people refusing to leave, the police clearly have no right to mace and molest peaceable protesters, or, indeed, to forcibly remove them. The 1st Amendment is quite clear about an unqualified right of assembly and petition of grievance.

Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. 

The word is abridging, not prohibiting. Macing people who refuse to break up an assembly is abridging. It is the mayor and the police who are violating the law of the land here, not the OSW protesters.

(I trust I need not belabor the post Civil War constitutional changes that apply the First Amendment's strictures to all levels of government).

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