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"Guys, just stop." "Stop what?" "Dancing."
May 28, 2011 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Adam Kokesh served in Fallujah as a Marine, then got in hot water for appearing at an anti-war protest in uniform. This weekend, he was brutalized by US Park police for silently dancing at the Jefferson Memorial as part of a small flash mob. The event was captured on video, which is fascinating and surreal.
posted by eugenen (241 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is simply horrifying. What possess these fucktards to think they have any business protecting the Jefferson Memorial?
posted by zachlipton at 11:22 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fucking. Pigs.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:22 PM on May 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ. Protecting the memorial from what?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:24 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we all sleep better tonight knowing the Jefferson Memorial survived that Waltz attack.
posted by inturnaround at 11:27 PM on May 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


Wow, I guess someone's protecting the US from irrational exuberance.
posted by darkstar at 11:29 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how police just routinely utter "stop resisting" as a way to cover their asses.

No, wait, I don't like that at all.
posted by adipocere at 11:31 PM on May 28, 2011 [36 favorites]


Provo voor alle tijden.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 11:31 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I attended a college my first two years (before intelligently transferring) that was affiliated with a Christian denomination that actually believed that Dancing was an expression of the Sin of Lust, therefore all dancing, with someone or alone, was banned on campus. It was the 1970s and there were students who got in as much trouble for doing The Funky Chicken as the one (and only one) who got caught Streaking.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:34 PM on May 28, 2011


I know three men who are police officers. Two of them are decent human beings. The third one once told me, in an alcohol-induced fit of honesty, that he became a policeman because he enjoyed the power it gave him over other people.
posted by pguertin at 11:39 PM on May 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


So apparently now it's resisting arrest when you don't give the pig your arm, even though his pig buddy is sitting on your back, and that arm is pinned beneath you.

Goddamn fucking pig cops. Jesus!

Can't wait to see how the police apologists spin this one. No, really. Have at it, guys.
posted by xedrik at 11:39 PM on May 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's late so maybe it'll be a bit before we get the "Yeah but they were really annoying so they deserved it" comments.
posted by zoinks at 11:42 PM on May 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Lol Ok here you go. This isn't brutality. They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high. The cops seemed to do everything by the book, nobody got hurt and this post is outragefilter nonsense. How'd I do?

Sure these cops are dicks but thats not exactly Drudge siren worthy. I'm into actual civil liberties like the freedom from cops shooting me in my home, not really shedding any tears for people who set out to get arrested at a National Monument and get their wish on camera.

K goodnight!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:46 PM on May 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


adipocere: "I like how police just routinely utter "stop resisting" as a way to cover their asses."

What do you do about cops who pull this shit?
What do you do when cops who pull this shit get preferential treatment in courts?
What do you do when cops who pull this shit get preferential treatment from the people who make the law?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:48 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like how the cop had no answer for what law was being broken by dancing.
posted by marble at 11:50 PM on May 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wish I knew, dunkadunc. As far as I can tell, modeling cop behavior involves more rules like "Always escalate," "Police authority must always be respected," "We can put cuffs on you whenever," and "feeble coverup" more than "serve and protect."

Nobody was protected here.

The only serving was that of police interests.
posted by adipocere at 11:51 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This whole thing is puzzling to me as a Canadian. Why can't you dance at the memorial? And why would you want to?

I don't see why the police would care. But I also don't see why people would push it when the cops announce they do care. But here people usually dance in public spaces alone.
posted by showmethecalvino at 11:58 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


They were there to protest this recent court decision, Oberwetter v. Hilliard which designates the Jefferson Memorial as "non-public" forum. They were there specifically to protest by dancing and thus were required to obtain a permit.

I'm not condoning the police action (I got very tense watching the video), just trying to provide some context.
posted by andlee210 at 11:59 PM on May 28, 2011 [21 favorites]


Where's Matt?
posted by dobbs at 12:00 AM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I am not kidding at all when I confess that upon watching this video initially I just assumed it was a viral video satire put out by a comedy troupe of some sort about outrageously overzealous police officers (after all, how else would you explain something so absurd as a person whose only crime was doing The Robot being violently slammed to the ground and choked), and was quite horrified to discover I was mistaken
posted by The Gooch at 12:00 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well okay goodnight, PA. I gotta hit the hay too, but I am open to thinking about it (as well as making a cheap joke). I don't know if these folks went there intending to get arrested or just have a goof, but they clearly bowed up once they were threatened with arrest and invited it at that point. But come on, the cops surely could've never had it get to that point even. De-escalation is not a dirty word. Especially these officers who have probably dealt with real protesters before, you'd think seeing a few jokers dancing they might handle better.
And really, even if they were thinking of getting arrested from the get-go, this response is still idiotic. Why make something out of nothing?
Hell, I even agree that once the arrests started the cops acted just like they normally do. I've been arrested by DC police before myself and treated far, far worse. But the point is that this stupid joke or whatever it was should never have even come to that.
posted by zoinks at 12:05 AM on May 29, 2011


I got halfway through that video and was so depressed by it all that I had to go and watch that video with the dogs fighting crime again. Now I shall imagine that this ends with them busting in and rescuing everyone.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:05 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Even if they were actually demonstrating at the memorial, how is that illegal? Isn't it public property?

On preview: They were there to protest this recent court decision, Oberwetter v. Hilliard which designates the Jefferson Memorial as "non-public" forum. They were there specifically to protest by dancing and thus were required to obtain a permit.

Out of curiosity, where can people actually assemble without fear of being arrested?
posted by howlingmonkey at 12:06 AM on May 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


Well that could have been handled better. Where the fuck was the mace?
posted by the noob at 12:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


can't wait to be updated on the charges. wish our cops could take some notes from the Egyptian cops when people are protesting an unjust regiem
posted by Redhush at 12:07 AM on May 29, 2011


If you give up a couple years of your life to go live in some foreign sandbox to "protect America's freedoms" you should be able to dance wherever you damn well please. And so should everyone else because you "protected their freedoms".
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [55 favorites]


What andlee210 just posted. Don't protest on The Mall without a permit. These people knew exactly what they were doing and had every intention of being arrested. Funny how this FPP was spun into a cop hate fest, with no context.
posted by stbalbach at 12:08 AM on May 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's late so maybe it'll be a bit before we get the "Yeah but they were really annoying so they deserved it" comments.

Wellllll, I don't know if this qualifies, but it did irk me when the couple who first got cuffed claimed not to hear the desist with the dancing command. Not that anyone should have been arrested in the first place, bodyslammed onto a stone floor, or be subjected in any way to ridiculous and arbitrary and violent exercise of petty power in the enforcement of a law that strikes me as being pretty stupid and wrong-headed, I just think it undermined their position when they pretended their dancing was a spontaneous.

If your cause is just (And theirs was), you should not disown your challenge.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:11 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Support our troops!

Except you know, when they're waltzing
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 AM on May 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


Bizarre. I wouldn't call it police brutality, since they were given plenty of warnings, and the guy they slammed into the ground wasn't following orders. But arresting for dancing just seems ridiculous.

Why not just let it go? Just because you're required to get a permit doesn't mean that the cops are required to arrest you
posted by delmoi at 12:14 AM on May 29, 2011 [20 favorites]


Well Alvy I was kind of just making a dumb joke/prediction there, but I don't think your comment qualifies. I pretty much feel the same as you, but emphasize that the response was unnecessary.
If your offense is petty (and theirs was), you should be scolded and laughed at, and cut some slack.
posted by zoinks at 12:19 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's awesome that silently dancing in place can qualify as a "protest" that requires a permit. Maybe we can get looking at a thing or talking to a person or standing the fuck still classified as a form of protest so cops can just arrest whoever needs arresting at that particular moment. To protect the public interest.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:22 AM on May 29, 2011 [43 favorites]


They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high.

No, they were just hanging out silently dancing. The cops could have just as easily ignored them. Or, even better, joined them, taken them by the hand, and waltzed them out of the rotunda. Which would have been awesome and funny and human and reasonable.

But cops can't do that. Because it's absolutely illegal and a criminal offense to ever challenge a cop about anything whatsoever.

Oh, wait. No it isn't. They all just fucking act like it is.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:23 AM on May 29, 2011 [103 favorites]


Definitely bizarre. I could really use some feel-good cop stories to balance out all the 'bad cop' stories. I know it's important to document when civil rights are infringed and people overstep their authority, but the internet has been making me have zero faith in police ever doing the right thing (and I don't think that's good.) This post almost did me in with one stroke.
posted by MrFTBN at 12:25 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


First: I am appalled that this descended into police-hate-filter. This is most definitely a case of Judiciary-outrage-filter for the lousy ruling in Oberwetter v. Hilliard (as mentioned above).

Second: I think we might be able to recognize our relative position on the slippery slope here. People are saying that it was wrong to dance/demonstrate on the national mall without a permit. I don't think I can read that sentence enough to get over who fucking, fantastically sad it is.

Third: Its too bad these guys didn't show up with another hundred thousand or so people.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:26 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high.

Depressing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


In other news, police have arrested a number of people who were alleged to have been humming 4' 33" in unison without holding a protest permit.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [29 favorites]


Oberwetter v. Hilliard didn't throw anyone to the ground.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


It looks to me like they did $7 million in damage to memorial, just like in Wisconsin!
posted by Brocktoon at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Man. America. I'm going to go have a drink.
posted by showmethecalvino at 12:33 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The FPP didn't provide any context, and thanks to those in the thread that did.

HOWEVER, I like that there was no context in the post. It's good for us to look at things like this without context. When it comes down to it, all that happened here was people "dancing" next to a statue, and getting arrested for it. Keep that in mind while you discuss the intricacies of the case.
posted by auto-correct at 12:34 AM on May 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


And what's with everyone else just standing around watching? I don't mean the people who were part of this group, I mean the random Jefferson Memorial visitors. It's great that this was captured on video, but couldn't we at least get a chant of "shaaaaaaaame" going?

Frankly, the only real way to ensure that nonsense like this isn't going to happen is if the the cops legitimately fear that they are going to be attacked by an angry mob of onlookers. Mob justice sucks for a whole host of reasons, but I've to to assume that this wouldn't have happened if one or more of these power hungry assholes thought they might wind up at the bottom of a throng of enraged onlookers.

And I'm not at all appalled that this descended into police-hate-filter. The court decision isn't the problem here; it's a bunch of gun-toting jerks who were excited that they got to slam around a bunch of liberals who had the audacity to dance in public. Personally, I was filled with an enormous amount of hate when I watched this video, and based on the comments here I wasn't the only one with that reaction.

I don't hate all police. In fact I'm thankful to the many professional and dedicated officers who we all rely on to keep us safe. I do hate bullies with badges and guns, and I especially hate those (and I include their bosses in this category, since I realize that individual patrol officers aren't wholly responsible here) who think the best use of their time is to lock up a couple of dancers who caused no trouble to anyone whatsoever, while standing in the middle of a city that sees over 200 homicides a year along with countless rapes, assaults, and robberies. Once people stop shooting each other on the streets of DC, dancing at public monuments can be a higher enforcement priority.
posted by zachlipton at 12:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been wanting this to happen to those ImprovEverywhere people for years now. Send those cops to NYC ASAP.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Utterly ridiculous reason to arrest anybody, but fuck, liberals can be so annoying.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:40 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." It's carved right on the inside of the Jeff Memorial dome...
posted by killdevil at 12:40 AM on May 29, 2011 [46 favorites]


They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high.

