Wouldn't it be easier to just repeal the 1st and 14th Amendments?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    I looked, but I could not find my previous thread about DC police arresting protesters who were "peaceably assembled." In that thread, I predicted that even if gross misconduct were discovered, no action would be taken. Here's an article from this morning's Washington Post. It's a bit long, but please be patient. It is outrageous the way the department managed to bargain their way out of this, it is outrageous that the taxpayers have to foot the bill, the whole affair(s) is outrageous. The bold font has been added by me, to highlight some "special" moments.

    Police Agree to Protester Reforms
    Lawsuit Alleging Abuse During 2001 Inauguration Is Settled
    By Carol D. Leonnig
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, November 22, 2006; Page B02

    The D.C. police department agreed yesterday to pay $685,000 and take steps to protect protesters from police abuse and ensure their rights to settle a lawsuit over the treatment of demonstrators at President Bush's inauguration in 2001.

    The lawsuit uncovered evidence that the department had suspended rules limiting the use of force during the protests, had pressed undercover officers to infiltrate protest groups and had sought to provoke protesters and uninvolved bystanders by attacking them with batons and pepper spray.

    Under the settlement, the department denies any guilt but agrees to change its police handbook to better protect protesters, adding a requirement that officers report the use of force during a mass demonstration and prohibit arrests without evidence of a crime. Officers assigned to civil disturbance units will be reminded of the changes in a new, mandatory 40-hour training course and annual refresher session.
    The Partnership for Civil Justice, a civil liberties advocacy group, and a group of local residents brought the suit five years ago to try to force the police department under Chief Charles H. Ramsey to change what it considered an illegal pattern of treating protesters like suspected criminals. One of the suit's lead attorneys, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, said yesterday that the group thinks that it achieved much of that goal through painstaking litigation and depositions that revealed the department's behavior and led to the D.C. Council passing legislation last year to reform police handling of protests.

    A spokesperson for the D.C. attorney general's office declined to comment yesterday. Ramsey also declined to comment, saying that other lawsuits are pending.

    The settlement, which comes as Ramsey is preparing to leave his post, is the latest in a series of payments the city has made stemming from police conduct at demonstrations. In January 2005, the District government agreed to pay $425,000 to seven people caught up in a mass arrest at Pershing Park in September 2002. More than 400 people were rounded up at the downtown park during demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Several investigations found that Assistant Chief Peter J. Newsham, after conferring with Ramsey, had ordered arrests without warning or evidence of a crime -- including of people who had nothing to do with the protests.

    In that Pershing Park settlement, Ramsey was also required to send an apology letter to each of the plaintiffs.

    In January 2004, the city agreed to pay $7,000 to $10,000 to each of three Corcoran College of Art students who sued. The students had said that they were photographing the Pershing Park protests and were encouraged by police to enter the park and then arrested in the roundup.

    D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, (D-Ward 3), who successfully pressed for the 2005 legislation to address abuses of protesters' rights, said yesterday that the department was guilty of repeatedly abusing protesters' rights in demonstrations. "I regret that taxpayers are forced to pay another $685,000 for the wrongdoing by the Metropolitan Police Department," she said. "At the same time, I am glad the District has settled and agreed to the injunctive terms. I'm hopeful that the comprehensive training envisioned in the settlement . . . can prevent wrongful police action in the future."

    More than 80 percent of the money will go to legal fees incurred over five years, according to Partnership for Civil Justice. Most of the remainder will go to two people sprayed by pepper spray.

    Mike Shinn, a security consulting company owner who joined in the suit settled yesterday, said he was glad that the department would be forced to follow the laws of the country. Shinn, a Bush supporter who went to watch the inaugural celebration, said he felt he was in another country when police pushed him, other spectators and protesters against a wall and an officer hit him on the head from behind with a baton.

    "I tried to explain what I was doing and ask him what he wanted me to do, and he hit me again," Shinn recalled. "He said, 'Do you want some more of this?' I was just shocked, just utterly shocked. I thought: What in the world are they teaching them?"

    Shinn said he hopes the incoming chief, Cathy L. Lanier, and the departing Ramsey learn a lesson.

    "You can't arrest people for just having opinions, as unpopular as they may be," he said. "You don't just arrest everybody on the streets because you think they might have an opinion. It flies in the face of everything that is America."
    Researcher Meg Smith contributed to this article.

    Comments, anyone?
     
  2. rob_just_rob

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    Well, action was taken. However, as noted, there is no admission of guilt, and I'm not sure if behaviours will actually change as a result of this. After all, police groups don't like protests - or really, they don't like anything that forces them to do their job. Thus their stance on curfews, gun laws, wiretapping, etc.
     
  3. DC_DEEP

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    You are absolutely right, rob, action was taken - snatch several thousands of dollars from the taxpayers, and just hand it over to some attorneys; then toss a couple of coins at innocent bystanders who were clubbed and pepper-sprayed. Some action. I still don't understand why the former chief, his deputy, and a dozen or so officers were not arrested and thrown in jail. They did, after all, assault citizens, and not in the line of duty. It has been clear since the original incident (one of three, I think) that none of those protesters (or even the bystanders) were doing anything other than peacefully assembling in a public park during daylight hours.

    In one of the other incidents, although the above WP article does not mention it, several of the persons arrested were jailed for failing to show ID while walking on a publc sidewalk.
     
  4. rob_just_rob

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    Well, the lawsuit was settled. If the plaintiffs wanted more than what they got, they should have pressed their case. I can't speak to why they settled for what they did.

