Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Occupy Wall St. pepper spray proves police need to treat liberal protesters same as conservative protesters

with 2 comments

Has a teabagger ever been tear-gassed?

Watching those poor young women being pepper sprayed in the Occupy Wall St. demonstrations made me wonder if right-wing protesters ever suffer any negative reaction from the police or other authorities.

Do teabaggers get their heads bashed? Forced to breathe in tear gas? Tasered? Being inside a barrier? Cornered alongside innocent bystanders?

We’re told that conservatives get angry (Obama/Hitler signs, fetus pictures) but they don’t get angry enough to upset the police or force them to take action. Conservatives don’t usually have a problem getting permits to protest, a major hurdle liberals can’t always climb. And while the teabaggers are fighting authority, usually that authority isn’t right in their faces.

These young women were part of a protest but weren’t confronting the police, weren’t even angry enough for officers to be concerned. And yet they were pepper-sprayed; others were as well.

Some of those in Toronto at the corner of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue were heading to a protest. A lot of them were waiting for streetcars or crossing an intersection when they were swept up by police and then were boxed into a crowd with no escape and a subsequent rainstorm.

Countless protests over the years. Police responding with tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, tasers, and a host of other weapons — sometimes justified, often not justified.

The teabaggers are protesting because they don’t like the direction the country is going, and so they take to the streets. So are the liberals. Yet the teabaggers don’t suffer the indignities, pain, and violence that liberal protesters suffer.

Anti-abortion protesters restrain trade, something conservatives don’t normally like to see. They harass people from getting medical care, and yet they don’t suffer as a result from the police.

Teabaggers get angry. Fred Phelps and his crowd get angry. Liberals get angry. But only liberals suffer physical pain.

We could be wrong. A teabagger might be a corn on a foot from protesting. One of Phelps’ people might get a blister of some kind.

Police don’t look at teabaggers and anti-abortion fanatics with the same resolve as liberals get. Conservatives tend to dress better when they protest. They are almost exclusively Caucasian. They get easier access to permits. They might use less profanity.

Blaming the way police treat liberals on the 1968 Democratic Convention or other Vietnam War protests is as lame as it sounds. That was so last century.

Now that conservatives are taking to the streets beyond anti-abortion protests, whatever rules we set as a society for protesters need to be consistent. While the police could treat conservatives as roughly as they do liberals, how about managing a liberal protest with the same care, concern, and decorum that they save for teabaggers or anti-abortion protesters.

No accidental pepper spray. No intimidating cornering of innocent bystanders. No bashing of heads just because they are in front of you.

Police have to respond according to training when they are threatened, regardless of ideology. When they aren’t threatened, they should behave according to police procedure. They don’t seem to have any trouble doing this when conservatives protest, just liberals.


2 Responses

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  1. You should check out your comments on anti-abortion protesters. Cops can get pretty rough with them. SF Chronicle’s Bob Egelko did a piece on the UC Davis pepper spraying. He mentions anti-abortion and anti-logging cases. I also think a judge in Texas upheld pepper spray against handcuffed anti-abortion people. A decade or so back I recall pro-lifers being dragged away roughly,. I think it was Kansas or Missouri.

    james o. clifford

    November 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

  2. Conservative demonstrators don’t get much trouble from the authorities because they’re out there supporting those authorities. Cops know that they’re there to protect the rights and properties of the rich from those who might be suffering “class envy”, who want to steal their hard-earned (or inherited, or stolen) “private property”. American conservatives, when you strip away the newspeak and propaganda, essentially believe that the wealthiest among us are being oppressed and persecuted by the poorest, and the government should act primarily to protect them.


    February 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

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