Occupying Civil Disobedience

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With the Occupy protests continuing, and with hundreds of arrests at the various protests across the country, some people that oppose the protests have resorted to attacking the character of the protesters instead of the message. Some of the accusations are:

  • They didn’t get a permit, the “TEA Party” did.
  • They’re getting arrested, that never happened at “TEA Party” protests.
  • They don’t respect public or private property, “TEA Party” protests rented porta-potties, they use the restrooms of local businesses.

Other accusations are more outlandish, claiming the occupy groups are anti-semetic, anti-American (because of the supposed absence of American flags), and the derogatory term “fleabagger” has come about because of a perception that the protesters are dirty.

The first three accusations are inter-related (I will not dignify the more outlandish claims with a response). The Constitution of these United States of America supposedly protects the right to peaceably assemble. The Constitution does NOT say “you have the right to peaceably assemble, as long as you receive permission from your local government.” The Occupy protesters that are being arrested have mostly been charged with “disorderly conduct” and “protesting without a permit” though a few have been charged with assaulting police – the latter being a charge I do not condone.

The accusation that the protesters don’t respect property rights is equally invalid. The protesters are protesting on public property and (in most locations) without a permit, which is their right; however, if the occupy protesters were to rent port-a-potties they would “need” a permit for the set-up. Protesters attempted to get porta-potties in least one city, and were denied. I’ve heard firsthand accounts that the protesters are being respectful of private property; as most businesses only allow customers to use the restrooms, the protesters are making purchases before using the restrooms.

I wonder if the people leveling accusations against the occupy protesters would put the same accusations against protesters from the Civil Rights Movement or the anti-Vietnam War protesters.

Peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience has been proven to bring about change. If you don’t believe me, look at the work of Gandhi & Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe that most of the people demonizing the occupiers are doing so because they do not wish to debate the issues. I don’t agree with everything the occupy groups want, just as I didn’t agree with a good bit of the “TEA” groups, however, I support free speech enough to support everyone’s right to protest and speak, even when I don’t agree.