Ok, I wrote my holiday send-off before reading today's Post. That was a mistake. Check this out. (Also, a hat tip to Read Express.)
I'm constantly disappointed by Americans' ignorance regarding the First Amendment. Here's a fun game: At the Thanksgiving table, ask your family members if they can name the five freedoms protected by the Amendment. I bet it takes them a while. The answer is of course speech, religion, press, petition, and assembly.
Apparently the MPD isn't so hot on assembly.
The D.C. police department agreed yesterday to pay $685,000 and take steps to protect protesters from police abuse and ensure their rights to settle a lawsuit over the treatment of demonstrators at President Bush's inauguration in 2001.
The lawsuit uncovered evidence that the department had suspended rules limiting the use of force during the protests, had pressed undercover officers to infiltrate protest groups and had sought to provoke protesters and uninvolved bystanders by attacking them with batons and pepper spray.
Good grief. The MPD decided to take away a Constitutional right. There's no way around that. They knew very well that people had the right to protest a questionably elected president and the police decided to take it away from us. This is beyond outrageous. They started fights as an excuse to arrest protesters! The police shouldn't do that!
The MPD also has some issues with the Fourth Amendment as well:
The settlement, which comes as Ramsey is preparing to leave his post, is the latest in a series of payments the city has made stemming from police conduct at demonstrations. In January 2005, the District government agreed to pay $425,000 to seven people caught up in a mass arrest at Pershing Park in September 2002. More than 400 people were rounded up at the downtown park during demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Several investigations found that Assistant Chief Peter J. Newsham, after conferring with Ramsey, had ordered arrests without warning or evidence of a crime -- including of people who had nothing to do with the protests...
In January 2004, the city agreed to pay $7,000 to $10,000 to each of three Corcoran College of Art students who sued. The students had said that they were photographing the Pershing Park protests and were encouraged by police to enter the park and then arrested in the roundup.
(Emphasis is mine.)
Between the $20 million we're going to have to pay the Rosenbaum family and the million dollars we're spending because of blatant Constitutional violations, I would say that the incompetence of Washington officials is costing the taxpayers (like myself) quite a pretty penny. Now do you see why Bethesda is the Holy Land?
I shouldn't overreact. It's only $21 million dollars being wasted. Not too much in the grand scheme of things. It's not like Washington would be dumb enough to spend, oh, I don't know, $686,000,000.00 on a doomed "public works" project. I mean, that would be crazy!
(It was only ten minutes ago that I published a post where I promised to try to not write about the stadium so damn much. My promises are worthless.)
The silver lining in all this mess is that Chief Charles Ramsey is finally gone. Maybe now I can start a petition without the fear of incarceration hanging over my head. I like how the progress that America made 215 years ago is just now coming into vogue here in Washington. It's like The Village, but without that dreamy Joaquin Phoenix.