How fascism starts

How fascism starts

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, already under fire for his tough stance against anti-GOP protest groups, yesterday suggested that First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly are “privileges” that could be lost if abused.

Uh, no. Freedom of speech and assembly are rights, not privileges, and not something that a reactionary mayor can take away. They are guaranteed by the Constitution – a document Bloomberg appears to have contempt for.

NYPD to shadow 56 protesters believed most dangerous

The big concern: the anarchist groups which disrupted the W.T.O conference in Seattle in 1999, and who have threatened to do the same here. Sources say the NYPD has identified 56 primary anarchists who will be followed 24 hours a day. One supervisor and six cops will be assigned to each person.

Someone blew up the World Trade Center and these bozos are worried about 56 “anarchists”, who “disrupted” the WTO.

ANSWER filed a lawsuit against the blocking of demonstrations in Central Park which will be heard tomorrow.

The lawsuit filed to overturn Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York’s illegal denial of free speech rights in Central Park for opponents of Bush’s domestic and foreign policies during the Republican National Convention has been scheduled for an emergency hearing in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The hearing will be held at the Southern District of New York Courthouse this Friday, August 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Courtroom of Judge William H. Pauley, III.

And UfPJ finally got off their ass and did the same (from their listserv)

Rallying in Central Park is a right, not a privilege! United for Peace and Justice filed a lawsuit today in New York State Supreme Court over New York City’s denial of the use of Central Park for a rally on August 29, after our legal, permitted march past Madison Square Garden. We are seeking a court order to allow the rally to proceed.

Since NYC turned down UfJP’s permit for a Central Park rally weeks ago, one wonder why they took so long to file this suit.

Squelching protest/The great American hush-up, Minneapolis Star Tribune

But assuring that protests don’t turn violent doesn’t grant law-enforcers unlimited authority to dictate the terms of protest — and plainly doesn’t entitle them to bully would-be protesters into skipping a protest event altogether. Yet this sort of tactic has become commonplace of late — most recently at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Protesters there indeed did encounter a razor-wire fence — but found that police had erected it to pen them in, not to safeguard their rights.

As has often occurred during public appearances of President Bush during his term, protesters found themselves confined beyond the hearing of participants in the event they came to comment upon.

What’s wrong with being watched? Nothing, unless you believe the Constitution’s free-expression guarantee means what it says. The assurance conveys no mere suggestion to government, but an absolute obligation: It must bow to citizens’ rights to say what they wish, to whom they wish, where they wish. Anything that dampens, muffles or muzzles such protest flouts the most fundamental of American promises.