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Jim Hightower: Revisiting the Arrest of Protesters at the RNC in '04 [VIDEO]

It's not the demonstrators who are out of control, it's the authorities. And they're not merely cracking down on a few people - they're trampling the Constitutional rights of all of us.
 
 
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If you just can't bring yourself to believe that our government authorities would even think of suppressing the legitimate protests of peaceful demonstrators - look at the record of court cases recently coming out of New York.

You might recall media reports from the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, when 1,100 people were arrested in one day during anti-war demonstrations. Most media pundits joined the authorities in praising the police for stopping these "dangerous troublemakers." But the city now faces 605 lawsuits from people contending they were merely exercising their right to free speech and assembly - making no trouble at all.

And now, based on witnesses and numerous videos taken of the demonstrations and arrests, protesters are winning their cases. It turns out that police were making mass arrests of innocent people - then making up arrest reports charging people with crimes they did not commit.

Take the example of two guys and a young woman who were videoed trying to string a banner onto the New York public library. "You can't hang signs [there]," an officer told them, and they immediately took it down. "You can hold it, but you can't hang it," the officer said. So, they did. Two seconds later, as the two men held the banner on the stairs of the library, other police moved in and arrested them.

When the police filed their arrest complaint, they charged the three young people with "obstructing the entire intersection so no cars or pedestrians could pass through." The woman was also charged with refusal to obey a police order and leading a parade through the intersection without a permit - even though the video clearly showed that she had never left the library steps.

It's not the demonstrators who are out of control, it's the authorities. And they're not merely cracking down on a few people - they're trampling the Constitutional rights of all of us.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of "Thieves In High Places: They've Stolen Our Country And It's Time to Take It Back." He publishes the monthly "Hightower Lowdown," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.

 
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