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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jay Carney (and Obama) Have It All Wrong about Police and OWS

So did you catch this statement the other from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney?
Speaking November 15 aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “The president’s position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues.”
Carney was seeking to debunk questions about whether the Federal government is in some way coordinating the police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street protests across the country this past week.  (We already know that the Mayors of New York, Oakland, and 16 other American cities coordinated their unconstitutional attacks on the protesters.)

But Carney's statement also says something quite important - crucial - that he likely did not intend.  And that is:  allowing municipalities to make their own decisions regarding the protesters is not an expression of innocence, but an admission of guilt, when what the cities are doing is pepper-spraying the protesters, arresting and beating protesters as well as reporters, and (in the case of NYC) deliberately shutting off the eviction of Zuccotti Park from the press.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the right to peaceably assemble.   The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble," and the Fourteenth Amendment extends that restriction to all levels of government, including municipalities.

So in leaving decisions about how to respond to OWS protests to municipalities, the Obama administration is plainly shirking its responsibility to make sure no local government violates the First Amendment rights of citizens - by allowing them to be attacked by police, and by preventing the media from fully reporting these violations to the people.

This is not only shameful but an admission of an inability to govern by the Obama administration.   I hope Obama and his advisers wake up to this disgrace and outrage before he's voted out of office.

Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

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