Dancing In America: The Day Before Memorial Day, 2011

Set your coffee down before you watch this video. Put away any weapons that may be at hand. This will make you so angry… well, I can’t predict what you will want to do, but you really should take the precautions I recommend before you watch this video:

Thomas Jefferson is surely spinning in his grave at the fact that this happened at his own memorial.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Despite at least two “explanations” by the officers, I still do not understand the charges with which the young people were being threatened. It sounded like fabricated, deliberately incomprehensible gobbledygook to me, more an excuse than an explanation. But apparently some individuals were decked and cuffed before they were even given that warning. The whole incident is a terrible abuse of power, and whatever officer or police official ordered it should be fired, plain and simple.

AFTERTHOUGHT: my Dad (see Memorial Day post upstream) didn’t fight W.W. II so Park Police could drag protesters out of the Jefferson Memorial. I know that because Dad verbally expressed his approval (not permission, but approval) of the first demonstration I ever attended, which was against the Vietnam War. I need to go check Dad’s urn to see if his ashes are spinning in it right this moment.

AFTERTHOUGHT: on the thread of the AmericaBlog post, a lot of people seemed to be objecting to the manner of the protest, or the location of the protest, or the alleged “violence” of the protest (WTF?? there is no evidence of violence anywhere in the video… except by the Park Police). I couldn’t resist posting a comment with a quote by Frederick Douglass:

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.


CORRECTION: apparently the episode took place on May 28, not May 29.

AFTERTHOUGHT: looking at the web site shown at the beginning of the video, I note that apparently this protest is by a group with an agenda that is a bit difficult to take, i.e., more than a bit Republican-libertarian. IMHO, this doesn’t matter one bit. Like ’em or not, they have a right to protest peaceably at the Jefferson Memorial… without being decked, cuffed and carted off presumably to jail.

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  • MandT  On Monday May 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Our thoughts are very similar on this one. I posted it at first below my Dad’s memoriam , but thought better of it. He was a war hero, who rarely talked about the war or his horrific experiences—-only to say there are no heroes only those who know terror and walk through it. I’ve used those words to save my ass for going on 65 years now. We live in a police state now. When I see a cop I sense enemy. My dad once said, shortly before he died, that it was OK to go, he didn’t recognize his country anymore.

    • Steve  On Monday May 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      MandT, my experiences with police have been pretty much evenly divided. I try to remind myself of the cop who discovered me with my stalled car at 1:00 AM far from home, and gave me a ride to the nearest open service station, where I arranged a tow. And another cop who escorted me from an antiwar protest (when it was over with) to my car three blocks away in a less-than-safe neighborhood. And another cop who got back in his car and actively pursued some SOB who tried to drive over the curb and straight through a party of anti-Iraq-war demonstrators in the island in the middle of a traffic circle (no one was hurt). I try to forget other minor unpleasant encounters, none of which resulted in my being arrested. So I don’t regard a cop as an enemy, though I am very deliberate about what I say to them. (Besides, think of Bryan of “Why Now?” He was a cop for quite a few years. How could anyone not like and admire him?)

      That said, in many ways you are correct: we live in a society in which our constitutional guarantees are badly treated by many of the police, sometimes with the assistance of legislatures and often with the tacit acquiescence of the courts. The arrival of the “surveillance state” troubles me a great deal, though I am a very public person about almost everything. The kind of thing that happened to this group, however reprehensible I may find some of their views, shouldn’t ever happen to anyone in America… and it could happen to any of us. This must change.

  • MandT  On Monday May 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I know I’m reactionary when it comes to authority, but I never got over an early teenage visit to the deep South during the busing days or Kent State, which has always been my universal icon for the American police state.

  • paintedjaguar  On Thursday June 2, 2011 at 1:17 am

    I do mostly view our paramilitarized police forces as “the enemy” these days. Why not, they are apparently being trained to view the rest of us that way. And the very idea of “free speech zones” makes me want to break out the pitchforks and guillotines.

    That said, from what I can gather there is actually a Parks regulation prohibiting demonstrations INSIDE the national monuments and the people being arrested were apparently protesting that regulation in an oblique fashion (or were just part of a publicity stunt, hard to tell for sure). The regulation itself seems like a reasonable restriction to me. Officer bicycle-pants also seemed like a reasonable guy just trying to get along until he broke out into authoritarian mode.

    At the moment I’m not seeing anybody I want to root for in this.

    • Steve  On Thursday June 2, 2011 at 2:01 am

      Perhaps you’re right, PJ. To me, until the decking-and-cuffing began, it was awfully hard for me to see those people as “protesting” in any way that would obstruct visitors or reduce their enjoyment. Was the dancing the protest that the police objected to? Old Tom himself is subjected to pigeon poop; that seems a greater indignity than he suffered at the hands of any of the “protesters.” But for all my deep respect for our nation’s founders (and I have a great deal of that), I’m not exactly the most reverent guy you’ll ever meet, and in turn I do not expect/demand reverence toward “sacred” people or traditions from other people.

      OT, for some reason, PJ, your comments are not auto-approved as other people’s are after my first explicit approval. I’ll see if I can remedy that so your comments appear right away, but I don’t know quite how to do that ’cause I’m new to WordPress. Thanks for your patience.

  • paintedjaguar  On Thursday June 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Not a problem.

    My tolerance for this particular regulation is largely personal. You couldn’t describe me as reverent either, but there are few enough places you can describe as having a contemplative atmosphere – the Lincoln and Jefferson are choice ones. I’m ok with keeping organized activities outside.

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