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Mass Arrests Likely at Political Conventions: 6 Historical Precedents

Clinton's law designates political conventions National Special Security Events, a category of state security that virtually dooms the exercise of First Amendment Rights.

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In the intervening decade, popular protest has begun to build. However, the forces of authority have gotten smarter, putting in place increasingly repressive legal provisions and better-prepared ground troops to restrict mass popular protest.

9/11 provided the rationale for an expanded state military and security apparatus.  Today, the fears of 9/11 are waning and the political-military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan (like in Vietnam) are become self-evident. To maintain the massive military, intelligence and policing apparatus of state power, a new enemy has to be identified. In the globalization war for resources, the “enemy” is China and Iran; in the domestic struggle over equality, it is political activists.

Popular unrest and mass arrest marked the 2004 and 2008 Republican conventions.  More troubling, arrests at OWS gathering in New York (e.g., 700 arrested in Brooklyn Bridge march) and Chicago (e.g., 175 arrested in Congress Plaza) suggest just how prepared the state is getting. The hot summer of 2012 is just getting started.

David Rosen writes the Media Current blog for Filmmaker and regularly contributes to CounterPunch and the Brooklyn Rail. He can be reached at

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