Why hello there, police state! Here to stay or just popping in for a visit?
posted by Avenger at 12:43 AM on May 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


Utterly ridiculous reason to arrest anybody, but fuck, liberals can be so annoying.

Yes, because it's not annoying at all to be slammed to the ground, handcuffed, and thrown in jail for having the audacity to dance in a public park.
posted by zachlipton at 12:43 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is the "don't tase me bro" of 2011.

And like that video, we should be scrutinizing how objective it actually is. Is there a non-edited video taken by an incidental bystander?
posted by FJT at 12:45 AM on May 29, 2011


liberals can be so annoying

You know what else is annoying? Using labels like "liberals" and "conservative" as insults, and then making blanket statements with them.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:50 AM on May 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


This video is so fucking insane. It's appalling that this happened, and it's even more appalling that the threat of something like this happening is pretty much a constant spectre for those of us who are not white, dancing or no.
posted by threeants at 12:52 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


the audacity to dance in a public park.

The Memorial is non-public property. They were dancing in protest of that fact. Without a permit. In a place where protests are not allowed anyway. They intentionally and knowingly broke the law to make a point.

So really the question comes down to if you think protests should be allowed inside the Jefferson Memorial. Personally, as a visitor, I'd rather it remain off limits to protestors.
posted by stbalbach at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


God forbid you should be annoyed by something.
posted by Aquaman at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


I mean non-public forum
posted by stbalbach at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2011


Personally, as a visitor

Why visit a memorial to someone whose work you don't care for?
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:58 AM on May 29, 2011 [61 favorites]


Man, your policemen are shite.
posted by fullerine at 1:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


So really the question comes down to if you think protests should be allowed inside the Jefferson Memorial. Personally, as a visitor, I'd rather it remain off limits to protestors.

Okay, why do we think the Jefferson Memorial should be off-limits from protests? Let's assume it's not just for irony's sake.

A good argument might be that the last thing we need in a nice place like the Jefferson Memorial is a bunch of idiots waving signs and chanting stupid slogans and being annoying. Does a bunch of people dancing around look anything like that? Were they creating a disruption? Were they causing problems? It really doesn't look like it, does it?

One of the reasons we give police officers such incredible latitude in their conduct is that we trust that they'll apply the law in a way that makes sense. Like, if I'm carrying a bread knife and a loaf of sourdough to a neighbor's party, I don't expect to be arrested for brandishing a 8" bladed weapon. The police here are intentionally acting like absurdist automota, enforcing a law which is only being violated in the most abstract way possible.

We can't allow police a huge range of conduct without also holding them accountable for how they exercise that range. It's nearly impossible, for example, to successfully prosecute a police officer who kills someone while on duty, even if it appears to be entirely in cold blood (google Ian Birk). It can be the case that the officers were acting within the bounds of letter of the law and abusing their power. Those things are not mutually exclusive. It's entirely a design feature of the system that police officers are never held responsible for failing to stop a victimless crime. We expect them to prioritize, triage, filter, and use judgment about when people need to be arrested and when they don't. It's the only sane way to run a society.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:09 AM on May 29, 2011 [39 favorites]


Utterly ridiculous reason to arrest anybody, but fuck, liberals can be so annoying.

Yeah, so can people. Just people, very often annoying. Yep, even conservative people, or did you miss that whole Tea Party fiasco the last couple years?
posted by IvoShandor at 1:11 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The irony of this happening under an oath of eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man is, I presume, somewhat lost on the Park Police. Should protests not be allowed inside the memorial, I'd suggest sandblasting that little bit of wisdom off the rotunda. God forbid anyone's love of country be tarnished by reference to such troubling concepts as tyranny.

Bah. That was the one bit of American Fascist architecture I liked in D.C., too...
posted by Vetinari at 1:13 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's great that this was captured on video, but couldn't we at least get a chant of "shaaaaaaaame" going?
That sounds like protesting to me.

Also,

Metafilter: violating the law in the most abstract way possible.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, what law was being broken?
posted by chanology at 1:22 AM on May 29, 2011


So... there was a court case which decided that a founding father's memorial was a space in which you could abridge "freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble"?

Um... it's the first of the bill of rights. It's the first fucking one. Congress shall make no law, etc. Protests aren't allowed? Dancing isn't allowed? They most certainly are. Always and forever. Unless you amend the Constitution. They were holding the most peaceable assembly imaginable. You can't be arrested for that.

It's especially ridiculous that he couldn't even name a law under which they would be arrested. Just that they would be held for the weekend because they wouldn't be able to process the false arrest more quickly than that. Bullshit.
posted by team lowkey at 1:23 AM on May 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


So, what law was being broken?

It doesn't really matter, these days, does it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 AM on May 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


And yet LaRouchies can infest Trader Joe's Entrances like ticks with impunity.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:32 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Inscribed in a frieze below the dome:
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
posted by adamvasco at 1:35 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


at 9:48 (and maybe earlier?) the officer clearly strikes the camera.
posted by Shit Parade at 1:38 AM on May 29, 2011


They hate us for our freedom.
posted by scelerat at 1:42 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Upon watching that, I'm left with the feeling that there's no place I'd rather dance more — even knowing I'd be body-slammed and cuffed.

Dance Dance Revolution!
posted by defenestration at 1:55 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


GUYS THe JEFFERSON MEMORIAL IS NOT YOUR FREE SPEECH ZONE OK
posted by Hoopo at 2:11 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


..aaaanndd the hoommmmeee of the braaaaavvveee
posted by fire&wings at 2:14 AM on May 29, 2011


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:15 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism.
--Thomas Jefferson
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:18 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:15 AM on 5/29
[+] [!]


I generally despise pro-lifers but it's their monument too. If they want to pantomime little fetii with angel wings under the watchful stony gaze of our first atheist President, they should be able to do so. Hell, Jefferson apparently loved making babies, so why not?

Besides, this is all a moot point anyway. The real Jefferson would have vomited blood at the thought of a massive taxpayer-funded monumental sculpture in his likeness. That and putting other presidents on our currency: two things that he would have (rightly) associated with despotic regimes and would have violently resisted.

Slavery was cool, though. Complex man, he was.
posted by Avenger at 2:41 AM on May 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.

That's the risk of living in a free country. Or at least it should be.

Christ, the end of empires is never pretty.
posted by maxwelton at 2:47 AM on May 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


Guys, your whole country is Footlose and Kevin Bacon hasn't been sighted in years.
posted by No-sword at 3:01 AM on May 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Men given polite but firm warning by cops not to do something continue to do said thing and are arrested. Cry me a river emo protectors.
posted by Damienmce at 3:18 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given the size of our country, unlimited protest rights would mean that public spaces like the Mall could be under 24-7 encampment. It's sort of unfortunate, but physical spaces can only hold a fixed number of people at a time. I doubt that the problem would be that serious; I walk by an abortion-providing clinic in downtown Chicago and I'd say it's only protested once a month.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:29 AM on May 29, 2011


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.

It looked to me like they were dancing quietly and unthreateningly, just doing the hucklebuck or whatever it is kids do these days. I don't see any giant signs and I don't hear any chants or music. Were those edited out of the video?

And for all we know, there were pro-lifers dancing at the memorial. This Kokesh guy is some sort of Republican Libertarian former US Marine, and he called for this dance in response to a previous dance at the same place and the court's decision that such dancing is illegal at the Jefferson Memorial, so pretty much anyone might have been there this time.

I wonder what else you aren't allowed to do at the Jefferson Memorial. Would knitting be OK? Or would granny get slammed to the ground and charged with carrying dangerous weapons?
posted by pracowity at 3:29 AM on May 29, 2011


Oh, and since this unnecessary escalation and violence happened to white people it will probably get on national news.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:30 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What specifically was the brutality bit? I didn't see any pepper spray, tasering, rubber bullets or head smashing.
posted by humanfont at 3:40 AM on May 29, 2011


Well crap. As far as I'm concerned, other than the poor people who weren't involved in that, both sides of that confrontation were acting like idiots.

As mentioned upstream, the protesters knew exactly what they were doing, as mentioned upstream the cops were enforcing a law (they didn't make, by the way) as was their job (this is not to condone what seemed like excessive force, they looked poorly trained to handle this type of situation).

I've been involved in a LOT of protests, my wife has been arrested at Ft. Benning protesting the SOA. You don't resist. If you go to get arrested to make a point, by resisting YOU are the one escalating the event to violence.

If there is a stupid law that says you can't dance at the Memorial, and you want your voice heard, provoking a fight with a cop isn't going to make your cause stronger. If they had ended that with the couple getting arrested and handcuffed for that little dance, it would have been a much more powerful message.
posted by tomswift at 3:47 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


As soon as the discussion becomes a slicing-and-dicing of what constitutes free assembly and peaceful demonstration, and who is or isn't being childish, then everything is lost.

This is why we are losing rights. There is no nuance in "God-given right to freely assemble and peacefully demonstrate." Either we believe in the principle as a country or we don't. Period.

Jefferson wept.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:06 AM on May 29, 2011 [31 favorites]


God thing all the protesters were white. Black protesters would likely be facing lengthy re-enslavement in the corporate penal complex. I wonder what Jefferson, the slave owner, would have thought of that.
posted by mareli at 4:10 AM on May 29, 2011


You guys think that's terrible, you should see what that crack troop of bicycling US park police does to mimes and unicyclists.
posted by Skygazer at 4:11 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men given polite but firm warning by cops not to do something continue to do said thing and are arrested.

I really don't get this mindset. Do what the police tells you or else? What a way to run a country.
posted by knapah at 4:19 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


What do you do about cops who pull this shit?
What do you do when cops who pull this shit get preferential treatment in courts?
What do you do when cops who pull this shit get preferential treatment from the people who make the law?


You SING!
posted by mikelieman at 4:23 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


the noob: "Well that could have been handled better. Where the fuck was the mace?"

In the museum with the flail, maul and morning star.
posted by bwg at 4:42 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Wolfster at 4:44 AM on May 29, 2011


Potomac Avenue: "They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high. "

Summertiiiiiiiime
And the dancin' is easy
Cops are warnin'
And the tension is high
posted by bwg at 4:48 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


In this case, I think it's a good thing that the revolution will be televised. I hope this goes viral, and other peoples' jaws drop like mine did in utter incredulity. You want to effect real change? Stir shit up. (Cf. the civil rights movement, suffragettes, gay rights, Iraq veterans against the war...)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I think I find in favor of The Man on this one.
posted by spilon at 5:13 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guys, your whole country is Footlose and Kevin Bacon hasn't been sighted in years.

I'll see what I can do. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:14 AM on May 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


You know, I think I find in favor of The Man on this one.

How so? Really, I'm curious. Because they were procedurally correct - they were calm and explained their intentions beforehand? I'll (maybe) give you that.

