Anti-Protesting

Today, there are reports of anywhere between 10 and +23 Sudanese migrants protesting the U.N. refugee agency’s refusal to consider them for refugee status. There are varying accounts from the NY Times, CNN, and Al-Jazeera (never just look to one source for answers) but it has been universally recongized that a number of those killed were young children (as young as four), elderly people, and women. Additionally, the NY Times has particularly gripping pictures including one of a small child being ARRESTED along with his father as their peaceful protest is violently broken up.

Some people will say that this massacre is justified since there were repeated attempts by police to have the people disperse that were not heeded. Aren’t the repeated requests of the protesters the same thing? If the supposedly upright police resorted to violence after repeated requests for change went unheeded, what are protestors supposed to do when similar requests go unheeded? A basic thing here that people must realize is that protesting unjust laws or policies often brings about breaking these unjust laws and/or policies. The recent transit strike in New York City highlights another drastic suppression of protest by powerful government officials. Fines as high as $25,000 a day were pursued by the city’s legal representatives PER TRANSIT WORKER. People’s human right to protest is being taken from them at highly exorbitant financial and mortal costs.

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4 responses to “Anti-Protesting

  1. Similiarly, many states have abrogated the common law right to resist unlawful arrest. In most jurisdictions, absent relevant statutory guidance, judges can create binding common law as they see fit. The right to resist unlawful arrest finds its origins in 1600s English jurisprudence, and as nearly all states derive their foundational common law from pre-revolutionary English jurisprudence, the right to resist unlawful arrest has existed so long as a) the legislature of a state does not statutorily change the right or b) the judiciary does not dispose of the right.

    In my home state, Wisconsin, the right was abolished a few years ago under the pretense that the judicial system allows for adequate remedies to unlawful arrest. Since the increase in public safety promoted by reducing the likelihood that those under arrest will fight the officers was stronger than the humiliation, inconvienence and monetary losses incurred by unlawful arrest, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that the right was no longer necessary. Plus, they said, you can always file a 42 USC 1983 claim in the local federal district court alleging violation of civil rights.

    The recent trend, as evidenced in the less-than-polite responses police sometimes evince towards protests and the abrogation of rights that intend to protect the individual against the state, is to trust that government institutions are nearly always right. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. People are often wronged by government agents and unable to claim restitution because of lack of money to hire an attorney and other such problems. Trusting more to the judicial system leaves many who can’t reach the bar out in the cold.

  2. jersey, i don’t see the parallels between what happened in sudan and the new york transit strike. beyond the fact that it’s “oppression”, i don’t see anything more than that. if you’d elaborate further, that’d be helpful.

    also, i think there’s blame to be had for the adults of that sudanese group (not the elderly and children who are always unintended victims). but they’re in egypt! even in america you have police brutality. and it’s not as if we respect the rights of mexican citizens at the border. and they thought that the UN or western countries would be able to protect them? seriously, who would trust in the egyptian government?

  3. I agree with anonymous above, that the events aren’t really connected. I also don’t think the suppressing the transit strike had to as much with oppression of the transit workers’ voices as much as practicality. Mayor Bloomberg called the strike illegal and selfish, and rightfully so in my opinion. It cost the city $10 million/day in policemen overtime fees, cost-controlling cabs, redirecting traffic — not to mention the money lost in revenues from people not shopping and eating out, and the millions of people who couldn’t make it to work. New York simply cannot function without a mass transit system. This is an entirely separate issue from what happened with the Sudanese migrants — those people seemed to have been protesting peacefully without hurting anyone, much less shutting down a city.

  4. Speaking of police brutality and the like, did you guys hear about what happened in Meerut, India? Unmarried couples sitting in a park were beaten up for indecent unwed public behaviour (i.e., sitting together, heads in laps, that kind of thing). In a way, I suppose they were “protesting” the existing social structures of small town India…

    Article from the Times of India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1339622.cms

    And from the NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/04/international/asia/04india.html?ex=1136523600&en=f9c36ee359038bb3&ei=5070

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