Playlist: CIVIL LIBERTIES
Compiled By: Erika McGinty
Will "9/11" forever justify everything?
Can civilians draw a line ... somewhere?
Or are we helpless against government encroachments - in the name of public security! - on our bodies and minds?
From Matt Ehling | 58:54
Documentary on national security policy and civil liberties
"Taking Liberties" is a one hour documentary that examines the impact of four decades of national security and law enforcement policy on the Bill of Rights. From the Drug War to the War on Terror, government actions have raised concerns about challenges to the individual liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. "Taking Liberties" examines this confluence, with commentary from across the political spectrum - from Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, to Nancy Chang of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Taking Liberties" also includes interviews with journalists and academics who have examined the Constitutional and policy issues that underlie this phenomenon.
Cartoonist and author Ted Rall talks about his book, THE ANTI-AMERICAN MANIFESTO. And poet Martin Espada reads a poem about the nonviolent people’s rebellion in Mexico, called “Sing Zapatista.”
Many Americans have been glued to the TV or internet, following the history-making pro-democracy uprisings that are spreading throughout the Middle East. The spark was first lit in Tunisia, leaped to Egypt and now is blazing up against other repressive regimes, from Bahrain and Yemen to Iran.
But what about right here at home? No less a figure than Bob Herbert, columnist of the New York Times, asked whether it was time for Americans to follow Egypt’s example.
Ted Rall has written a book about just that. He takes inspiration from America’s founding fathers, whose American revolution sparked a wave of rebellion much like the one we are beginning to see today. Thomas Jefferson famously said “experience has shown that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, perverted it into tyranny” and that “every generation needs a revolution”.
In his new book, the ANTI AMERICAN MANIFESTO, Ted Rall says the time for a new revolution has come. He’s probably known to most listeners as the trenchant political cartoonist that long graced the op ed pages of the New York Times and other publications syndicating his work across the U.S. (In an openly political move, The New York Times stopped publishing Rall’s work in 2004.) But he’s also been a columnist for United Press Syndicate, produced a radio show in LA, and published numerous books, including WAKE UP: YOU’RE LIBERAL: How We Can Take America Back From The Right; SILK ROAD TO RUIN, about Central Asia; and most recently, THE ANTI-AMERICAN MANIFESTO.
Rall says the system is corrupt and unreformable; it’s time for a people’s revolution because as difficult and chaotic as that may be, it’s far better than the catastrophe we face if we don’t take action.
(Note: He talked to Writers Voice a few days before Mubarak fell from power in Egypt.)
From Iowa Public Radio | 16:26
In a speech to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, Christopher Dodd said the Bush administration has violated the U-S Constitution at every turn of the Iraq war.
Christopher Dodd participated in a discussion Tuesday night on rule of law hosted by the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. He pointed to Bush administration-created military tribunals intended to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay. He said it's unfortunate presidential candidates are now forced to defend the Constitution. Dodd said his first executive order as Commander-in-Chief would be to restore the Constitution of the U-S to the American people.
"You want to send a message? Call Western Union," said Sam Goldwyn. How the messages have been sent, and how they have been received by a nation often hungry for reassurance.
- WNYC's Fishko Files: What Can I Say: Culture of ...
"You want to send a message? Call Western Union," said Sam Goldwyn. Right now, as "loyalty" and "treason" are being redefined by world events, so are cultural expressions of patriotism and dissent. From "message" pictures in the old Hollywood, to morale-building songs, to satirists' comic visions, politics and mass culture have been inexorably linked. Through stories from people like comedian Mort Sahl, entertainer Tom Smothers, The Daily Show's Mo Rocca, critic Molly Haskell, writer/producer Larry Gelbart, The New York Times' Frank Rich and many others, this program will examine the connections between culture and country, and how the establishment has responded to the pushes against it. We'll hear history, as Frank Sinatra, preaches "tolerance" on radio at the end of World War II, and current events, as Aaron McGruder's comic strip risks being pulled from tomorrow's newspaper. What Can I Say will examine how the messages have been sent, and how they have been received by a nation often hungry for reassurance.