But what about the "reasoning" that led to those procedures? Is dancing a scourge on our way of life? Are peaceful political statements on public property (property honoring Thomas Jefferson, no less) "un-American"? Is an articulation of the laws and statutes being broken not necessary?

Procedure is important. But when procedure leads to things like "free-speech zones" and blatant curtailment of basic human rights, the cart is obviously in front of the horse. Defending force here, however restrained and procedurally correct, misses the point, I think.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:24 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


So I'm probably not alone in thinking that the police actions were more disruptive to the general vibe at the memorial than the dancing was.

Also, is that grip to the neck legal?
posted by entropone at 5:34 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


So these people came to troll a non-public forum and the mods flipped out and banned a bunch of accounts even though they couldn't name the exact rules being broken? And the reactions are split between those who think these people didn't technically do anything wrong and those who just wanted to browse the forum in their off hours without distractions? Am I getting this right?
posted by dmit at 5:38 AM on May 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


They courted arrest in protest of a law that says dancing at a memorial is illegal. They believe that it's a violation of the right to freedom of expression. I don't think the police were unnecessarily brutal, but perhaps my gauge is broken in these matters. The real problem is with the court ruling that says that dancing at the Memorial is illegal, I think, rather than the fact that the police arrested them.
posted by bardophile at 5:51 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Out of curiosity, where can people actually assemble without fear of being arrested?

There is no place where that can happen. The powers that be will always find a way and a reason to try to cite a gathering for being unpermitted if they decide to. This holds true on any piece of property, public or private, in a city or in the middle of nowhere. If They decide you shouldn't be there, They will do whatever they can to make you go away.

Now, this doesn't mean they will always arrest you. But unless you really have numbers on your side, they'll do the arrests just to physically remove you and then will release you without charges.
posted by hippybear at 5:52 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Am I getting this right?

I say no; you are conflating something that is acceptable in the private sphere with something that is acceptable in the public sphere.

We have a Bill of Rights outlining the basic building blocks of our society. The actual tenets from which everything is supposed to flow. If one of those basic tenets is a right to freely assemble and peacefully protest then it should not be acceptable, under any circumstances, to make legislation that curtails that right and then give that legislation greater weight than the Bill of Rights.

The right of the people to protest is the way to fight unjust laws. I'll take a marketplace of ideas over a truncheon anyday.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:53 AM on May 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


So these people came to troll a non-public forum and the mods flipped out and banned a bunch of accounts even though they couldn't name the exact rules being broken? And the reactions are split between those who think these people didn't technically do anything wrong and those who just wanted to browse the forum in their off hours without distractions? Am I getting this right?

I'm not sure that a country should be run the same way as an internet forum. There's an extra couple hundred million people to consider.
posted by gronkpan at 5:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really don't get this mindset. Do what the police tells you or else? What a way to run a country.

well who else's instructions are you suggesting they should be following unquestioningly? yours?

I keed!
posted by russm at 5:55 AM on May 29, 2011


these people weren't arrested for dancing--they were arrested for demonstrating without a permit. once the cops became aware that the dancing was the protest then they went after the dancers. the protest could have been the wearing of silly hats ... and the cops would have busted them.

overall, these people planned this protest to get into a confrontation. they got it.
posted by lester at 5:58 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't care if was a planned protest or not, I've danced at the memorial when I used to live in DC, and it was a hoot. It's a great place for it. Banning it is inane and, yes, a violation of free speech and free assembly.
posted by antinomia at 6:08 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some just set it off.
posted by phoque at 6:09 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand all of it - but please correct me if I have this wrong.

1: Some people ascribe a meaning to doing something. That something literally impacts 0 people, but it can be seen.
2: Some other people, especially some officers, don't like that meaning.
3: Those first people get threatened with arrest for doing the thing that holds that meaning, even if doing that thing almost any time or place else would be completely ok.
4: Then the fun begins with actually being arrested for not complying with a lawful order, blah blah.

Is that it? Really? Contempt of cop, for slowdancing? =(

(Also: It wasn't a bodyslam. It was a Release German Suplex, followed by a choke. #wrestling)
posted by andreaazure at 6:09 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


these people weren't arrested for dancing--they were arrested for demonstrating without a permit.

True.

But accepting that at face value is a refusal to see the deeper issue. What you are accepting is that the issuance of a permit trumps the basic right of the people to peacefully protest. Which is more dangerous?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:12 AM on May 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


Thomas Jefferson is so going to haunt those cops.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:23 AM on May 29, 2011


[[So, what law was being broken?]]

It doesn't really matter, these days, does it?


When Clinton was impeached for perjury, I supported it. Because the ability of our justice system to function was more important than any one president or his policies.

When Barry Bonds - for whom I feel no affection - was put on trial for perjury, I hoped he would beat the rap, even though I believed he was guilty.

As this suggests, I am no longer concerned with - or expect anything from - the American justice system.
posted by Trurl at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


And yet LaRouchies can infest Trader Joe's Entrances like ticks with impunity.

Now that is free speech. Performing an activity at a location that it wasn't intended for, without a permit, say a motorcross flash mob at a public golf course, is a very different activity all together. Because you'd be interfering with the duffers' right to enjoy the public golf course.

Also, this Kokesh character and his activities need to be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Just like Lyndon LaRouche's.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:40 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


the protest could have been the wearing of silly hats ... and the cops would have busted them.

Um, no.
posted by mediareport at 6:42 AM on May 29, 2011


Man, I remember when the whole thing that sparked the Oberwetter case went down. One of my friends is in the videos in the DCist link, and I got a text from him soon after everything happened, boggling at what he'd just seen. I moved away from the city, so I hadn't realized there had been a case pending.

The person arrested in 2008 was silently dancing at midnight and got led off for... nothing? She was held for a few hours and let go, because they knew they couldn't pin anything on her.

DCist, back in 2008, probably quoted the most measured response I've seen to the original incident.
"But they could have anticipated mayhem! There could have been droves of other revelers on the way! They might have been plannign to vandalize the monument! Uh, I guess that's possible. But it seems like like reasonable people could have walked up to someone, asked "Hey, what's going on here?", then rolled their eyes at the weird kids and let them finish with their fifteen minutes of silliness."
Guess reason is quickly flying out the door. I wandered to the Jefferson a few times when I was in DC, either drunk at night or otherwise. I loved being there at all hours, and I definitely watched the sun come up from there a few times. I wonder if eating a bagel on the steps in the early hours of the AM is going to be seen as having a political motive.
posted by SNWidget at 6:42 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know three men who are police officers. Two of them are decent human beings. The third one once told me, in an alcohol-induced fit of honesty, that he became a policeman because he enjoyed the power it gave him over other people.
posted by pguertin at 7:39 AM on May 29


Have you ever seen the first two drunk to the point of careless honesty? I hope so, because in my personal experience of police officers, two out of three is better than not bad. But then I've probably had too much exposure to the Met.
posted by Decani at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those interested in finding out exactly what he will be charged with, this is the DC Superior Court online case system. It looks like Adam Kokesh has prior charges for unlawful assembly/incommoding, which I'm guessing will be the charge here.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 AM on May 29, 2011


Christ, what fucking assholes.

In related news:
For anarchist, details of life as FBI target -- "One organizer of anticorporate protests is among dozens of political activists to come under scrutiny of counterterrorism operations."
posted by ericb at 7:06 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I met Adam Kokesh once! He was my hero then and he's still my hero now.
posted by fuq at 7:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If they had ended that with the couple getting arrested and handcuffed for that little dance, it would have been a much more powerful message.

A great thought in theory, and probably right 90% of the time.

But this story is spreading because the incident didn't stop there. They're getting a ton of attention because the police escalated force at a rate radically disproportionate to the escalation the "protestors" had to invest.

Clearly, without context and after an initial viewing, the arrests of the dancers are appalling, or at least inappropriate. There are things done that probably shouldn't have been done (pulling a guy away from the officer arresting him, after that guy is submitting to the arrest), but none of these things come close to offsetting the momentum from the opening move of the police action. So, the video has the legs to move even with context.

Of course, it really helps their cause with that context, and it's magical that people who are 'anti-dancing' are the ones providing it. Viewers who are initially "pro-dancer" are then confronted with the law and have to think about it and will have to make a decision understanding the repercussions of that decision: That's exactly what a protest is trying to do, and it's rare that it actually does it.

Win - win.

It's not everyday that you can do the very thing you are protesting for in the mildest way possible and receive an extreme — yet relatively harmless — reaction.

To jump to the bigger point from there: Just because you have the authority to do something, doesn't mean you have to or should do it.

If the ruling on the Jefferson Memorial was made to prevent this, then fuck that ruling. But I'm figuring on a broader level it was made to provide the authority to prevent some far more problematic scenario. That's when it should be used, not for every joker that holds a dance party. By choosing to lose control of a situation like this, the police are losing support for their right to control situations... and in theory, they're making the Jefferson Memorial a bigger target for anyone who thinks they can get similar attention out of it (not saying they will, just that they think they will).

Presumably, this is a police force that deals with 'unlawful assembly' all the time: Is the Jefferson Memorial that different than everything else they've protected that they aren't able to resolve situations without making a scene?
posted by pokermonk at 7:15 AM on May 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I could really use some feel-good cop stories to balance out all the 'bad cop' stories.

Here's one MrFTBN, apropos of not being related to this at all.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/01/48hours/main7204273.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Gist, horrible murder of a teen-age girl in a small town. Huge clamor to solve the crime. Jailhouse snitches finger some small time teen-age delinquent, that is all she wrote. Well one new guy on force had doubts, and eventually became sheriff. First thing he did was re-open the case and got the guy out. How often do you see a cop do that? Should be required viewing for police.
posted by xetere at 7:18 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. Seems like we've wondered in a place we shouldn't be America. Take my hand, let's head back to the place I assumed we were; liberty and freedom and kindness and justice.
posted by Increase at 7:19 AM on May 29, 2011


Wow. Seems like we've wondered in a place we shouldn't be America

No, this is the same America it's always been, the only difference is those kids aren't black.
posted by fuq at 7:22 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Correction: Actually after further review of the historical record, 'being black' has historically not been required for an ass-kicking from American fascists
posted by fuq at 7:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


These dancetesters struck me as a bit irritating at first, but in reading the judgment they were going against a sentence stood out:
But the conduct is nonetheless prohibited because it stands out as a type of performance, creating its own center of attention and distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration that the Regulations are designed to preserve.
The phrase 'atmosphere of solemn commemoration' really stands out for me. It means Jefferson is dead. His ideas are in the past. The 'Free Speech Zones' of the last decade were nauseating enough. If all it takes is some government official deciding that location X is reserved for solemn commemeration to shut free speech down, we're sunk.

Remember, the founding fathers were less interested in creating hallowed institutions than in creating a system where the universal human tendency to disagree passionately could be exercised with less blood and destruction. They took as a given that people are argumentative — Don't worry, your Honor, this is what happens in America.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [22 favorites]


> Given the size of our country, unlimited protest rights would mean that public spaces like the Mall could be under 24-7 encampment.

When people say something like that, my jaw drops. Fact is that before the police state you could have protested here any time you liked and very few people did

"If we actually gave people their Constitutional rights, there might conceivably be issues, even though they have never happened yet, so we shouldn't take the risk."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:44 AM on May 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


Relevant links:

The event organizers appeared on Adam's show "Adam vs. The Man" on RT America to promote the event. Adam will no doubt do a full rehash on Tuesday.

