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DNC: Protesters and the First Amendment

by Chelsey Perkins 


Tags: Politics, Media, Election 2008, Indepndent Media, Democratic National Convention, DNC, protests, police, police state, First Amendment, protest zones, Democracy Now, American News Project, Colorado Indymedia, Code Pink,

Police Officer Watches Protesters

It isn’t surprising that activists and protesters are speaking out against “the police state” in the streets of Denver. No matter what was going to happen this week at the DNC, there would have been someone out there condemning the actions of the police.

There is real cause for concern, though. Beyond the questionable constitutional legality of the protest zones in the first place, which keep protesters out of view of their intended targets, police working the DNC have so far been involved in several dubious incidents well documented by independent media outlets such as Democracy Now!, the American News Project, and Colorado Indymedia. The Rocky Mountain News also has a provocative video that documented police reaction to a conservative Christian-led protest and counterprotesters. 

Despite some self-declared right-wing bloggers who disagree with the protesters’ message and express outright glee at police actions, it should not matter whether you agree with what they have to say. Those who characterize anyone remotely progressive as “moonbats” often have complaints about how their own movement’s freedom of speech is suppressed. If they are as concerned as they appear to be about their own First Amendment rights, shouldn’t they also be concerned about the First Amendment rights of all citizens, including their far-left counterparts?

It’s one thing to disagree with a message, and it’s another to champion the suppression of that message. I mean, come on, there are reports of no badge identification displayed by some of the arresting officers? Police forcing even those who stood on the sidewalks, and not the city streets—many of whom were not protesting—to remain surrounded by police in riot gear for two hours? And throwing down and hitting a Code Pink protester with a baton when she asked an officer why he made an arrest?

These aren't things anyone should champion, no matter their political allegiance.

Image by zenobia_joy, licensed under Creative Commons.

For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Democratic National Convention, click here.