Saturday, April 30, 2011

Breach of the Peace

It is not uncommon to hear American activists criticize the overzealousness of the police and other authorities when it comes to the exercise of free speech and assembly. Gone are the days when there are large public political events and protesters are allowed anywhere near the festivities. No, they tend to be stuck in unaptly designated "free speech zones" that can be blocks away from the noted political speaker or goings on.

It doesn't simply occur on this side of the pond. As the Guardian reports, the authorities moved forcefully to quell any protest at all for the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Utilizing a British regulation, Section 60, the police were allowed to stop, question or detain anyone without discretion. Over 50 people were arrested BEFORE they could even attempt -- if that indeed was their aim -- to "breach the peace."

Reports have come out that several FaceBook pages -- which were being utilized for networking purposes by activists -- mysteriously were taken down as of the day before the event.

And why would some folks want to protest a public gala of royal proportions?
In London the daughter of Chris Knight, who was arrested with his partner and a friend, said the police were quashing freedom of expression. Olivia Knight said: "My father was going to take part in a performance. It was going to be in the great British tradition and was going to be playful, peaceful and satirical to highlight the obscenity of the royal wedding and the grotesque nature of the taxpayer having to pay for the Windsor wedding at a time of such austerity..."
Sounds to me like an excellent point to make. But alas, I guess free speech doesn't matter when royalty -- including economic royalty -- is the target!!

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