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Over the next two weeks, we broadcast the documentary film “COINTELPRO 101,” about the secret FBI program which ran from 1956-1971, and disrupted many movements for self-determination by people of color in the US. Today, we hear the first half of the film, produced by the Freedom Archives.
COINTELPRO, the secret FBI project to infiltrate and disrupt domestic organizations thought to be “subversive.”, targeted many African-American, Native-American, and other movements for self-determination by people of color in the US. Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI conducted more than 2,000 COINTELPRO operations. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be broadcasting the documentary film “COINTELPRO 101.” Today we hear the first half of the film, produced by the Freedom Archives.
Special thanks to The Freedom Archives.
The National Security Agency was once nicknamed "No Such Agency." For years, the U.S. government wouldn't admit it existed. James Bamford is the author of the only two books ever written about it.
The NSA is thought to be the largest intelligence agency in the world, and it's probably the most secretive. The NSA uses futuristic supercomputers to eavesdrop on people. It collects millions of phone calls and emails every hour. In 2002, President Bush gave the NSA the authority to tap U.S. citizens' communications without a warrant. James Bamford joined the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the NSA's warrantless wiretap program. James Bamford was the keynote speaker at the American Civil Liberties Union's annual membership conference on February 24, 2007. We'll also hear President Bush defend the NSA wiretap program on Sept 7, 2006. We'll also hear an excerpt of Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee on January 17, 2007 in defense of the program. Fits a 1 hour program with a 5 min news hole.
How do we protect our privacy when Big Government and Big Business morph into Big Brother? Next on Moyers & Company.
Whatever your take on the recent revelations about government spying on our phone calls and Internet activity, there’s no denying that Big Brother is bigger and less brotherly than we thought. What’s the resulting cost to our privacy -- and more so, our democracy? On the next Moyers & Company, Lawrence Lessig, professor of law and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and founder of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, joins Bill to discuss the implications of our government’s actions and Edward Snowden’s role in leaking the information.
Few are as knowledgeable about the impact of the Internet on our public and private lives as Lessig, who argues that government needs to protect American rights with the same determination and technological sophistication it uses to invade our privacy and root out terrorists. “What do we put into place to check government officials to make sure they behave in a way that respects our most fundamental values?” Lessig asks.
A former conservative who’s now a liberal, Lessig also knows that the caustic impact of money is another weapon capable of mortally wounding democracy. His recent book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress -- and a Plan to Stop It, decries a pervasive “dependence corruption” in our government and politics that should sound a desperate alarm for both the Left and the Right. On the broadcast, Lessig outlines a radical approach to the problem that uses big money itself to reform big money-powered corruption.
How do we protect our privacy when Big Government and Big Business morph into Big Brother? Next on Moyers & Company.
From KRCC-FM | 07:22
Commentary on the state of civil liberties in America
Rachel Chaparro of the Colorado office of the American Civil Liberties Union explains why the ACLU is suing the National Security Agency over its eavesdropping practices, and invites listeners to learn more at meetings in Pueblo and Salida.
From Matt Ehling | 58:31
Hour documentary on political debates over Constitutional issues
What does the United States Constitution tell us about the defining political issues of our day? And how do we interpret the document to find those answers? This one hour documentary examines the meaning of the Constitution through the lens of several different political persuasions, and it investigates how differing views of the document impact today's political debates. In order to illustrate the impact of Constitutional interpretation on the real world, "Intent" focuses on four cases studies. From medical marijuana, to warrantless wiretapping, to gun control laws, to "eminent domain" land seizures, "Intent" examines Constitutional tensions between individual liberty, and government authority. Program interviews range across the political spectrum - from Elliot Mincberg of People For The American Way, to Roger Pilon of the CATO Institute, to the American Conservative Union's David Keene. Noted academics such as George Washington Law School's Mary Cheh also make appearances. The program is cut to allow a "news hole" near the top of the hour, and a one minute mid-program break for station identification.
