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Juan Cole, Informed Comment: NYPD Attack on OWS and the End of the First Amendment

NYPD Attack on OWS and the End of the First Amendment
by Juan Cole, November 15, 2011

Not only did the police, at the orders of billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, abruptly move on the protesters, they are alleged to have deliberately kept the press away, which is clearly unconstitutional if true.

The US constitution prohibits Congress from restricting the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and to petition for redress of grievances. For a history of the relevant US Supreme Court cases, see this link.

The government is also forbidden to interfere with the workings of the free press, so that the NYPD’s attempt to keep reporters away from the scene of their unprovoked attack on the demonstrators compounds the unconstitutionality of it all.

One of the ways that the First Amendment has been constrained is that fewer and fewer public spaces are still considered “public” (Zucotti Park is privately owned even though it is a park in a city).

In contrast, our emails, bank transfers, and our automobiles parked in our driveways have all been declared “public.”

So the government has invaded private space, declaring it public for purposes of monitoring the public (a violation of the Fourth Amendment). And it has pushed the public out of formerly designated public space by allowing its privatization, so as to prevent the public from demonstrating and peaceably assembling and seeking redress of grievances.

Over time, the US government has gradually found ways to render the Bill of Rights increasingly toothless, and to move us toward authoritarian governance and constant domestic surveillance.


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