They're planning another one for next weekend which is bound to get a much higher turnout due to the publicity yesterday's events are receiving. Will be interesting to see what happens with that.

If you ask me: they should fit the floor of the memorial with a trap door to a holding pit, so that they can just drop dancers in there. Wouldn't want any to get away! Imagine the trouble they'd cause around town with their smooth moves.
posted by mantecol at 7:45 AM on May 29, 2011


I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon.

I would have favorited that if you'd gone for the full six.
posted by fairmettle at 7:50 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a little kid, then later high school student, I used to visit D.C. all the time. It was an hour drive away. The very best thing about it was the protesters. They were fun, entertaining (my personal favorite was about some rediscovered bible passages that somehow related to the tax code), and it was a nice expression of how America is supposed to work. If you wanted to get away from them, you just went to a museum or out in the middle of the greens.

I haven't even wanted to visit in the last decade+; it's just too depressing and I might be arrested for being too weird.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:51 AM on May 29, 2011


They were illegally protesting in an area where tensions are high.

*laughs hard*

Isn't that what they say at Tienanmen Square?

Yeah, things are just okey-dokey. Resume watching your vid-screens, Citizens.
posted by RedEmma at 8:04 AM on May 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


So apparently the police did not go after the people videotaping this? If the police had arrested the people with the cameras and confiscated their footage, then that would be one thing. If they had then tried to silence the defendants then that would be another. We have a great problem in this country with police departments overstepping their bounds, breaking into homes and shooting innocent people, going after anyone videotaping anything, et cetera. These sorts of fluff protests do *nothing* to address those issues. Much like the "anarchists" who decided to go after the agricultural inspectors in a recent video, this was a protest without much danger to it. Flash mobs can be construed as being an engineered distraction from a real attack, and so may be a potentially dangerous situation. You want to impress people? Cut it out with the fluff protests. Our laws do not guarantee that anyone can do anything they want, anytime they want, anywhere they want. That being said, any legal recourse the defendants have should be pressed against the officers and the departments in question. But I am still left rather nonplussed by the footage from this bitchy, fluff protest.
posted by midnightscout at 8:04 AM on May 29, 2011


So apparently the police did not go after the people videotaping this?

Watch the television news segment (to which The Gooch linked above).

At 01:36, "... a news photographer also appears to have been roughed up, too."
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on May 29, 2011


Hate the Police.
posted by Sailormom at 8:25 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our laws do not guarantee that anyone can do anything they want, anytime they want, anywhere they want.

However, they do guarantee the right of people to peaceably assemble, which these dancers were doing.

Sure, you can dig around through the pile of trash laws, rules and ordinances the years have piled on top of the first amendment, but when you get to the bottom of it, there it is. Petitioning for a redress of grievances, no less.

The law that the dancers were protesting is wrong. The fact that they were arrested for protesting such a law (*especially* considering the manner in which they were protesting -- it doesn't get much more peaceful than that) is wrong. Period.
posted by scelerat at 8:33 AM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


If we are lucky, the law will get more tests as a result of these protests. Sometimes if you test something enough you find where it's broken and can fix it.
posted by tomierna at 8:33 AM on May 29, 2011


You don't suppose a lot more people will now go and dance there, do you?
posted by pracowity at 8:49 AM on May 29, 2011


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.

We are going to end our democracy because we don't want anyone to ever be inconvenienced. Our national politic has gone from tragedy to farce.
posted by notion at 8:50 AM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


RedEmma: Isn't that what they say at Tienanmen Square?

First, it's TIANANMEN Square.

Second, who's "they"? Do you mean the Chinese Communist Party or the Mainland Chinese public? If the former, they say very little, other than it was a political disturbance. If the latter, the response is much more nuanced depending on who you're talking with.

Third, I can see why this is upsetting, but could we have a discussion without resorting to hyperbole edging towards Godwin's law?
posted by FJT at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2011


If you want to rage even harder, these cops are probably back at the station now, patting each other on the back for their sophisticated intel-gathering capabilities, and enjoying a laugh over how those "stupid criminals" foolishly posted details of their dance-event on the internet.
posted by antonymous at 9:00 AM on May 29, 2011


China's Jasmine Protest Organizers Call For Regular Sunday Strolls
I read somewhere (here?) that the chinese authorities are being trolled by internet messages that ask people to protest by going about their day normally. That way the police assume that everyone is a protestor.
How about we warn the police of a new protest where the flash mob will go to the Jefferson Memorial and act like normal tourists. They'll be the ones milling about, taking a few pictures and reading the inscription. I mean, dancing was a protest because the organizers said it was.
posted by 445supermag at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


How about we warn the police of a new protest where the flash mob will go to the Jefferson Memorial and act like normal tourists.

Yeah, loitering isn't against the law! Waitaminute...
posted by FJT at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2011


I love how solipsistic people turn into Rules Lawyers when they see something like this, are usually the same ones whose rhetoric shifts to "My tax dollars pay your salary / aren't there REAL criminals you should be catching?!" when they get a speeding ticket.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:23 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Regardless of the merit of the court ruling, these people are totally looking to get arrested. Brown-shirt-guy is an idiot; when white-shirt-guy (I don't know who is who) is having his hands pulled behind his back by the cop, WHY would brown-shirt-guy try to get in the middle of that? I don't care how stupid the law is, you really, really can't fight the police when they're trying to put cuffs on you for whatever reason. I know some people don't like that, but that's how it is.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:31 AM on May 29, 2011


OUTRAGE FILTER- I'm outraged- blah blah blah.
posted by TheBones at 9:32 AM on May 29, 2011


I wonder what else you aren't allowed to do at the Jefferson Memorial.Well, in a similar vein, you're not allowed to sing the National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:36 AM on May 29, 2011


First, it's TIANANMEN Square.

Actually, it's 天安門廣場. But I know you were just trying to be helpful.
posted by scelerat at 9:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


Dance Like Nobody's Watching, Except the Park Police
posted by homunculus at 9:40 AM on May 29, 2011


Great thing about this is the Barbara Streisand effect. The memorial was "non-public"? I didn't know (what bullshit that is!) Oh, wait, pigs beat someone. NOW I KNOW! Good Job Asshole Cops...

So now I'm confused if I'm supposed to be Grar that these cops did this or happy that I now know that there's the initial injustice (non-pubic memorial) beyond this secondary (though in a sense very much more real, because it's not an abstract like "freedom to dance" but a very real like "freedom not to get the shit beat out of you")
posted by symbioid at 9:41 AM on May 29, 2011


For those who like this sort of thing, apparently this is the court decision which outlines how the Jefferson Memorial is a non-public space.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on May 29, 2011


Let's say an online discussion of methods and tactics that would actually put a stop to this shit would be illegal, probably under Federal law.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:56 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, it's 天安門廣場. But I know you were just trying to be helpful.

No, thank you for making an effort to be helpful. That's traditional writing, which is not really used in Mainland China anymore. It should actually be 天安门广场. A sign at the square uses simplified characters too.
posted by FJT at 10:00 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best protest would be if a very fatherly prefessor type led a "class" of people with a question and answer style session about the words of Thomas Jefferson and the history surrounding his involvement with the Revolution and future government. Every other sentence out of the teacher's mouth could be a Jefferson quote that indicts some current US government practice as contrary to a free state.

But I imagine you're not allowed to take classes to the Jefferson monument without a permit either.
posted by R343L at 10:17 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want to rage even harder, these cops are probably back at the station now, patting each other on the back for their sophisticated intel-gathering capabilities, and enjoying a laugh over how those "stupid criminals" foolishly posted details of their dance-event on the internet.

Let's not forget what happened to the cops in Milwaukee who sent that kid back to Dahmer, and made homophobic jokes about it. They got promoted and are if i'm not mistaken, one became chief.

Power corrupts, cops, the military, etc, should all be held to much higher standard, you fuck up, especially when you do it intentionally and such, your ass should be toast. Lucky to get a job flipping burgers for the rest of your life. (how it should be, not how it is)
posted by usagizero at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I imagine you're not allowed to take classes to the Jefferson monument without a permit either.

So are people even allowed to visit the memorial without a permit anymore? What's the justification for that? What right is one exercising in visiting the site, since by some convoluted series of asinine legal rationalizations, public parks are inexplicably not public spaces?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2011


Totally unrelated to my earlier comment, how about that protest on the National Mall tomorrow. I here anti-war protestors are going to stage an illegal protest, they're going to dress up as injured veterans to bring awareness to the cost of war. They should be easy for the cops to spot and arrest: they'll be wearing some article of clothing associated with military service and appear to be partially disabled from a combat injury.
posted by 445supermag at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


The assembly vs. expression issue is confusing the hell out of me. Oberwetter was not alone, but supposedly arrested for her own expression (dancing) not because she was part of an un-permitted demonstration.

Isn't the requirement for permits for parades/demos to protect the public from assembled mobs?

If I accept that the Jefferson Memorial is set aside as a non-public forum for contemplation of the rights a Framer thought up & we used to have, what about the rest of the "territory" the Park Police controls? Do individual acts of expression on the National Mall require permits? Can I dance on Water St. SW?
posted by morganw at 11:16 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Here's [a feel-good cop story to balance out all the 'bad cop' stories]...
The irony here is that the good cop bucked the system to correct a terrible miscarriage of justice perpetrated by his lazy colleagues, and only 12 years later, when he'd acquired the power to force it down their throats as sheriff.
"They just convicted him and said ‘Be done with it. We’ve got a killer,'" Pierce said.

"Everyone wanted to believe that this thing was done and over with. And the guy was in jail," said Jason Lawless, who believes there was a lot of pressure on Sheriff Ferrell to find his sister’s killer. "He wanted a conviction. He wanted it quick. He wanted it fast. And he got it."
posted by Coventry at 11:28 AM on May 29, 2011


They got promoted and are if i'm not mistaken, one became chief.

Well, two of the officers were fired (later cleared of any crimes and reinstated) and the third was suspended. None became chief, but one was elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association.

/Milwaukee resident

posted by desjardins at 11:33 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahh, yes, the classic, endless struggle between the right of free speech and the right to enjoy the Jefferson Memorial in peace. I can see how that's sort of an intractable problem, you know, trying to balance 1st Amendment rights with....hrmm...you know it seems to have slipped my mind, which amendment was the "Right to enjoy monuments in peace" amendment again?

notion has it: the "nuance" that things like this get lost in stems from people mistaking their desire not to be offended or inconvenienced with an actual right. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; not life, liberty, and absolute protection from anything that upsets (but does not actually harm) you. You do not have the right not to be offended. You do not have the right not to be inconvenienced.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:48 AM on May 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


Isn't the requirement for permits for parades/demos to protect the public from assembled mobs?

What does this even mean?

We are supposed to have the right to peaceably assemble and have freedom of association.

But in the very language of the First Amendment is the word "peaceably". If there is a violent mob going on, they are no longer peaceable and they have moved outside the right outlined in the amendment.