The outer bounds of the right to free speech, on this episode of BeyondtheBlackLetter. How does the law tolerate speech that calls for lawlessness?
From Voices of Our World | 28:00
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING ON BIG CORPORATIONS SUPPORT TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS.
Part One: THE SUPREME COURT GOES ROGUE
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HAS RECENTLY RULED THAT BIG CORPORATIONS HAVE THE SAME 1ST AMMENDMENT RIGHTS AS JOHN OR MARY DOE. STAY WITH US TODAY, AND YOU’LL HEAR FROM ATTORNEY, SUSAN LERNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMON CAUSE, NEW YORK, AND NICK NYHART, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC CAMPAIGN.
Part Two: THE SUPREME COURT GOES ROGUE
PUBLIC CAMPAIGN IS A NON-PROFIT, NON-PARTISAN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO SWEEPING CAMPAIGN REFORM THAT AIMS TO DRAMATICALLY REDUCE THE ROLE OF BIG SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY IN AMERICAN POLITICS. OUR GUEST NICK NYHART IS THE PUBLIC CAMPAIGN’S CO-FOUNDER, PRESIDENT AND C.E.O.
From Voices of Our World | 27:58
Why is the Bush administration insisting on spying on Americans illegally? We put that and related questions to Melvin Goodman. Before becoming a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, Goodman served in the United States Army for 3 years, in the Department of Defense for nearly 18 years and as a Senior Analyst and Division Chief with the Central Intelligence Agency for 24 years. Kathy Golden talks by phone with Melvin Goodman.
PART 1: Can You Hear Me Now? Our government is listening in on some of our phone calls and data-mining our internet transactions. The 4th amendment to our Constitution says ?no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause?. But should authorities feel an immediate need to wiretap your or my phone, the 1978 Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA Law gives the government 3 days to retroactively seek a warrant and the secret FISA Court has only turned down 5 out of 19,000 such requests. So if it?s so easy to spy on us legally why is the Bush administration insisting on spying on Americans illegally? We put that and related questions to Melvin Goodman. Before becoming a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, Goodman served in the United States Army for 3 years, in the Department of Defense for nearly 18 years and as a Senior Analyst and Division Chief with the Central Intelligence Agency for 24 years. Kathy Golden talks by phone with Melvin Goodman. Part 2: Probable Cause: The NSA?s warrantless wiretap program is necessary to gather intelligence that will keep us safe? the say. Some have called the Bush administration an ?imperial presidency? and offered that the breaking of the 4TH amendment and the FISA Law may be more about testing the limits of the powers of the Executive Branch than honest or truly necessary surveillance. President Nixon?s former White House Counsel, John Dean, the author of ?Worse Than Watergate?, has stated that in admitting to skirting the FISA Law, ?President Bush has admitted to an impeachable offense?. Kathy Golden speaks with Larisa Alexandrovna, Investigative Journalist for Raw Story.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York American Civil Liberties Union, champions causes that are popular and unpopular. She is fighting for the rights of illegal immigrants, Occupy Wall Street protesters and public school children who were arrested for writing on their desks. Her intense interest in protecting civil liberties was inspired by her father, who was persecuted for his ideals during the McCarthy era in the 1950's.
The controversial case of Texas v. Johnson. Is flag burning protected as speech?
Narrator #1: It’s generally acknowledged that the American flag is a revered symbol of our nation. It’s flown outside of houses, schools, and stadiums. Since 1776 when Betsy Ross stitched the first flag, it's been fundamentally linked to the global image of the United States. It incorporates our nation’s history, and illustrates our current identity.
Narrator #2: But what does the flag actually mean to Americans and how can it be used to convey a message by way of protest and desecration? We examine these issues on today's episode of Get Up, Stand Up, Protest!
