Monday, October 1, 2007

Liberty hung out to dry

Freedom to express oneself, to think independently, was the lure that led the masses to our shores. Safety from abusive and intrusive government is the dream that continues to draw people to our borders. Our military men and women are in Iraq and elsewhere fighting for these same principles on behalf of those who cannot battle tyranny alone. Yet here in Colorado Springs, where so many are at great personal risk because of American ideology, we do not recognize the basic Constitutional freedoms of our own citizens.

It was a private parade, you say. The police were just following the orders of John O'Donnell, the parade organizer. Those people had no right to be there. What a load of garbage. The city was a partner in the St. Patrick's Day parade. They blocked off public streets and used public resources too numerous to mention. For the city and the CSPD to hide behind another organization's insurance policy is not only cowardly, it is un-Constitutional. The ACLU won a recent case in Hawaii, wherein a "private" parade sought to exclude a particular group from marching. The conclusion: government entities can not shield themselves, nor take directives, from private citizens using public resources. The rest of the country seems to understand this.

In any case, the excessive force used by several of the policemen called to the scene, is absolutely indefensible. Miscommunication, fear for the public safety, parade crashing. None excuse what ensued. Not for a minute. Today it was peace activists; tomorrow it will be someone else. Unchecked abuse of power is a terrifying thing to witness. The lack of accountability by the CSPD illustrates that this thug behavior is tolerated, perhaps encouraged. If they are willing to behave that way in the presence of hundreds of spectators, can you imagine the treatment of those less visible? Are they taught that they are to leave their humanity at the door when they don their uniforms and guns?

While I appreciate the attempts made by John Weiss to reconcile the community, his call to the activists to drop the threat of a civil suit is wrong. Where the people have no voice the court system is the next step. A hung jury in so simple a case shows that we are a town that is not as freedom-loving as our local daily newspaper professes. Perhaps, as in Hawaii, a higher court will possess greater wisdom. It is the next peaceful step in our cherished democratic process. The checks and balances built into the Constitution provide a measure of hope.

If there is no relief to be found by those who have sworn to defend freedom, then we will have to take to the streets. Systemic change is always resisted by those in power. If the populace had not banded together in the past to demand its rights, women would not vote, blacks and whites would be segregated, workers would toil in dangerous conditions, children would be chattel.

We should not live in fear of our local government, they should fear and respect us. They are public servants. We are a country of the people, by the people, for the people. We will not rest until our government, including those on Capitol Hill, abides by the Bill of Rights. Don't mistake quiet acquiescence for peace. It is a reaction to oppression.

What the peace marchers need is not a call to lay down, but the rising up of their fellow citizens. They call for peace. Let the rest of us support them with a call for justice. As Thoreau said in Civil Disobedience, "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." It is time for every concerned citizen to help stop the rampant abuse of power in our city and beyond. Without liberty and justice, there will never be peace. Here, there or anywhere.

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Camiseta Personalizada said...
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