Just this week, unarmed people seeking peace and justice have sparked these overzealous responses from the “justice” system in the United States:
A Protest is NOT a Riot About 2000 people marched on McDonalds’ headquarters in suburban Chicago on May 21 to demand higher wages for workers. The peaceful protesters were meet by scores of police in riot gear. Since when has it become de rigueur for cops to dress in riot gear at peaceful protests? When police are decked out in protective face shields, bullet-proof vests, carrying weapons and massed in formation as if to protect against marauding bands of thugs, it send two messages: first, it feeds the narrative that protesters are dangerous, second, it intimidates protesters and creates a chill on protected speech. The protest was absolutely peaceful. Over 100 people engaged in non-violent civil disobedience and were arrested without incident.
OOPs On May 19 a jury in DeWitt county in upstate New York delivered a guilty verdict against a pacifist who was photographing an anti-drone protest. She was charged with violating an Order of Protection (OOP) stipulating that she had to stay away from an Air Force Colonel whom she had never met. The case is absurd on so many levels, so we’ll try to unpack it a bit. Mary Anne Grady-Flores is one of dozens of activists who have participated in civil disobedience (sitting in the driveway) outside Hancock Air Base over the past few years. Colonel Earl A. Evans asked a judge for an Order of Protection (yes, like the ones they give to abused spouses) against about 50 the demonstrators — and the judge complied (more here).
The intention of the OOPs is clearly to keep protesters from demonstrating outside the base and diminish the impact of the protests. We think they are unconstitutional, but that hasn’t been decided yet by the courts. Grady-Flores did attend a protest after she had been given an OOP, but she didn’t participate. Instead, she stood in the road taking pictures. But that was enough to get her arrested, and for the jury to find her guilty. She faces up to a year in jail.
Illegal Empathy Under the guise of public health, many cities across the country have passed ordinances to prohibit feeding homeless people in public spaces. Our friends at Food Not Bombs – a national movement of people who feed hungry and homeless people and advocate for spending on social services not military – have been arrested and threatened with arrest repeatedly for serving their vegan meals. Earlier this month, Daytona Beach cited a couple for providing weekly meals in one of the city’s parks, with fines totaling over $2,000. The city’s Police Chief told media
“We as a city have spent millions of dollars to turn that park into a place for families, kids and dog lovers. We have an ordinance that says when people want to perform acts of kindness or charity that they must coordinate with our local social service agencies.”
On May 21, police dismissed the fines, but warned Debbie and Chio Jimenez not to continue their weekly feedings. If they do it again, they face jail.