Activists continue to be arrested, assaulted and otherwise harassed by the nation’s police and government agencies for participating in nonviolent protests and other actions.
By Lauren Kelley
June 21, 2011
In recent months, police and government leaders have inappropriately, unfairly, and in some cases illegally targeted peaceful activists on a number of occasions.
That should come as a shock to no one, since government mistreatment of nonviolent activists has been going on for as long as activists have been pushing for social change in the U.S. — that is, as long as there has been a U.S. government.
Still, it’s distressing that after all these years, activists continue to be arrested, assaulted and otherwise harassed by the nation’s police and government agencies for participating in nonviolent protests and other actions.
What’s more, the recent mistreatment of activists is wildly hypocritical, since the Obama administration has over the past several months scolded governments in the Middle East for their heavy-handed treatment of pro-democracy protesters. For instance, both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton had stern words for Egyptian authorities earlier this year, as Chris Dunn reported in the Collegiate Times:
“So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly, association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny,” Obama said in a speech.
Likewise, Clinton said, “We call upon the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain security forces,” and two days later reiterated, “We have sent a very clear message: We want to see restraint, we do not want to see violence by any security forces.”
As Dunn notes, this rhetoric about rights to peaceful assembly and free speech is at odds with the government’s treatment of activists at events like the September 2009 G20 summit in Pittsburgh, when police and the National Guard, concerned about the actions of a small group of anarchists, targeted scores of nonviolent protesters with tear gas and excessive force.