Now, the right to assemble has been eroded a lot over the years. Permitting, by its very nature, goes directly against the concept that a group of people are allowed to come together when and where they want.

The requirement for permits is strictly a control issue. The Rainbow Family goes through this every fucking year with the Forest Service and such. They ALWAYS choose to have their Gathering on public land in places where permitting should not be required. The Forest Service and other law enforcement ALWAYS tries to force them into a permit. Without any formal structure and without any leadership, there is no representative of the group who could possibly sign the permit. There's this big to-do about it every single year, and it's been taken to court several times with varying results.

But as soon as you cede the right of assembly and sublimate it into permit-issuance, you've given away a right and said that the government has the power to decide which groups are allowed to come together in public and which are not. And once the government assumes that power, then eventually it will start using that tool in its toolchest to prevent the population from doing things it doesn't want.

Now, I find it a bit reprehensible to learn that most of what people picture in their minds when they think of Washington DC is Assembly By Permit Only. It seems that the nation's capital should be a place where specifically people can go to enact public protests. It feels just as much of a weasel-out as "free speech zones" located blocks if not miles away from actual events.

(And don't get me started on how squicky it is that we've got these public monuments where there is some kind of enforced code of behavior. The Jefferson Memorial is not a church, but they seem to want people to behave like it is one. Ugh.)

Anyway, the situation is stupid and is just more evidence that we really don't live in the country we all think we live in.
posted by hippybear at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm utterly speechless at this. How did shit get this bad?
posted by tehloki at 12:06 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just when I'd gotten good and frustrated with the actions of the judiciary and law enforcement on this one, I checked the event link on facebook and had to laugh:

DANCE PARTY @ TJ'S!
posted by anotherbrick at 12:09 PM on May 29, 2011


"Its too bad these guys didn't show up with another hundred thousand or so people."

There will be another "Dance Party at TJ's" this Saturday, June 4, at noon.

Spread the word to everyone you can, especially to anyone you know living in the DC area.

Personally, I am seriously considering flying in from Vegas for it in a fit of "THE LINE IS DRAWN HERE!" pique over the fucking ridiculousness of suppressing the freedom to peacefully assemble at a fucking memorial to Thomas Jefferson of all fucking people. I mean, FUCK this shit is FUCKED. Fucking arrest me, fuckers, this will not fucking stand.

Fuck.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:12 PM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and since we were just discussing what MetaFilter is good for vs. what Reddit is good one, one of the things Reddit has recently shown itself to be good for is turning out people to protest in DC.

So if you're feeling outraged and wish there was something you could do right this minute about this, if you also have a Reddit account then now would be a good time to browse over there and take a minute to upvote all links related to this story. If at least one of those links finds its way to the front page then Redditors could potentially significantly boost the attendance at the June 4 follow-up protest.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:31 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


*vs. what Reddit is good for

... sigh, I need a nap.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:33 PM on May 29, 2011


I'm utterly speechless at this. How did shit get this bad?

---

If ... if ... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. - Solzhenitsyn
posted by Trurl at 12:42 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what else destroys the atmosphere of reverence around the National Mall and the memorials? All the lobbyists driving around in Bentleys and Ferraris, paid for by the corporate money that is destroying America's democracy.
posted by wuwei at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


But they drive around all solemn and dignified so it's ok.
posted by the_artificer at 1:24 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


What really shocked me when I visited DC a few years ago was the number of exotic/high end cars driving around the Mall. As I was waiting to cross a street to walk towards the Vietnam Memorial a massive Bentley sedan glided past me, followed a few moments later by a Ferrari F360. I had a shocking realization that what I was seeing was my money in car form. That is, the lobbyists were going to Congress to get bills passed that enriched their clients. That money came out of the federal budget, so it's my money. Sometimes it would be something obvious like a contract for fighter plane radars. Sometimes less obvious, like laws that lock in a telecom monopoly, which guarantee a revenue stream from Americans to the lobbyists clients, generally speaking more money for a few people that is going to be taken from the rest of us. The clients made tens or hundreds of millions based on the lobbyists' connections, so they could easily pay the lobbyist enough to afford a nice Bentley or Ferrari.

At that moment, I felt pretty sick. It ruined the rest of my trip to DC.
posted by wuwei at 1:48 PM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel every citizen has a right to dance and make an ass of themselves without police brutality.
posted by clavdivs at 2:08 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've decided this is a viral for a movie called: ASSCOPS

It's a baout a bunch overly self-important dimwitted blowhard piss poor ASSCOPS with no sense of diplomacy or socialization skills and really low IQ's making complete and utter asses and clowns of themselves.

Cos I can't and don't want to believe there are cops who are this unbelievably ignorant, disrespectful and full of ASS in the brain. I hope their ASSCOP bikes get flats frequently and they have no patch kits.
posted by Skygazer at 2:48 PM on May 29, 2011


I think I would be upset if I traveled across the country to see monuments like this and was unable to because a pro-life protest was going on.

I'm pro-choice, and I wouldn't. I mean, I would grimace at those I disagreed with and maybe mutter a curse, but not because they dared to protest in front of a statue I wanted to take pictures of. Because I believe in their right to speech, even if it blocks my sweet shot of a famous monument that will go up on my Flickr page then be ignored till the end of time.

The laughable assertions that without police cracking heads, all public spaces would be occupied 24/7 by crowds of dirty hippie anarchists (or whatever) betray a profound ignorance of logic and of the actual mechanics of protesting.

We live in a huge, HUGE country chockablock with public squares, historic statues, capitol buildings full of officials, military installations, and threatened wildlife preserves (to name some traditional protest sites). People with the time and passion to be protesters for any length of time are a tiny fraction of the population. At the most, you can get a large crowd to march for an afternoon (unless, as in Madison, there is a real crisis at the government level that threatens a large chunk of the population. But that only affected one freaking midsize town).

Granted, if enough of the populace becomes unemployed and homeless due to a feckless Congress more concerned with unauthorized dance moves then fixing our economy and creating jobs, large numbers of people might end up occupying public spaces as a last resort.
posted by emjaybee at 4:03 PM on May 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


If you give up a couple years of your life to go live in some foreign sandbox to "protect America's freedoms" you should be able to dance wherever you damn well please. And so should everyone else because you "protected their freedoms".
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:07 AM on May 29 [36 favorites]


Whether someone did or did not join the military, did or did not "protect America's freedoms," etc. is irrelevant. The most useless, non-contributing person in America is covered by the First Amendment.

I'm a little frustrated today because I keep reading references to ways to give veterans special privileges. One floating around the web entails maintaining a drinking age of 21 for everyone except service members. Well, why? The argument seems to be that if someone is old enough to fight or die for his country, he deserves to be able to drink. Well, I'm inclined to say that if you 're old enough to say, take care of your family, work at a socially useful job, vote, etc., you're contributing as much as someone who volunteers for the military. Yes, yes, I know, it's Memorial Day weekend but I'm finding the no-cost patriotism level a little wearing today.
posted by etaoin at 4:22 PM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


The behavior of the cops is pretty decent. They didn't overly hassle the guys who willingly put their arms behind their backs and got cuffed. The guys who resisted, and it was clear to me they were resisting, didn't get roughed up at all - they got taken down, and the cuffs were put on forcibly, but this is what cops do. They didn't beat, tase, or shoot anyone, and they generally remained pretty calm.

But that's not the point.

Defining a clearly public space - a space maintained and policed by publicly funded agencies, and an iconic national monument no less - as a non-public forum, and outlawing a non violent, non threatening, orderly form of expression are the acts of a police state. It is literally only a matter of time before any and all expression, in any form that is not explicitly condoned by the state is forbidden, unless we resist the slow, persistent creep of tyranny upon us.
posted by Xoebe at 4:32 PM on May 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


Defining a clearly public space - a space maintained and policed by publicly funded agencies, and an iconic national monument no less - as a non-public forum, and outlawing a non violent, non threatening, orderly form of expression are the acts of a police state.

QFMFT.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on May 29, 2011


Sir. SIR! I challenge you to a whistle off. NOW!
posted by nola at 5:03 PM on May 29, 2011


I'd swear there was an ask.me from someone in austria, wondering why americans came to her country to dance at some fountain, whereupon she was introduced to The Sound of Music.
posted by nomisxid at 5:34 PM on May 29, 2011


>...the June 4 follow-up protest.
I predict emergengy repairs in the rotunda on June 4, if this follow-up protest develops any legs.
posted by Coventry at 5:39 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


etaoin writes "I'm a little frustrated today because I keep reading references to ways to give veterans special privileges. One floating around the web entails maintaining a drinking age of 21 for everyone except service members. Well, why? "

This argument works the other way. How can we possibly allow 18 year olds to volunteer to get their ass shot off if we say they aren't responsible enough to drink. It's ridiculous to say a person is responsible enough at 18 to sign up to be blown up and not responsible enough to enjoy a beer with dinner.
posted by Mitheral at 5:40 PM on May 29, 2011


nomisxid: "I'd swear there was an ask.me from someone in austria, wondering why americans came to her country to dance at some fountain, whereupon she was introduced to The Sound of Music"

That was miss lynnster's comment from a couple years back.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:45 PM on May 29, 2011


Maybe the cops should try being batshit insane, like this guy, who isn't a cop, and thank God for that.
posted by bwg at 6:15 PM on May 29, 2011


Whether someone did or did not join the military, did or did not "protect America's freedoms," etc. is irrelevant. The most useless, non-contributing person in America is covered by the First Amendment.

Oh, I agree completely hence "And so should everyone else because you 'protected their freedoms.' "

Also: "protected their freedoms" was in quotes for a reason.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:17 PM on May 29, 2011


Well, this is why I never became a cop. Having to enforce bullshit laws and rules because it is your job/duty. Fuck that noise.
posted by josher71 at 7:40 PM on May 29, 2011


If Americans had the courage of the "arabs" in this Arab Spring, then the number of dancers at the Jefferson Memorial would increase exponentially each day until they won.
posted by spock at 8:37 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hate the law if you want, I can see both sides (but it seems to me that limits on protest in public areas are reasonable)

But those cops did their jobs perfectly. And the protesters are douchebags. They set out to provoke and get abused, and get it on Youtube asap. They failed because they were arrested peacefully before they could escalate/provoke further.

I often disagree with douchebags but will defend, with my life, their right to be douchebags. Until they BREAK THE LAW.
posted by raider at 8:41 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


it seems to me that limits on protest in public areas are reasonable

What limits do you think are reasonable on protests in public places?

Where do you think unlimited protests should be allowed to take place?
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on May 29, 2011


Hi Hippybear,

I'm saying it seems reasonable that some spaces are out of bounds.

Are you saying there should be no restrictions whatsoever? Do you think protest in Arlington National Cemetery should be allowed?
posted by raider at 9:05 PM on May 29, 2011


They set out to provoke and get abused, and get it on Youtube asap.

They actually streamed it live!
posted by mantecol at 9:06 PM on May 29, 2011


I often disagree with douchebags but will defend, with my life, their right to be douchebags. Until they BREAK THE LAW.