Narrator #1: The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." On face value, this means that the United States government cannot enact laws that regulate the speech of citizens. And with the Fourteenth Amendment the Court has also protected speech from State regulation.
Narrator #2: But historically, the First Amendment has protected more than what is readily apparent in the text. The Court has interpreted the “Freedom of Speech” clause to include a variety of elements that are complements to speech. This includes symbolic speech and expressive conduct, which consist of actions that convey a particular message so clearly that it is indistinguishable from any verbal communication of that same message.
“If someone says to you, ‘ Do you agree with what I’m saying?’ and you nod your head ‘yes,’ that’s conduct. But it’s also expression. It’s also speech in a different form. That’s a very elementary example, but you can see where conduct can be expression and certainly the United States Supreme Court in that case and in other cases have established that." Bradley interview, 4:19-4:50,
That was Ann Walsh Bradley, a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who has dealt with many free speech cases, including cases of flag desecration.
Narrator #1: Symbolic speech, or expressive conduct, also includes actions like wearing an armband to protest the Vietnam War. The Court has ruled that expressive conduct and symbolic speech cannot be regulated without a compelling state interest. It has allowed the regulation of conduct that lacks any significant meaning or expression, like punching someone in the face. Conduct like fighting words or obscenity has no significant value or political mission, so unlike symbolic speech, it can be regulated.
Narrator #2: These variations of speech are often contested, since it is difficult to concretely discern whether or not conduct and actions hold expressive or symbolic meaning. One of the most challenged actions protected under the Court’s definition of speech is the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
Narrator #1: By the 1980s, many states had enacted laws to protect the flag as a significant symbol of our country. But as always happens with laws, people break them. Protesters desecrated the American flag, violating these statutes, in order to illustrate their frustration with the government and with the United States' actions.
Narrator #2: For Gregory Johnson, the flag represented the imperialistic policies of the Reagan administration. At the Republican National Convention of 1984, Johnson gathered together with a group of protesters who disagreed with America's then existing foreign policies. During the protest, Johnson burned an American flag and was arrested and convicted in violation of a Texas statute which banned desecration of the flag.
Narrator #1: During the appeals process, Johnson presented the Supreme Court with a difficult question: Is flag burning protected under the First Amendment as symbolic speech? Or is it regulable as potentially dangerous conduct?
Narrator #2: The justices agreed that, for better or worse, the flag is a powerful symbol of America. When people from other countries see the flag, they associate it with the American government. “Now why does, why does the… why did the defendant’s actions here destroy the symbol? His actions would have been useless unless the flag was a very good symbol for what he intended to show contempt for. His action does not make it any less a symbol.” That was Justice Scalia questioning the lawyer for the state of Texas, wondering why Johnson’s actions served to “destroy” the flag as a symbol. Justice Bradley agrees:
"the flag is a symbol of what we are as a nation and who we believe in as a people."
Interview 12:50 to 13:20, Bradley talks about significance of flag and the lives lost to protect it.
Since the flag serves as such an important symbol, Texas argued that it had the right to protect that symbol from destruction and maintain the integrity of America.
But justices have to look beyond what the public considers offensive and even what they themselves consider offensive.
"Do I find it offensive? I find it very offensive. Do I find it constitutional or unconstitutional? That’s a different inquiry. But offensive- do any of you think that kind of behavior is okay? No! But whether or not you like the behavior, it doesn’t inform the legal analysis, I don’t think. I mean, there are lots of things I don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they’re illegal or that the Constitution weighs in one way or the other." Time 11:06-11:50.
Narrator #2: Although his behavior offended many Americans, the Court ruled that because Johnson burned such an important symbol during a political protest, his actions were “overtly political.” In prior decisions, the Supreme Court had decided that as a rule, political speech could not be suppressed just because the content of that speech offended the majority of Americans. This principle directed the Court's analysis of the Texas law. As Justice O'Connor said,
“Well I thought that the Court held that it’s firmly settled under the Constitution, that the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of the hearers. And this statute seems to try to achieve exactly that.”
