I was on Here & Now, produced by the wonderful folks at Boston’s NPR station WBUR today.
I discussed freedom of speech and the BART disruption that I’ve written about here (several times).
To listen, follow this link.
I have been active in the issue to end police violence in the Bay Area starting in 1988. I was beaten and arrested on October 15, 1988 after having share food at a nonviolent protest against the war in El Salvador. A woman, Ellen happened to film several key actions that afternoon. First she caught a man throwing a police barricade at a line of riot police. Second she filmed protesters chanting shame as that same man walked through the crowd pointing out “leaders” to that same group of riot police who then arrested the “leaders.” and third Ellen filmed some of those same riot police grab me as I was packing up my left overs and smash me into the sidewalk choking me as they made their arrest. A couple of years later my lawyers found a copy of a police memo talking about that day dated September 27, 1988. The officer claimed his obtaining my private phone number was a real asset to his investigation. When you view Ellen’s video you can see that the man that threw the police barricade was dressed very much as I was that day. I was charged with throwing the police barricade at the riot police. The charges were dropped but this provided a window into how the police, FBI, military intelligence and private security “police” protest in the United States.
Sure the beat cop may have trouble knowing the limits of the Constitution but their supervisors do have a very good idea of those limits but they also know that they will be protected from harm if they ignore those limits. In the “real” United States it will take massive public protest that threatens the institutions, mostly corporations to force the police to respect the U.S. Constitution. We aren’t there yet.
Your critique of the police is one that is most often expressed by those experts that view events from the sidelines. In the “real” United States suppression of dissent is thoroughly considered from detailed observation of the daily lives of those dissenting, live roll playing of surveillance and arrests. Fusion Centers and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, Rand Corporation studies, and coordination with corporate security firms and prosecuting attorneys are all part of a massive effort to silence protest and control society. I can share over 30 years of surviving warrant-less wire taps, infiltration, tampering with motor vehicle computer records, beatings, days in stress position boxes, media smear campaigns, frame ups, and disruption of phone service, mail, email, bank accounts and many other harsh techniques carefully considered, designed and implemented all because I dared to make America a more secure and democratic society. After all, my Great Great Grandfathers Grandfather risked his life to win independence from the King of England, participated in the Continental Congress and signed the United States Constitution so I take defending that constitution personally even though it has cost me dearly.
It is important that we see the law enforcement community, their intentional disregard for the U.S Constitution on behalf of corporate power for what it is. The protest at the Civic Center BART station was just the most recent effort by the public to end decades of police violence in the Bay Area starting with public outrage reported by Samuel Clemens in the San Francisco Call to the Preparedness Day Bombing by a detective at Market Street to the police shooting of union men striking for far pay and working conditions to the La Raza Case, the Democratic Convention at the Moscone Center, the Castro Riots, the brutal beatings for years of Food Not Bombs sharing meals legally at United Nations Plaza and the many, many murders of people of color by BART Police, the San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and University of California Police. This history has been repeated in city after city in the United States yet that is just the story of the local police who work in coordination with state police, the F.B.I.and other federal law enforcement agencies and even though totally unconstitutional our military has no boundaries as to what they are willing to do to silence protest inside the United States. I hope you will consider being open to adding this perspective to your critique of the police and their intentional disregard for the U.S. Constitution.
Thanks for your consideration.
co-founder of the Food Not Bombs Movement.
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