Occupy San Francisco, SFPD And The Rights Of Assembly And Petition

Another one bites the dust“. Here’s Kevin Gosztola of FDL:

Early Wednesday morning, 2 am PST,  hundreds of San Francisco police (SFPD) arrived at Justin Herman Plaza, the site of Occupy San Francisco.

Occupiers were asleep. They woke up to find they had five minutes to get their belongings and leave the Plaza. The city, like others, declared the encampment a “health hazard” and was using public safety and health as a pretext to shut down the occupation.

Five minutes was not enough time to clean up or collect personal items. It was not enough time to take down many of the tents and save them from being destroyed by dump trucks. And over the course of the next hour, according to an SF Appeal live blog, the situation escalated with motorcycles and additional police arriving to cordon off the area with yellow tape.

Surrounded, about twenty stood their ground and were arrested. Then, thirty more were arrested on Market Street after police asked them to get off the street and they didn’t. And, by 5 am, more had been arrested bringing the total number of arrests to about seventy (two were charged with aggravated assault).

Davey D reported fully functional bikes, entire backpacks with computers and the life savings of homeless people were all thrown away. Male officers searched peaceful female occupiers, which led to complaints of male officers feeling them up. The SFPD also rubbed one occupier’s face in the pavement, and on the UStream they could be seen sneering and laughing about the raid.

(Boldface mine.)

Now it is not my intention to chronicle the takedown of each individual Occupy location by gleeful local police; that would be (and I believe, is) a blog unto itself.

What I will remind you, though, is that a few weeks ago I remarked that one valid interpretation of the goals of the Occupy movement as a whole was the re-establishment of our First Amendment rights of peaceable assembly and petition for redress of grievances.

As things have transpired, not entirely unexpectedly and probably more usefully, Occupy… the literally dozens of cities, towns and campuses occupied from early October and since dispersed by police… has established emphatically that we do NOT have the rights of assembly and petition. And indeed, it appears that whether any group has these rights or not… clearly the Tea Party has them, and Occupy does not… depends entirely on the content of their speech. So along with assembly and petition, cross out free speech from your copy of the First Amendment.

Can freedom of religion be far behind? how about freedom of the press? When and how will those be whacked?

This is intolerable, and cannot stand. The best approach to making certain it does not stand is not yet clear to me. But I’m pretty sure that whirring sound I hear is all of our nation’s Founders spinning in their graves.

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  • jams o donnell  On Wednesday December 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    The mindset that is prevailing in the US scares me. Have a look at this one where a fracker is calling dissent to this questionable (ahem) process an insurgency


    The more I see such words the more dismayed and fearful I am. And it is leeching across the Atlantic too

    • Steve  On Wednesday December 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      jams, I am chagrined but not surprised. I worked in the “awl bidness” as a contract programmer for a number of years, and quickly learned that no one on the staff… literally no one… had even remotely liberal politics, or was even a member of the Democratic Party (which hasn’t really been liberal in years). Yes, those people would indeed see anti-fracking activism as “counterinsurgency,” and they wouldn’t be talking about pushing to be first in the checkout line in the coffee shop.

      I am still trying to figure out if this is just a momentary jump toward minimal fascism in government, or if it’s the real thing, and we can expect to be living under a totalitarian state in a short time. Hey, we’ve already had one rigged presidential election…

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