Police and politicians ignore the First Amendment when we need it the most.
I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C., area for the better part of the last 10 years. So I’ve seen my share of demonstrations, although more often than not I just try to avoid the traffic nightmares they cause. Among the various classes of protests—pro-life, anti-war, environmental, and now tea parties—the most destructive are the anti-globalization marches. So when cops clashed with anti-globalization demonstrators at the Pittsburgh G-20 summit in September, it was easy to assume that most of the altercations represented justified police responses to overzealous protesters.
But a number of disturbing photographs, videos, and witness accounts told a different story. Along with similar evidence from other recent high-stakes political events, they reveal an increasing, disquieting willingness to smother even peaceful dissent.
On the Friday afternoon before the G-20 meeting kicked into high gear, a student at the University of Pittsburgh snapped a photo showing a University of Pittsburgh police officer directing traffic at a roadblock. What’s troubling is what he’s wearing: camouflage military fatigues. It’s difficult to discern a practical reason why a man working for an urban police department would need to wear camouflage, especially while patrolling an economic summit. He’s a civilian dressed like a soldier. The symbolism is clear, and it affects the attitudes of both the cops wearing the clothes and the people they’re policing.
[Read more at Reason.com]