Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hippie kids and god bless 'em

First, an apology: Earlier I called the victims of the St. Paul police intimidation 'loonies'. They believe things that I don't, that I sometimes find absurd, but there are things they are right about, too. And the truth is that there is something very wrong with this kind of policing.

The biggest point of agreement I have with these anarchists is that we use our rights or we lose them. The authoritarian instinct runs deep in government, especially in institutions run by Bushists and their sympathizers. They're happy to turn any conversation between people whose views they despise into some dark and violent conspiracy.

Not ignoring the past

Of course, we have seen before that some of these hippie kids are likely not to remain non-violent, and there are hints of it in some of the videos Glenn Greenwald is in or links to. However, there is a suitable and legal police response to this. That response does not include further trashing of the Constitution, and the SWAT-level raids are clearly about politics, not about law enforcement. We should all be very fearful of the continuing escalation of Big Brotherism.

In further defense of these young radicals, they do have a better record than police riot squads in confining their violence to property.

Official accountability?

Last (for now), there's missing accountability in our system for official violations of the Constitution. Ramsey Co. Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who is behind these raids, is not going to suffer any consequences for their illegality. I know that's a prediction, and I hate when other people make those; I'll happily retract it and apologize if someone can show me any single time in the past twenty years when a police official did time or paid a fine related to a rights violation (not including official violence). It just doesn't happen.

Further, the judiciary is supposed to restrain this sort of police misbehavior. Who is the judge or judges who signed these dubious warrants?

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