Do I need to point out that some laws are wrong, and that courts don't get to rule that they are wrong (e.g. violate the Constitution) until someone breaks that law, is prosecuted under that law, and the case is appealed? True, these folk didn't seem to have a strong, thought-out plan leading up to these acts. But I think they're on the right path.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:07 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Point taken, Benito. But Rosa Parks these guys ain't.
posted by raider at 9:10 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you saying there should be no restrictions whatsoever? Do you think protest in Arlington National Cemetery should be allowed?

Well, while I'm sure it's a minority opinion, I don't really hold cemeteries as being all that special in general. And while I wouldn't want to see protestors there on a daily basis, if there were a reason for them to be there as opposed to someplace else, I wouldn't have any problem with that.

As far as no restrictions, I'm not really sure where in "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." there is room for restrictions. Seems like any restriction would be an abridgment of the right of the people peaceably to assemble. But maybe that's just me.
posted by hippybear at 9:12 PM on May 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


raider writes "Point taken, Benito. But Rosa Parks these guys ain't."

I don't understand your point here. Is it that the issue isn't weighty enough? That the protesters weren't organized enough?
posted by Mitheral at 9:15 PM on May 29, 2011


Point taken, Benito. But Rosa Parks these guys ain't.

Are they doing any harm, though? These people are not the country's designated protestors. There are millions of people in the country, each of whom can protest as they see fit.
posted by mantecol at 9:17 PM on May 29, 2011


on a lighter note, the baldish guy with glasses who was doing a robot-ish dance had a lovely je ne sais quoi, prior to his being tackled
posted by angrycat at 9:39 PM on May 29, 2011


My point is they are douchebags. Give me a Venn diagram of these people/their supporters and those who condemn whacking OBL because it (debatably) violated the the letter of international law. Pot meet kettle.

But I digress. This isn't Tiananmen Square, this isn't Kent State, gimme a break. This is a bunch of douchebags. Note the old one yelling "you didn't even give us a warning! If you did we would've stopped!" BULLSHIT, there were several warnings clear as day. What's more important to these guys, social justice or going viral?

Once again, I fully endorse the right to protest, whatever your motivation or IQ. But you have 99.999% of the USA to practice it. Choose the other .001% and deliberately provoke the authorities protecting a national monument, well, sorry about the zip tie handcuffs.

I'm not even American ferchrissake...
posted by raider at 9:43 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point is they are douchebags.

Liking to call people names isn't a point, however.

Actually, the point of the protest had to do where it was staged, so that percentage of the USA you were talking about isn't germane to this conversation.
posted by josher71 at 10:03 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right Josher, calling them douchebags isn't a point. It's a fact.

It seems to me there are two issues here which are getting mixed together so let me be clear:

1. Police/State brutality - show me how they were anything but exemplary
2. Boundaries of protest - debatable, I've expressed my opinion


I only commented at all because some people seemed to be conflating the two.
posted by raider at 10:19 PM on May 29, 2011


1. Police/State brutality - show me how they were anything but exemplary

Arresting people for dancing in public is exemplary police behavior?
posted by yertledaturtle at 10:22 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


But you have 99.999% of the USA to practice it.

Actually, this isn't true. A good portion of the US is private land, and as such requires permission from the land owner for you to be on it and for your activities to be approved while you are there. When it comes to actual percentages, what is truly US Government Owned (and therefore Public) Land in the US comes to something like 30% of the total area. Of the remaining land, there are national parks, state parks, national recreation areas, etc... None of these are considered "public land" in ways which allow citizens to peaceably assemble without permit. Many supposedly public places, such a municipal streets and sidewalks, also have usage restrictions in force, although the actual constitutionality of many of those restrictions has never been truly tested in any meaningful way.

Now, of what is left, much of it is in places which prove useless for effective protest. Sure, you could go to the middle of the desert in New Mexico and have a bunch of people there with signs, but are you really going to get your message across? The lizards and cactus don't really care. The same holds true for national wilderness areas in any state, which are truly the only places which are "public land" in that there aren't any strictures on using the land as long as you're not homesteading or destroying the property.

I do think it's important to differentiate between the right to assemble and the right to protest. The right to assemble says that you can get a group of people together without having authorities question you about why you are gathered or forcing you to break it up. The right to protest is sort of an interesting thing because it rises from the right to assembly coupled with the right to free speech and the right to free association. I think it's also tied in with the whole "petition for a redress of grievances" thing, although that is most often interpreted as taking the government to court.

Anyway... For a protest to be a successful exercise of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, it has to take place where it will be witnessed and where it will be intrusive and where it will be heard. The whole "free speech zones" thing which has risen over the past while is a short circuit around the "intrusive" part of the theory of protest. Look at the recent Wisconsin protests and how the Governor was actually using unmarked vehicles with the back seat windows covered with newspaper to get from place to place. That was partially for his own privacy, but also so he could avoid having to witness the intrusive protests which were occupying the public space of the WI Capital.

Now, where in the US Capital can people protest in a way which would be witnessed, intrusive, and heard? If you protest at the fence in front of the White House, you will be arrested, as Dan Choi and other gay military members learned repeatedly as they protested Don't Ask Don't Tell. There is no place near the Capital building you can protest, as groups which have protested the torture of US prisoners have learned. You can't protest on the steps of the Supreme Court, as the head of the NAACP has learned. You can't protest on the sidewalks of the National Mall, as Cindy Sheehan has learned.

So, basically, the ONLY city in the US which is under Federal control, where all three branches of our government are housed, which should be the most logical place for free speech and peaceable assembly and protest... has created for itself a zone where nobody can protest anything at all. Unless it's a permitted gathering. Which by its very nature means it's an abridgment of the right to assemble.

So yeah, you're not American, and you probably don't really fully grok the magnitude of what is going on here. But this is a pretty major thing, in my mind. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.
posted by hippybear at 10:32 PM on May 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


It seems to me there are two issues here

Three issues. The third issue is the law they are protesting.
posted by josher71 at 10:35 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you think protest in Arlington National Cemetery should be allowed?

Yes.

What better way to pay respect to those that died for our freedoms than to exercise them?
posted by Windigo at 10:58 PM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


what are you protesting, that they are dead?
are you fucking joking?
posted by clavdivs at 11:14 PM on May 29, 2011


I don't understand what you are saying Clavdivs. You can only protest things that are literal?
posted by josher71 at 11:19 PM on May 29, 2011


You know what makes me sick, besides the slow creep to fascism and totalitarianism, is the heel licking types that try to justify this shit. Bunch a fucking Grima Wormtongues if you ask me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:56 PM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is like Footloose post 9/11.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:13 AM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


So... the violation is Unlawful Assembly? From what I can tell, this involves a Disturbance of the Peace, and the definition I'm finding of disturbance of the peace says "The crime is usually committed by an offensive or tumultuous act, such as the making of loud or unusual noises, or quarreling in public."

Can silently moving in a rhythmic manner be a disturbance of the peace? Can just anything at all be a disturbance of the peace? Like if five of us went there and we all... had ponytails... or wore red shirts – would that be a disturbance of the peace? What about breathing in unison, or blinking in morse code? If, in your own mind, something is a protest, does that make whatever that thing is illegal? I mean how do you prove that scratching your chin isn't a disturbance of the peace?
posted by taz at 5:38 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fred Phelps demonstrating in Arlington would not be a just result for me.

But he can't. He's limited by time/place/manner restrictions. That's the game of the first amendment.

So w/o knowing the time/place/manner restrictions at issue here (sorry if I missed it in the thread) it's real hard to parse things, aside from wincing at the bunch of police body checks or whatever you call it.
posted by angrycat at 7:32 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand what you are saying Clavdivs. You can only protest things that are literal?
posted by josher71

I don't undetsand what you mean.
posted by clavdivs at 8:43 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right Josher, calling them douchebags isn't a point. It's a fact.

Whatever argument you may have made, you lost it here.
posted by SPrintF at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2011


The behavior of the cops is pretty decent.

Best behavior for them in this situation would have been to take off the badge and walk away for the sheer absurdity of having to arrest someone for dancing underneath a statue dedicated to a guy whose many contributions included promoting the idea that people ought to be able to express themselves freely without fear of government-sanctioned reprisals.
posted by scelerat at 9:39 AM on May 30, 2011


Overall level of sympathy on metafilter for any issue over time: ▇▆▅▂▁
posted by oxford blue at 9:53 AM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's more like: If somebody posts something on metafilter, there may be an initial reaction of outrage that is then mitigated by circumstances/other considerations. Also, if somebody posts something on metafilter, there may be an initial reaction of 'meh' and then a growing interest/outrage as more facts/considerations come in.

Cops arresting people dancing at a memorial, slamming some of them into the ground, will guarantee a RAWR reaction initially. I'm still unclear as to how much of that is warranted, as little as I like the sight of cops hurting people for dancing, of all things.
posted by angrycat at 11:03 AM on May 30, 2011


So.. we don't care about the first amendment anymore? Anyone who attempts to exercise their rights is a douchebag who deserves to be beaten down and the rest of us are "free enough"?

To everyone who says "meh" at this and other situations where authority curtails individual freedoms. You may not want to do anything today, you may have never wanted to do anything in your entire life, someday you may want to do something though.. and you may find your right to do it severely restricted.

The bill of rights is an ideal that has never been lived up to and paying lipservice to freedom, while never supporting the exercise of it, is causing the atrophy of what little progress has been made.
posted by TheKM at 11:23 AM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay, wait. Could they get a permit to dance there? That would be the sanctioned process, right? Would that application be auto-denied?

We have never had unfettered first amendment rights. I mean, we can wish that the Supreme Court did things differently, or I guess we could rage at Supreme Court precedents.

Again, I am anti-cop-hurting people. But I am not seeing how the Bill of Rights has been trampled here. I don't have enough facts. That doesn't mean I am all, "Yay, cop violence, fun if it doesn't happen to me."
posted by angrycat at 12:03 PM on May 30, 2011


I guess that an idea that there can be no regulation of the first amendment strikes me a little bit like the idea there can be no regulation of the second amendment. Here we all, "Bad federal gov't and your exercise of authority." There the gun folks are all, "Bad fed gov't and your exercise of authority."

Now, in the case of guns, to me there is a much stronger argument in favor of regulation of the second amendment, for fairly obvious reasons. And we know that sometimes speech does need to be regulated -- see the stupid Phelps/anti-abortion/KKK protestors. We don't need that shit in our face, and the whole "shouting fire in a crowded theater" is an articulation of the idea that sometimes public interests outweigh the right to express oneself.

Now again: Could they dance a few feet away, in front of the memorial? Could they apply for a permit? Or are they protesting the idea that ANY regulation of expression in the memorial is wrong? Need more facts. Doesn't mean that the what happened wasn't wrong. But I don't know enough yet -- aside from the fact I wish the cops didn't hurt people. I'm sort of more interested in the detention process -- when are they allowed to slam people like that -- than I am in the idea that the B of R has been shredded and is floating in pieces, lazily, along a summer wind.
posted by angrycat at 12:15 PM on May 30, 2011


Given the size of our country, unlimited protest rights would mean that public spaces like the Mall could be under 24-7 encampment.