Narrator #1: On the other side of the argument, the attorneys for the state of Texas maintained that the Flag is an important symbol. As such, it deserves a certain level of respect and protection under state and federal laws. They also argued that Johnson's action of burning the flag put society at risk for riots and outbursts.
"With respect to the symbolic speech standard, we believe that there are compelling state interests that will in a balancing posture override this individual's symbolic speech rights, and that preserving the flag as a symbol, because it is such a national property, is one of those."
Narrator #2: Ultimately, the Court ruled in favor of Johnson, saying that his action of burning the flag was protected by the First Amendment as political, symbolic speech. The Court's decision in Texas v. Johnson protected a First Amendment right to desecrate the American Flag in order to express anti-American sentiments. As Justice Kennedy wrote in a concurring opinion, "It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt."
Insert here interview with Bradley time 22:40 to 23:09, she speaks about the Court, even if they don’t like it, they are duty-bound to be guardians of the Constitution.
Narrator #2: You might think that the Court's decision in Texas v. Johnson would put an end to the issue of the prohibition of flag desecration, but instead this decision sparked outrage in government buildings and bowling halls across America.
Narrator #1: Soon after the Court's ruling, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act which read:
"Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both."
This national law outlawed flag desecration in all fifty states and unquestionably challenged the decision in Texas v. Johnson. It was a slap in the face to the Supreme Court and the Court, wielding the Constitution as a weapon, fought back.
Narrator #2: Almost immediately after the passage of the Flag Protection Act in 1990, four men, including Sean Eichman, were arrested and convicted of burning a flag on the steps of the Capitol building during a protest of US policy. Not surprisingly, the Court ruled in U.S. v. Eichman exactly the same way as it had ruled one year before; it declared that once again flag desecration was protected under the First Amendment.
Narrator #1: But instead of calming the argument about flag desecration, the Court's decision inflamed already present passions about the flag. Both sides believe that the American Flag is a symbol of the fundamental rights.
Narrator #2: Those who support the Court's decision in flag desecration cases hold that the symbolic nature of the flag makes it a particularly effective symbol in protest. They also believe that the flag, and the Constitution it represents, gives Americans the right to destroy it.
Narrator #1: On the other hand, opponents of the Court's decision argue that the Flag is such an important representation of our country that it deserves respect.
"The Flag is a national symbol, its a living symbol of America."
That was the opinion of a former member of the United States army who served for 21 years whose name we can't reveal due to privacy requirements. Those who oppose the Court's decision also believe that flag desecration should be considered conduct and not speech under the First Amendment, which would mean that any act of desecration to the flag would be regulable because such laws would not infringe on any constitutional rights.
Narrator #2: Faced with failure in their attempt to change the opinion of the Supreme Court and to create a national law against flag desecration, opponents of the Court's decision in Texas v. Johnson and US v. Eichman realized they had only one remaining option: they needed to change the Constitution. Thus came the birth of the Flag Desecration Amendment. Just ten days after the Court's ruling in Eichman, reaffirming the First Amendment protection of flag desecration, Congress voted on a version of the proposed amendment.
Narrator #1: The proposed Flag Desecration Amendment reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Just 17 words long, this proposed change to the Constitution has sparked a heated debate.
"I think there should be an amendment to the Constitution concerning the American flag and its desecration. Period." "If someone is not happy with an organization or a group in the United States, they have a right to protest. They have the right to disagree with them. But they also have the right to do it within the legal limits of the law. And you can protest all you want. The problem is when you start going outside the law, and in this case, destroying the national symbol."
Narrator #2: Since 1995, the Flag Desecration Amendment has come very close to reality, losing by one or two votes in the Senate on six occasions, and it will likely be seen again. Will America decide to protect the flag, a valued symbol of our nation? Or will the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment override this protection? Justice Bradley puts it another way,
"It’s a balancing, I guess in some ways, of the things that we hold dear: the 1st Amendment and a symbol like our flag."