    As for the larger point I think you are making (that this was a civil case and not a criminal one) - police groups don't like protests and governments don't either. Governments like order. So it isn't really surprising (to me, anyway) that no official action was taken. If the government slaps the police down, it runs the risk of the police being less willing to run interference for the government in future.
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    Those are important points, rob, but the main point I'm making is that two amendments to our US Constitution, supposedly our "law of the land", were completely disregarded, and under the direction of the chief of police, the police force deliberately broke several laws in addition to disregarding the 1st and 14th amendments:

    Amendment I:
    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.

    Amendment XIV:
    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    The frustrating part for me is that while the department acknowledges that they did not follow procedures, under their "agreement", they are allowed to claim no wrongdoing.

    You mention that the plaintiffs agreed to the settlement; they may have had no choice. This suit has been dragged out over 5 years. The District of Columbia drew its legal financing and resources (oh, and damages) from taxpayer dollars; the plaintiffs had to retain their attorneys out of pocket. The officers assaulted and battered citizens with what could be considered deadly weapons; the protesters committed no crimes, but the officers committed assault and battery, arguably with deadly weapons, but the bargaining attorneys wrangled them out of a criminal position. At my current income level, I doubt that (regardless of how much I wanted to prosecute them) I would be able to retain a $350-per-hour attorney for 5 or more years.
     
  6. Shelby

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    After the Rodney King fiasco I pretty much gave up on the idea of justice being applied equally to cops as everyone else.

    That being said, in college I knew a group that lived to protest. Their whole schtick was civil disobedience and hitting the bong. They went out hoping to get arrested so everyone could see how oppressed they were. If I were a cop I'm guessing these folk would try my patience.
     
  7. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    law enforcement and the judiciary are in bed with each other. there is no justice.
     
  8. ecchi_rebirth

    ecchi_rebirth New Member

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    So how close is our country to a total outbreak of anarchy?

    I'm serious.
     
  9. DC_DEEP

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    Interesting question, ecchi. I'm worried it's going the opposite direction of anarchy. For me, I guess the question would be "how far will it go toward totalitarianism before that causes it to collapse into anarchy?"
     
  10. Lex

    Lex
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    I don't think the general populace is educated enough to understand how illegal shit like this is.

    It's the worst combination of apathy and ignorance I have ever seen. People won't get angry if they don't knowany better. Sigh.
     
  11. DC_DEEP

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    Lex, amigo, contrary to the opinion of SEVERAL on this site, I don't post stuff like this just to whine or "point fingers at the conservatives." Your comments, and those of NIC160IQ are EXACTLY the reason I do.

    Yes, it is patently, blatantly, illegal for a police officer to indiscriminately club or pepper spray a citizen who doesn't even bear the appearance of having committed a crime. It is, in fact, illegal to use "crowd control" on a crowd that is neither out of control nor in a jurisdiction of control. Just because Mr. President finds it distasteful to have picket signs in view during his inauguration, there is still no legal basis for "dispersing the crowd", nor for using force if peaceful citizens refuse to leave public property.

    I have searched, but I have found no legal basis for any agency to require any person to carry photo identification for access to public parks or sidewalks. The tactics used by Metro DC Police were deceitful and illegal. You just simply cannot trust an officer of the law to enforce the law if he refuses to abide by the law. There are no legal provisions for officers to break one law to enforce another... ask ANY criminal defense lawyer, if you don't believe me. Officers who break the law have caused innumerable mistrials and acquittals, even in many clear-cut guilty cases. There are good reasons why we have 1st amendment and 14th amendment protections. Those cannot be set aside arbitrarily.
     
  12. rob_just_rob

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    Well, yes. I thought that was a given?

    I think I'm too cynical for these threads.
     
  13. SpeedoGuy

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    In college I also knew a group that just lived to protest. Their whole schtick was civil disobedience and not hitting the books. They assembled weekly, hoping to get cuffed so everyone could see how righteous their cause was: Protesting the existence of family planning clinics.
     
  14. dolf250

    dolf250 New Member

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    I was just going to say that so long as the taxpayers are forced to support the police and the police can write tickets to collect $ for the city there is no need to reform. A monetary settlement means nothing to them. Just raise the fine for running a red, convince the city to kick in a few million more for “policing” next year and there is no harm done. Actually, it adds to the GDP of the U.S. So really, continuing the action looks GOOD on the financial bottom line of the U.S economy.


    I actually see the population supporting MORE laws and MORE police to enforce them. Our city just passed a law against loitering, putting your feet up on benches and spitting. Not the end of the world, but they seem to be targeting the homeless and using the police to do so. The citizens support them and support the police (you should hear the population of the city crying for more cops) because somehow making certain that nobody sleeps on a bench will make us much safer. I am worried that people have lost the will to fight for their freedom and are content to let the government dictate how they should lead their lives and just forget putting the effort into resisting. It is easier to just go along and be happy that we have a “cradle to grave” government.
     
  15. madame_zora

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    Dolf, that's been a beef of mine for a while now. We are actually paying the police to harass us, and as long as it continues as such, it will only get stricter. Higher fines have been in place here since the war (which usurped most of the government money set aside to support police forces), so cops are basically required to make their own salaries by handing out nuissance tickets. Wonderful. Who gives a fuck about fighting real crime? No one- it doesn't pay.

    DC, as to the original question- yes, they're useless to us anyway.
     
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