Boston Mayor: Civil Disobedience Will Not Be Tolerated

As complaints rise over mass arrests by Boston police in the Occupy Boston protests, Mayor Thomas Menino decided to add a rather draconian note by announcing ” “Civil disobedience will not be tolerated.” It was a moment reminiscent of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announcing in the 1968 Democratic Convention protests that “the policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

Of course, civil disobedience has long been a respected form of protest from Henry David Thoreau to Martin Luther King. The framers seemed keen on such rights when including in the first amendment that “Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It is painful to watch the reaction to these protests. I remain co-lead counsel in the World Bank case (Chang) where we are still litigating the mass arrest of hundreds of innocent citizens without probable cause in Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park.

While offering passing sympathy for protester, Menino draw a bright line regarding any exercise of free speech that crosses the line into civil disobedience: “when it comes to civil disobedience, I will not tolerate civil disobedience in the city of Boston.”

Menino’s comment will only serve to heighten tensions and could be viewed as an encouragement for harsher treatment of protesters. As the home of the Boston Tea Party and John Adams, the comments seem tragically misplaced in both location and time.

Source: Think Progress

111 thoughts on “Boston Mayor: Civil Disobedience Will Not Be Tolerated”

  1. OS, the assault on the Iraq vet was though covered on Countdown tonight.

    Thanks for the story on the attempted hit and run.

  2. raff, it is getting worse. This just in from a little while ago:

    “Protesters this evening gathered near the Washington Convention Center, where the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity was holding a gala. During the multifaceted protests, hundreds attempted to station themselves around all exits leading from the building.

    It was at this point that, along one of the roads leading out of the convention center, a silver Lexus ran through a line of protesters, hitting and injuring three. (All appearances indicate an attempted hit-and-run; however, only one person was taken into custody, and reports indicate that it was not the driver.)”

    Think about it. Silver Lexus. Driver runs over protesters. Driver not arrested. Protester arrested. Three injured enough to require medical care. I repeat, driver not arrested and goes on his merry way in his silver Lexus.

    Link with photos below.

  3. Another veteran assaulted by Oakland police. This was a bar owner walking home, in direction away from the OWS protest. Police confronted him and when he questioned what they wanted, he was beaten and arrested. Lacerated spleen and then it took him eighteen hours before he got medical attention. The Guardian appears to have picked up the story long before any US media did. At this writing, I cannot find any reference to the story on any of the MSM sites, but it is on overseas news pages and several blogs. The latest is that he is out of surgery and will make a good recovery. The city of Oakland’s insurer is no doubt going to drop them if this keeps up.

  4. This is from the AP, 11/2/11:

    Protesters who have occupied a government plaza in MINNEAPOLIS for nearly a month in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement soon will face new restrictions.

    Hennepin County officials said Wednesday they will begin winterizing the plaza between the county building and Minneapolis City Hall this Friday. They said protesters will have to consolidate their possessions and can’t leave them unattended anymore or they’ll be taken.

    The number of portable toilets is being cut from seven to three, and starting Friday no more signs will be allowed.

    County officials also said for the first time that they won’t allow overnight sleeping once significant snow falls or the temperature falls below 25 degrees.

    “We think that it’s a violation of our rights to free speech and free assembly,” said Nick Espinosa, one of the protest organizers. “You don’t put a curfew on the right to assemble, and that’s what they are trying to do on the plaza.”

    Espinosa said the crackdown on signage is “ridiculous.” He said organizers were meeting to come up with some long-term strategies. Some have already agreed to occupy the home of a person who is facing foreclosure _ an option that had been discussed before to help those in foreclosure as well as keep the protest going through Minnesota’s brutal winter _ but he said he imagines some people will chose to stay on the plaza.

    The Minneapolis protest has been largely peaceful through its first 25 days

  5. The Marine is a decorated combat veteran, Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY.

    Here is a better video. Note that the police supervisor with the bullhorn tried to get the crowd to move on. And I missed the size of the Marine. Sgt. Thomas is 6’5″ tall and an imposing figure. Any officer would have to think twice about taking him on, especially in front of many video cameras. Note also they seemed to be uncomfortable having their pictures taken.

    This is a much better video of the same incident. Whatever good will the NYPD had garnered from 9-11 has gone.

  6. I’m of the mind that the lack of demands from the OWSMovement is one if not the greatest strength of the movement. It makes them a mirror and doesn’t give the haves and their government lackey’s any thing to negotiate down to nothing. It fosters inclusion by lacking parameters, every group with a bone to pick can join the march. It makes the people who are/should be worried move first to try to assuage the sources of discontent.

    Gietner is promising something- effective something or other- and it’s up to him and his masters to see if it diffuses the anger. If it doesn’t then he can return to doing nothing or step up his game and do more, he’s not playing with a goal that he can negotiate down or say is unachievable but ‘look at what I’ve already done, no go back home and email me further suggestions.’

    It’s driving the pundits and politicians nuts, NUTS, that demands aren’t being made. It’s really quite a brilliant opening gambit.

  7. Good catch X2 OS. Also, heretofore th majority of violence has been done by white-shirts, the supervisors. They are following orders IMO that the city admin may not want to filter down to the blues yet. The level of violence is heating up though with horses now being used.

  8. Has anyone noticed that most of those assaulted by the police are women? Maybe this should be filed under the post about the Global War on Women.

    They can pepper spray and attack elderly holocaust survivors, teenage girls and Italian tourists, but tend to back off when confronted by an angry 250 pound, 6’3″ Marine. Interesting. Says something about the state of their cojones, no?

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