In the final episode of Get Up, Stand Up, Protest! we examine the current limits of protest rights by looking at the arrest of 8 protesters at the Republican National Convention in 2008.
RNC8 Segment Script
(Audio clips from protesters at the Republican National Convention before explaining the significance of the case)
Narrator: One morning in late August, the police raided the homes of 8 Twin Cities residents and detained them on charges of rioting in the furtherance of terrorism in the days before the Republican National Convention.
Those arrested that day are the group popularly known as the RNC 8. They are reportedly members of the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group that had the intention of being a vocal presence at the Convention. The RNC Welcoming Committee wanted to intervene and distract convention attendees by protesting the Republican platform. These actions allegedly included kidnapping delegates and causing riots outside the Convention along with violent disruptions and acts of terrorism.
The groups’ members built coalitions and fundraised within the Twin Cities community. Members of RNC Welcoming Committee came to the Twin Cities with the intention of having their voices heard through the expression of active protest. According to the police, the actions of the RNC8 crossed the line of speech plus, but others maintain it was well within their right of personal speech.
The choice of Saint Paul for the Republican National Convention surprised many. Reaction for and against the RNC proved swift. Some residents believed the convention would provide an economic boon that the city needed during the beginnings of the recession. Businesses capitalized on the novelty of the situation and hotels catered to political elites. The convention drew media attention from around the world.
The Minnesota Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney of Ramsey County, Susan Gaertner, quoted the 1969 Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio saying “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” They maintain that the actions of the members of the RNC 8 fell into this categorization. The probable cause behind the issuance of the search warrants was information stemming from confidential sources. The searches revealed no direct evidence of the actions the RNC 8 are charged with. In December of 2008, the district attorney added further riot and property damage charges against the members of the RNC8.
Excerpts from Bruce Nestor:
The Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild quickly released a statement in response to the arrest of the RNC 8. Its president, noted Minneapolis civil rights and immigration attorney Bruce Nestor, agreed to take their case. The first statement released by the Guild responded to what some observers perceived as the political motivation for the arrests. In response to the original charges, which included the terrorism enhancement, Mr. Nestor was quoted as saying “These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the defendants on trial. …The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience.”
Later press releases by the Guild have criticized various aspects of the police’s conduct during the arrests, specifically targeting Ramsey County sheriff, Bob Fletcher. According to these press releases, in the searches of four Twin Cities residences, “Police seized political literature, cellphones, computers, cameras, personal diaries, and many common household items such as paint, rope, and roofing nails. These items are present in almost any home in south Minneapolis and are not evidence of a crime.” Mr. Nestor has also stated “Seizing boxes of political literature shows the motive of these raids was political. Sheriff Fletcher has staged a publicity stunt, violated constitutional rights, and misrepresented what was seized during the raids.”
National coverage of the case has dissipated, but community interest in the RNC8 has not. The direct questions posited by the case of the RNC8 are as follows: Did they really plan to kidnap delegates, raid the Excel Energy Center and vandalize public property? Or were they simply engaging in civil disobedience? And finally, did the police have the right to preemptively invade the Welcoming Committee's homes?
Interview 1: Emily Cox
We may never know exactly what the RNC 8 intended to do in the way of protest. But much of the resistance that did occur also met opposition from law enforcement. Emily Cox, a senior at Macalester, participated in the protest against the Republican National Convention. She recounted the day’s events to our correspondent, which culminated in the confrontation by the Ramsey County Police Department:
Narrator: Many of the protesters at the Republican National Convention came with the intention of championing a variety of causes, could you explain your reasons for protesting the RNC?
(audio tape) (3mins5secs)Cox: I marched with the Funk the War, which was organized by SDS, ... it was a mobile dance party protest ...there were students from a whole spectrum of political ideologies…(2 mins 24secs ) it was as much about the Democrats and the similarities between their ideologies, their platforms, not really being that different and not being that much of a choice, and against out current system of government in general…
Narrator: Would you recite the first day’s event of the protest you experienced?
