DNC: Protesters and the First Amendment

[excerpt] 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.

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DNC: Protesters and the First Amendment
8/27/2008 11:56:39 AM

by Chelsey Perkins

1st Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Abriding the freedom of speech. Fill in any picture of the truck full and lines of the riot police here. There's also the closing of Civic Center park and the raid on the convergence center to consider. And of course the shunting of non-approved speech to a fenced in area in a back corner of the parking lot.

right of the people peaceably to assemble I can't think of any act of violence by any protester that I've heard of this weekend. In my times out and around town, I haven't seen any sign of any intended violence. Therefore, every assembly by protesters this week was the 'people peaceably' assembling. The riot police walked all over this one this week.

to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The IVAW march was able to deliver a letter. After a opposition from the riot police and a long tense standoff. My impression is that the only reason they were able to do this was because the Obama camp didn't want pictures of the riot police beating up vets in uniform to go out. Otherwise, any other protester or group in Denver this week was completely blocked and barred from speaking with our officials about any redress of our grievences.

And, just to come back to some of the pre-convention court fights, go back to the top and re-read the original text of the 1st Amendment. Note carefully that the words 'when permitted by the government' never appear in that text. This whole system of having to go beg the government to grant a permit in order that we might then be able to partially use these rights is clearly not what the citizens of the 1780's had in mind when they insisted that these rights be added to the Constitution before they approved it.

Never forget that these rights are a critical part of the deal that created the US government. The citizens of the US in the 1780's rejected the Constitution without the Bill of Rights. This government would not exist without these promises to the people that our basic rights will be protected. Its a fundamental part of the deal, and if the government is no longer honoring its part of the bargain, it calls into question the validity of the entire agreement and thus of the very existence of this government.