December 6, 2011

WENDY KAMINER OFFERS SOME FIRST AMENDMENT THOUGHTS ON THE OCCUPY PROTESTS, but misses the double standard involving groups like the Richmond Tea Party. She writes:

But toleration of 24/7 occupations proved a risky strategy: allow people to engage in an activity and they’re likely to infer a right to do so — especially if that presumed right is violently withdrawn. Belated eviction efforts involving instances of police brutality, militarism, and media black-outs have only exacerbated the sense of occupational entitlement and imbued occupiers with some moral as well as legal high ground.

In addition, by tolerating and, in some cases, sympathizing with protesters one day and seeking to evict them the next, absent an orderly regulatory process, city officials have exposed themselves to arguable claims that they’re arbitrarily violating rights previously afforded.

But by “tolerating” illegal behavior by Occupy protesters — a Democratic constituency, if a somewhat dissident one — even while expecting Tea Party protesters to have all their paperwork in order (and, in the case of the City of Richmond, auditing them when they dare to complain), cities have also sent the message that they’re arbitrarily discriminating among groups based on message and affiliation. I would have liked it if Kaminer had included some discussion of this point.

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