No worries. Our government knows how to handle those.
posted by ewagoner at 12:35 PM on May 30, 2011


Well, a major difference between the First Amendment and the Second is that the second comes with qualifying phrases, while the first does not. And while the exact meaning of those qualifying phrases continue to be the subject of much debate, the fact that there are none in the First does seem to indicate that the intent there is much more broad a freedom than the Second.

As far as your question about dancing a few feet away from the Memorial, I doubt they could. The entirety of the National Mall is controlled by the Park Service, and as such they can decide at their whim what form of expression is allowed there or not, and can be capricious about it as they see fit.

Remember -- in order to stop people from exercising their First Amendment rights of expression and assembly, they don't actually have to have any real reason to break you up. Law enforcement has arrest powers, and even if they don't charge you with anything, they will have removed you from the place where you were assembled and expressing yourself, thus effectively achieving their goals of making you go away and not do that thing anymore. Private citizens have little or no power against this, except for the power of numbers, or to submit themselves to the approval process of the permit system, which is a de facto sublimation of rights to the supposed authority of a body to regulate those rights.
posted by hippybear at 12:38 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Given the size of our country, unlimited protest rights would mean that public spaces like the Mall could be under 24-7 encampment.

If the government is involved in enough bullshit that enough people saw fit to put it under 24/7 encampment because they felt it was the only way their cries of protest were being heard....

Well, look at Wisconsin for a quality example of how this plays out with peaceable assembly.
posted by hippybear at 12:40 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's funny how authorities at all levels are terrified the American people are going to come out into the streets and bring the whole thing down, when we show almost no inclination to do so.

It's because they know from the inside just how much that's what we should be doing.
posted by jamjam at 12:51 PM on May 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess that an idea that there can be no regulation of the first amendment strikes me a little bit like the idea there can be no regulation of the second amendment. Here we all, "Bad federal gov't and your exercise of authority." There the gun folks are all, "Bad fed gov't and your exercise of authority."

Is there really no difference between a weapon that kills ten thousand US citizens a year and civil acts of disobedience which have delivered most of the rights we hold dear?

And we know that sometimes speech does need to be regulated -- see the stupid Phelps/anti-abortion/KKK protestors. We don't need that shit in our face, and the whole "shouting fire in a crowded theater" is an articulation of the idea that sometimes public interests outweigh the right to express oneself.

The Supreme Court has upheld the Phelps/KKK/anti-abortion protests because public interest does not outweigh freedom of expression.

Now again: Could they dance a few feet away, in front of the memorial? Could they apply for a permit? Or are they protesting the idea that ANY regulation of expression in the memorial is wrong? Need more facts. Doesn't mean that the what happened wasn't wrong. But I don't know enough yet -- aside from the fact I wish the cops didn't hurt people. I'm sort of more interested in the detention process -- when are they allowed to slam people like that -- than I am in the idea that the B of R has been shredded and is floating in pieces, lazily, along a summer wind.

Government is supposed to protect our rights, not chip them away under the frail cover of what bureaucrats think is acceptable behavior. Once they have enough power, there is no distinguishing them from the aristocracy we briefly escaped. Right now you accept that they have the power to redefine what a public space is, who is allowed to occupy it for protest, and what their punishment should be after they are roughed up and hauled away.

How long until public protests are redefined as acts of terrorism? How long until we return to the days when the judgement of one man is enough to have you executed by the state? As proved by the extra-judicial assassination orders outstanding for Anwar al-Awlaki, those days are here. Right now they are reserved for what are called "extreme cases", but according to whom?

"Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism." --Thomas Jefferson
posted by notion at 1:10 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the decision:

Indeed, the Park Service may not issue permits for demonstrations and special events at the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. See id. §7.96(g)(3)(ii)(A)-(D). The Park Service's stated goal in prohibiting demonstrations at these four monuments is "protecting legitimate security and park value interests, including the maintenance of an atmosphere of calm, tranquility, and reverence in the vicinity of [these] memorials." 41 Fed. Reg. 12879, 12880 (Mar. 29, 1976)

WTF? I mean, I guess I can see arguments for why this might be defensible for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But the other three? When we decide that at memorials to our founding fathers and great presidents, "an atmosphere of calm, tranquility, and reverence" is more important than freedom of expression and protest, there is something deeply wrong with that. Leaving aside the whole First Amendment thing-- in any healthy democracy, you should not be limiting freedom of speech in order to ensure the proper atmosphere of "reverence" for any political figure. I find it rather disturbing, really.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


One thing we've learned from the Arab Spring is that protesters have to win the sympathy of elements in the security services. Kokesh and his friends haven't gotten that message.

If you read the court decision that incited the protests, you'll see that the park service does not issue permits for protests at the Jefferson Memorial. So no, the dancers could not have gotten a permit.

Look, I don't think the protesters were models of probity here. The cops were pretty measured: even the pickup-and-slam was done in such a way as not to drop the guy on his head. Kokesh and his should have taken a non-antagonistic stance with the police and just gone ahead and gone quietly. Or perhaps, said something like this :

"I see you're here to arrest me. You and I both know this is completely ridiculous; we're in a memorial for Thomas Jefferson, underneath a sign that asks us to have "eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." And you're about to arrest me for dancing.

Maybe you've got a wife and kids, and you're doing what you've gotta do to put food on the table, because as a cop you follow the orders of your chain of command. Buddy, I'm doing what I've gotta do as an American citizen, which is protest the fact that your chain of command and our court system have decided that Footloose isn't just a movie, but something we have to act out in real life. So go ahead and let's get on with it-- put those cuffs on me now."
posted by wuwei at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doh, EmilyClimbs beat me to it.
posted by wuwei at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2011


Wow, thanks for those legal insights. Yeah, that seems pretty screwed up to me. And wait, what about MLK's march on Washington? Would that have fallen afoul of that law?
posted by angrycat at 1:58 PM on May 30, 2011


And I wasn't trying to equate the limiting language of the second (although that limiting language oft gets ignored) with any such language in the first. Only making the point that the judiciary has allowed for regulation in both cases.
posted by angrycat at 2:00 PM on May 30, 2011


The couple was doing some fairly tame swaying.
What's the difference between performance and well.. communication of any kind?

There is no distinction as far as I can tell. Communicating via sign language or... interpretted dance? Conversation or.. dialog? Are you explaining something to a friend or orating?

The laws that encroach on a person's sovereignty over the volume of space occupied by their bodies are supposed to only be about preventing harm to other person's bodies or their property.

Bopping one's head is a threat to the "solemn atmosphere of commemoration"?

I'm not okay with a law mandating that within publicly owned/funded space it's illegal to move one's body as one will. This is not something the law has any business making decisions on and will only need to more restrictions.
posted by TheKM at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


what about MLK's march on Washington? Would that have fallen afoul of that law?

Well, I can't find quickly find any record of there having been a permit issues for that particular event. I'm going to guess that it was a permitted event, as there were six sponsoring organizations for it, which included the NAACP and the National Urban League. Full outline of that event here.

It is important to note that MLK was arrested in 1963 in Birmingham for demonstrating without a permit, and the Supreme Court upheld that conviction in 1967 and he spent four days in jail as a result. Those events are included in the timeline I found here.
posted by hippybear at 4:21 PM on May 30, 2011


> But those cops did their jobs perfectly.

WHAT?! What world do you live in!? What sort of person are you?

They used serious physical violence on people who were disturbing no one, and in fact beyond that, were thoughtfully engaging in political speech. And the cops beat them up.

Let me repeat that: they beat up two people for dancing quietly in public - for a "crime" that would almost certainly result in a fine and a suspended sentence if it even got to court.

To me, these cops exemplify the very worst of police officers, and of the human race - someone for whom violence is the "go-to" strategy when settling a dispute.

I just searched and searched, and failed to find, a very moving video I saw, where a cop has stopped some guy for speeding and the man is screaming abuse at him at the top of his lungs. The policeman never loses his cool and explains politely to the guy why he got the ticket and gives it to him. When he gets the ticket, the guy's voice goes up even higher pitched (it's a screech) and he tears up the ticket and throws it out the window.

And the cop says firmly, "Sir, if you do not pick that up, I will have to give you another ticket for littering." And the guy gets out of his car and picks it up.

Now, that cop is a real man.

There was also an interview with him where he explained that this speeder is a taxpayer and therefore the cop works for him, that the cop has no idea what's going on in his life and his job is only to give the ticket, politely.

I've always wanted to send this guy a fan letter. These abusive DC cops don't deserve to clean this guy's loaded guns...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:46 PM on May 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


Mr. Yonderboy, I don't think the situations are analagous.

The cops in the video had a mandate to secure the memorial. That's "their only job", just as your hero's only job was to write a ticket in that situation. However the speeder posed no potential threat to public safety or property.

I'm sure those cops are constantly on edge watching for suspicious people, potential bomb threats etc. How easily could a handful of peace-disturbing knobs provide a distraction for something more nefarious?

They warned the demonstrators of the consequences clearly, politely and repeatedly. When their words weren't heeded they apprehended them as necessary.

I fail to see what option they had, any other course of action equals not doing their job. They're not DAs or public defenders or judges or legislators, they were fulfilling their mandate.

In my homeland (not so different from yours) I can't have a fucking family picnic for more than x people in a public park without a permit. Want some wine at your picnic? Enjoy the extra paperwork.

So if I want to have a picnic I either put up with the bureaucracy or take my chances. Cops show up and I say "hey MAN, we're not bothering anybody", too fucking bad. I get a ticket. We refuse to disperse? Escalation. Resist arrest? Further escalation.

This is not fascism.

So the law is unjust? I can disobey and take my chances. Or I can protest within the law. It's not that tough; Hippybear might be interested to learn that Pennsylvania Ave is littered with protesters right outside the White House. Saw it myself last summer and no one was bothering them. Should they be allowed to hop the fence?

I had a neighbour knock on my door today with a grassroots petition about a local issue. He didn't chain himself to the building in question so no Youtube for him, just results. What a concept, exercising your rights in a democracy without being a dickhead. I thanked him for his effort.
posted by raider at 7:41 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"They used serious physical violence on people who were disturbing no one, and in fact beyond that, were thoughtfully engaging in political speech. And the cops beat them up"




Do you have a Raymond Babbitt "Book of Serious Injuries"? I saw one - strong - guy get wrapped up and brought down because he resisted peaceful alternatives.
posted by raider at 7:58 PM on May 30, 2011


You shouldn't need a permit to peaceably assemble and talk (or even shout) about what's wrong with the system. That's at the root of all this.

The brutality angle is a red herring. Irrelevant. Different issue. The issue is that you should be able to assemble and talk or express yourself almost any way you want in a public space. Public parks are public spaces. Dumbass laws notwithstanding.

Look, I don't think the protesters were models of probity here.

This is also irrelevant.
posted by scelerat at 8:15 PM on May 30, 2011


The cops in the video had a mandate to secure the memorial. That's "their only job", just as your hero's only job was to write a ticket in that situation. However the speeder posed no potential threat to public safety or property. I'm sure those cops are constantly on edge watching for suspicious people, potential bomb threats etc. How easily could a handful of peace-disturbing knobs provide a distraction for something more nefarious?

