Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm getting a little concerned

Look, I get it.  The Occupy protests are unlike anything we've seen before.  For a loosely organized group of protests without a dynamic leader or two and no discernible or specific goals they seem to be gaining some traction worldwide and that can be scary for some folks.

But anyone who thinks that every single police department in each of the individual cities other than Washington, DC just decided that 1 AM EST on the same day was the day to go in and topple the tents and send people home on their own without talking to each other is kidding themselves.  There is no way that many cities just decided it was time for the protesters in each city to go home.  It was done with the precision of a military strike with just one city opting out.  Good on you, DC.  You protected exactly what you were supposed to - our rights.

Whether or not you agree with what Occupy stands for, if you live in the United States you live under the rules of the Constitution.  You enjoy the right of the First Amendment.  This is our law, our foundation, our religion in a sense.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Nowhere in that sentence does it say that you can't bring tents, sleeping bags, or sit down, or lie down or even spend the night.  In fact, it says the government CANNOT STOP YOU FROM DOING ANY OF THOSE THINGS.

You are even allowed to burn a flag.

To burn a dollar bill.

To shout, scream and fight for your rights.

All of them.

Including your Second Amendment rights.  You know - the one that lets you carry a gun?

As an employee of both the National Park Service and the United States Postal Service I took an oath.  The same oath every Federal employee takes from the lowest level to the President of the United States.  Every member of the military whether they are career or reservists.  Every member of Congress, every Senator and every Justice takes this oath as well.  The words do not change based on your job.  This is that oath taken directly from the website for the Office of Personnel Management:

I, [name], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.

This is me discharging my duty - a duty I still feel strongly about even though I am no longer an employee of the United States Postal Service.  It is my duty to point out to you, my readers, that perhaps our First Amendment rights are being trampled on by local law enforcement.

Occupy is a protest.  It is an amazingly peaceful protest with only a few truly violent actions.  Trust me, if you want to see a violent protest check out Rome and Greece just a couple of weeks ago.  Those protests were in support of the US protests and boy did Rome burn.

Burn - as in fire.

And rocks being thrown.

Last time I checked, while there have been some incidents of violence resulting in really a couple of negative outcomes, these protests have been incredibly peaceful and respectful.

Two months and so few acts of violence that the news outlets haven't been reporting on the protests for the most part.  In other words - a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances.  Exactly what our Constitution protects whether it be for a group of people who wish to wear red, white and blue to listen to speakers at a Tea Party rally or pitch tents and sleep outside during the winter.

It is their right.

And it is our responsibility to protect that right.

If we don't stand up for our basic rights as citizens of this country regardless of whether or not we agree with what is being said are we still guaranteed those rights?

Or are we slowly giving them away?

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