About 25 members of the Occupy Philadelphia protest staged a sit in at the Comcast Building this afternoon. Police have arrested seven men and two women. Some of the protesters reportedly got into the lobby of the tower at 17th Street and JFK Boulevard. About 20 others linked arms on the sidewalk outside, chanting slogans and singing a song about solidarity to the tune of La Marseillaise.
Sacre bleu! Meanwhile, there's a great piece on not-usually-so-radical Nieman Watchdog from former Washington Post reporter John Hanrahan about our current police state and the war on free assembly. Here's a snippet:
Would those mayors and police chiefs, who are carrying out eviction raids on protesters in various cities around the country, enlighten us, pray tell, as to how protesters can mount a continuing, effective protest – a la Tahrir Square in Egypt – if police regularly evict them from public parks and plazas? Do they think protesters here should be regarded as potential terrorists and criminals to be surrounded with police, as in Zuccotti Park in New York, rather than treated as citizens exercising their rights as a free people? And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, do you really believe, as you have said, that there should be a “balance” between the right of people to assemble, protest and peaceably petition their government – and a supposed right of other people not to have a vigorous protest in the Wall Street neighborhood? Are you really on the right side of history when you comment that “the Constitution doesn’t protect tents. It protects speech and assembly”? Last time I read the document, I saw no constitutionally-guaranteed right to be free from annoyances or inconveniences caused by First Amendment practitioners.
To be clear, I'm not posting this because of Philadelphia -- where the police and the mayor have been very good so far and where arrests like today's are intentional acts of civil disobedience -- but because of the outrageous police actions from the Brooklyn Bridge to Oakland and a number of cities in between. But it's funny how all the tri-cornered hat-wearing defenders of the Constitution -- who warn of a too-powerful government -- have run away suddenly.