What the heck? Someone who is speeding is posing a greater risk to everyone else on the road by violating the traffic laws. That's why we have speed limits; your right to blaze down I-280 at 110mph is not as important as my right to not die from a horrible read-end collision. Couldn't a speeder be easily providing a distraction for all kinds of nefarious highway conduct too? In contrast, this bunch of dancing protesters weren't posing the slightest threat to public safety. At worse, they could have started dancing more wildly and bumped into someone, but the dancing looked pretty tame in the video.

If the memorial is truly such a dangerous place that any behavior other than standing perfectly straight and silent is such a threat to its security, it ought to be closed down. At a minimum, they'd better ban cameras, backpacks, school field trips (those rowdy kids can pose no end of distractions), and a host of other potentially distracting things too.

I fail to see what option they had, any other course of action equals not doing their job. They're not DAs or public defenders or judges or legislators, they were fulfilling their mandate.

As others have mentioned numerous times above, the police have enormous amounts of discretion in doing their job. They aren't simple law-enforcement automatons, but rather are human beings who are supposed to look at the big picture and react proportionally. That's why 0xFCAF doesn't get arrested when he brings a loaf of bread and a bread knife to his neighbor's BBQ, but a known parolee banging on someone's door at 2am while holding a large sharp knife will be stopped and questioned. It's also why the police don't ticket me when I block my own driveway for a couple minutes so I can unload my groceries, but they do have a chat with the guy who parked his car on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown while he goes to order a sandwich. Discretion and good judgement is precisely what we hire police officers to employ every day in their job.

These officers certainly could have still been doing their job if they ignored the protesters, keeping an eye on their behavior to ensure that they didn't become too loud, take up an inordinate amount of space, harass other visitors to the memorial, or pose any sorts of criminal threats. They also would have been doing their job if they went up to the protestors, let them know that they need to avoid disturbing others, and reminded them of some basic ground rules for the shared space. Doing their job does not involve arresting everyone in sight that could potentially be guilty of some violation. I thought we all learned that lesson from those classic kids cartoons where some character becomes the school hall monitor, goes crazy with power, puts the whole school in detention, and learns that no one likes her anymore.
posted by zachlipton at 8:23 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The other thing this event, sadly, brings to mind for me is my experience a couple years ago at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Much like the Jefferson Memorial, the Mausoleum was built to commemorate a founding father of their nation, and it is open to the public for contemplation and for visitors to pay their respects. Unlike the Jefferson Memorial, Ho Chi Minh's body lies in repose in the middle of the Mausoleum. I'm told they send the body off to Moscow every year for touch-ups on the embalming work. It's all really quite creepy.

Anyway, at the Mausoleum, the long line of visitors is flanked by armed guards. There's a dress code, and if you're wearing shorts, they won't let you in. Whisper to your companion, even just on the staircase while you're in line, and you'll be ordered to be silent by a stern soldier with a bayonet. Slouch and rest your hands in your pockets, and a guard will insist you stand up straight and keep your hands at your sides. I'm not just repeating what the Wikipedia page says (though it does seem to say much of this), I saw it, as do countless visitors. I sincerely doubt anyone has ever tried to dance, but I don't think the reaction would be at all pretty.

Now that's Vietnam. We lost over 58,000 US soldiers fighting that war. Certainly, there's plenty of room for debate as to why we fought the Vietnam War and what we hoped to achieve, but at least to some extent, presumably some Americans thought we were fighting because we thought that a free democratic society is better than an authoritarian one. Inherent in that freedom is that there aren't armed guards in our memorials to enforce an "atmosphere of solemn commemoration." If we want, we're free to publicly hate Jefferson and we should be free to, in ways that don't unreasonably inconvenience others, make those views known at his memorial. Or, if we prefer, we're fee to revere Jefferson, and we should be free to make those views known at his memorial too.

So on this Memorial Day, I ask what the fuck we've been doing going off to war to spread liberty and freedom and democracy and all that good stuff when the armed guards at the Jefferson Memorial of all places are there to enforce an "atmosphere of solemn commemoration," just like the soldiers at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum? Shouldn't we be able to do better?
posted by zachlipton at 8:46 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's like the start of Half Life 2 where the combine cop makes you pick up the can he drops and put it back in the bin otherwise he whacks you with his nightstick. If you listen closely in the original video you can here Ellen McLain's voice intoning: "Attention all ground protection teams, judgment waiver now in effect. Capital prosecution is discretionary."
posted by oxford blue at 9:02 PM on May 30, 2011


To me, these cops exemplify the very worst of police officers, and of the human race
I understand though disagree, why?

These abusive DC cops don't deserve to clean this guy's loaded guns...

Hyperbole: 'allegations' of police brutality were cops don't deserve to shine things does not match with the worst nature human race has to offer. I'm typing this like phil hartmanns ghost, thank you, play again. HYPERBOLE FOLKS!

and don't compare this shit with MLK, thats a bad comparison if history is any judge.
For a sample from my vast arsenal of historical refutations, When Lincoln was murdered some 250 or more persons were killed because of a general lack of percieved respect NOT shown to Lincolns death. (dam black crepe paper shortage) Two U.S. presidents had mobs at thier doors.

revelance, little. but to banter history around is fun and intropective.
posted by clavdivs at 9:59 PM on May 30, 2011


> However the speeder posed no potential threat to public safety or property.

Right, because no one was ever killed by a speeding driver, and the death toll from dancers is so huge...

Having hung out with police officers a bit, I'll also tell you that you're really off-base thinking that traffic stops are safe for cops. Very wrong - they're very dangerous, second only to "domestic disputes" as a way for a cop to suddenly find him- or herself facing the business end of a firearm.

Two different reasons, mind you! In the case of domestic disputes, what kills cops is usually some angry drunk guy with a firearm - a guy who might be a perfectly decent human in other circumstances.

Traffic stops turn deadly when you stop someone for a minor traffic infraction who turns out to be wanted for something really serious and needs to get away at any cost. My friends found them particularly scary because there's usually no way to tell there's anything wrong until the person suddenly surprises you by pulling out a gun...

Regardless, it's telling that you see speeding as a victimless crime, and a crime which should get favorable treatment as compared with illegal dancing...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:55 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honest question:

John Smith is protesting/flashmobing/streaking/etc/etc and doing it peacefully. Officer Stephens shows up and says clearly and nicely "You're under arrest for doing this, put your hands behind your back." John Smith freezes with his hands anywhere but behind his back and doesn't resist but doesn't comply with the latter part of the order. Is Officer Stephens out of line when he bodily takes the person to the ground?

Bonus question: Does your answer change if John Smith is Jane Smith? Or if John Smith is a professional bodybuilder and 2x the size of Officer Stephens?

Double-secret probation bonus question: Does John Smith have any reason to be angry/vengeful/bitter at Officer Stephens for doing his job or should he simply accept the consequences of his actions, as others have done in the past while continuing to bring it to the judicial/public attention.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2011


In my homeland (not so different from yours) I can't have a fucking family picnic for more than x people in a public park without a permit.

I'd say that's one hell of a difference between our countries, actually.
posted by hippybear at 3:06 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy smokes what is this, the Pedant Olympics?

I didn't say speeding was a victimless crime.

My point was to illustrate that the cops guarding a high-profile monument had a larger societal concern than one dealing with a car THAT IS ALREADY PULLED OVER, per the original reference if you bothered to read it.

Keep moving those goalposts, guys..
posted by raider at 8:02 PM on May 31, 2011


Mr Hippybear, I have been part of a family gathering in a regional park in California and can assure you that bureaucracy was most definitely involved.

Are you saying that in your state you could just go ahead and, say, throw a wedding reception in a public area with no permission from anyone?

Didn't think so.
posted by raider at 8:05 PM on May 31, 2011


I didn't say speeding was a victimless crime.

Apparently it is pedantry night here, but I'll just chip in how I read your comment. When you said, "however the speeder posed no potential threat to public safety or property," I interpreted your words to mean that the pulled-over speeder didn't pose any kind of threat, while the dancing hippies at the memorial were Dangerous.

Our point was that, from the officers' perspective, the speeder is pretty scary, because an officer is about to approach an unknown individual on the side of the road in a way that is statistically one of the most likely situations that gets them shot. In contrast, a bunch of dancing protesters at the Jefferson Memorial are, statistically speaking, highly unlikely to pose a threat to these officers, the Memorial, or anyone else.

Are you saying that in your state you could just go ahead and, say, throw a wedding reception in a public area with no permission from anyone?

Well, I imagine that you could probably do so off in a national forest somewhere far away from anyone (we've got plenty of places like that here in California), but that's not really the point. And if my wedding reception consisted of 30 people, a few picnic blankets and lawn chairs, a portable bbq, and a boom box quietly playing some tunes, then yeah I'd expect to be able to do that in my local park without any permission from anyone, as long as I didn't take anyone else's space or unreasonably inconvenience others. The point is that, if I did try to throw a big wedding reception (tent, caterers, band/dj, etc...) in the middle of my city park without a permit, I would not expect the police to tackle and cuff the bride's grandmother. I also wouldn't expect them to come in immediately demanding that everyone leave at once or we can all spend the weekend in jail. Rather, I would expect them to use their discretion and do their best to handle the situation in a way that doesn't escalate into conflict.
posted by zachlipton at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you saying that in your state you could just go ahead and, say, throw a wedding reception in a public area with no permission from anyone?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

If I want to RESERVE a place, I would have to fill out paperwork to reserve the place.

If I wanted to have a wedding in the most in-demand park for weddings in the area, I would have to fill out paperwork and pay a fee which goes toward the groundskeeping.

If I wanted to hold a wedding reception in a non-reserved section of any city park in the town I live in or the city which is closest to me, there would be no requirement for pre-registering the group or getting a permit for the gathering.

Don't believe me? Here is the parks page for the town I live in -- you can look for information there about whether permits are required for using any of the parks.

Here is also the parks page for Spokane, WA, the city closest to me. You will note that if you want to reserve a place you will have to make a reservation, and if you want to get married in Manito Park they will charge you money, but if you want to use the city parks there is no permit required.

Stop being such a smartass with your tone. I know what I'm talking about when it comes to the right to assembly in the US.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy smokes what is this, the Pedant Olympics?

Didn't you know? So far the judges from Russia, China, and North Korea have given you a 5.9 for technical merit and a 5.8 for artistic impression.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:47 PM on May 31, 2011


Anyway, I'm done with this. Anyone who wants to talk to me further on this topic can find me through alternate means.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on May 31, 2011


make so much as a capitalist gesticulation in front of Big Kim, out come the dudes.
posted by clavdivs at 12:01 AM on June 1, 2011


"I could really use some feel-good cop stories to balance out all the 'bad cop' stories."

Here's one. I've seen plenty of others myself but don't have clickylinks for them, since they didn't make the papers.

Maybe I'm just in an area that has some decent police officers. *shrug*
posted by drstein at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2011


Guys thanks for your enthusiastic viewpoints. While you didn't change my mind you forced me to think harder than I normally like to do. I hope I at least gave your brains a little exercise too..

Cheers, dance on.
posted by raider at 8:44 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It might not seem like the spot for a dance party, but on Saturday, dozens of people shimmied, shook and even funky-walked inside the Jefferson Memorial in protest of a recent court ruling banning such behavior."
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:22 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


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