Cox (1min3secs): there was a huge coalition of different organizations just wanting to have a huge presence on the first day of the convention…](6MINS) There was the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign March, and I went down late and joined that march towards the end ... it ended at the Excel Center ... it was a really powerful march to be a part of ... right at St. Peter ... there were riot cops blockading two sides of the intersection ... there was only one way out ... they called for dismissal and people were not moving quick enough for them, I guess ... we were heading up the block and we noticed to our left in this shady parking lot ...they had this a canister for tear gas pointed at the crowd behind us ... they unleashed tear gas, flash grenades, ... it was mostly tear gas ...you can't see and you can't breath, it just fills the air, it's pretty scary ...
Narrator: Could you articulate on the events leading up to being peppered with tear-gas and flash-grenades?
[First Day]...(3MINS10SECS)we danced through the streets, literally ...there was a police blockade ... the march came up against them, they shoved the march with their bikes, and they pushed us back before we pushed them ...we were sprayed with pepper spray ... I saw them whip it out just in time to turn my head ...it's a terrible sensation, it's just burning ... we kept on moving and we kept on going ... it was a survivor sort of mentality
[in regards to the teargassing](8MINS30SECS) it immediately engulfed us...there were just tears and snot running down my face ... it was hard to walk ... we were just trying to get out of there ... the intersections we were going through were lined with riot cops on each side ... there were teargas and flash bombs going off in front of us ... there was no one ahead of us and there was no other way out but they were shooting teargas in front of us so we would have to walk through it ... there was no purpose for it, there was no reason for them to do that except to terrorize us.
Narrator: In your view, how does the RNC8 case pertain to freedoms covered under the First Amendment?
(AROUND 11MINS)both the organizers of the protest and the police were, sort of, misguiding people...a really intense week for everyone involved...it was called by many people, a "police-state" and that's definitely what i experienced...as far as us exercising our rights, that wasn't really an option for us...when the cops wanted us to leave, that's what we had to do, and that it was just what they wanted us to do all times ... using, what they called "less-than-lethal" weapons...i don't think they cared why we were there or what rights we may or may not have had...the strict regulations around permitting marches and what was and was not allowed was just seriously restricting freedoms ... freedom of speech, freedom to assembly ... it was falling on deaf ears
The Court has tackled the issue of extreme responses to protests before. In 1965, 23 black student protesters were arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for picketing a segregated restaurant. A black minister named Elton Cox then led an anti-discrimination march of roughly two-thousand members in front of the courthouse in which the students were being held. The protesters agreed to remain across the street from the courthouse so as to avoid disrupting traffic. As 200-300 hundred whites began to assemble in front of the courthouse, the protesters started to sing hymns. Cox then gave a speech encouraging the protesters to go sit at segregated restaurants, which caused a stir among the whites. A sheriff, fearing conflict, ordered the protesters to disperse and upon their refusal police used tear gas to disperse them.
Elton Cox was arrested the following day for disturbance of the peace. He was convicted and his case eventually made it before the Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Court decided that a peaceable demonstration that contained speech which could potentially incite violence infringed on the freedoms of speech and assembly. Speech, even if it's provocative and deals with controversial thoughts, must be protected because of its value to the expression of ideas.
Ever since the 1940s the Supreme Court has differentiated between political speech and all other forms of speech. In free expression cases, there are forms of protected speech and forms of unprotected speech. Protected speech is speech which contributes to the “marketplace of ideas” and that cannot be prohibited on the basis of its disagreeableness.
Protected speech includes all political speech to avoid threatening the freedoms held under the Constitution. Therefore if the RNC 8's actions would have been legitimate political expression, then the speech would be protected and their arrest would be unconstitutional. However, if their actions were judged not to have a political message, or if they incited imminent lawless action, their arrest would be lawful.
Interview with Linda Slocum:
Protests at the Republican National Convention have added to the active political culture of the Twin Cities. Linda Slocum, a state representative with the Democratic Party, spoke with our correspondent about the issue of protest in contemporary society, and specifically how it relates the events that unfolded at the Republican National Convention.
Narrator: what was the reaction of the local community and especially of your constituents for Saint Paul being designated the welcoming city of the convention? of the incidents that perspired before the convention and afterwards?
5:20: my district unless it’s happening in their backyards there are less engaged. 5:35-no matter what the issue is, I don't get a deluge of mail…6:00- I never got much response out of the RNC.
Narrator: How does the present circumstances of the RNC reflect on the history of protest that has occurred in St. Paul?
6:45-I support protest, I don’t think there were terrorists, in any shape or form. My time of protest was during the 60s, during the Vietnam war, when they had the audacity to draft middle class kids. You only sent poor kids to war, they are good cannon fire (sarcasm).
7:15 When you start drafting middle class kids, saying your college is done, you’re going to the front line, that’s when you get a lot of angst and anger. That’s what the protests were about. I believe, in this country, it comes down to race and class.
9:45-what is wrong with this country, there needs to be a huge shift in change. In terms of the race-base, it had become more sub-rosa. Racism has more of an undercurrent. How do you describe this undercurrent?
Narrator: Other than protest, do you think of any other means for the public to express there opinions to be effective?
15mins every year when you vote, you express an opinion. Loud and clear, sometimes not real fact based, more emotionally based. We express our opinions as communities, as groups, whenever we vote. For the school board, the city council, the mayor, state rep…
18:15-I think when the cops are there…a protest is so emotion, an emotional experience. Sometimes the emotion is very carrying, and sometimes people do things they shouldn't do in the name of the protest. Bu they are sweep up in the emotional side of things. You’re sweep in the crowd of people, there is almost an anonymity because you’re with this group. I think the cops were horrible. I think that they didn't start out to be horrible. They think what they’re suppose to be doing. Yet again, get caught up in the emotional side of it.
Clear and present danger test: 22:00-that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It might mean violence to you and hitting for her. Might be carrying a bat for me. Everyone’s interpretation is different, so unless they can make that more clear. It would be overly broad…
“Quote from RNC8” 13:55-I believe that police should be in case…what’s the motto…when you call the cops, you don't want them there, you need them there. Thee is a need for cops, but they are there to be a presence. I don't think that they should be disruptive of a protest unless things…someone is shedding blood. Then go in and stop that incident. Isolate and let the protest continue.
Narrator: As a state legislator and community leader, could you reflect on the ongoing legal battle of the RNC8?
19:40-Back in the day, they always had the confidential informants.
20:05- I want to think, I have to think that they were working from the past knowledge base they could. Otherwise, they would not have done what they did. I don't agree with what they did, but I don't have the information they did. Are they big terrorists? In hindsight, 20/20, they had important here that generate strong emotions. Hopefully, they are getting their information from somewhat-reliable sources. It may have been a preemptive arrest. When they see something going on, then make the arrest.
As of April 2010, the terrorism related charges have been dropped by the county. The ethos of terror has been abandoned, and the constitutional questions are now more apparent than ever.
The issues in the RNC 8 case stem from whether or not political speech, speech plus, or allegations of potentially violent political speech and/or conduct warrant the action of law enforcement a priori. Do political officials have the right constitutionally to shut down movements that have yet to show their true colors?
All the answers to this question are rooted in the Court's categorization of the freedom and speech and all its inclusions. The RNC's presented dilema may or may not find its way the Court's docket, but nevertheless offers legitimate food for thought as political protest continues in the 21st century.
From Public Radio Exchange | 30:54
Barack Obama talks about patriotism in Independence, Missouri.
On a spring morning in April of 1775, a simple band of colonists, farmers and merchants, blacksmiths and printers, men and boys, left their homes and families in Lexington and Concord to take up arms against the tyranny of an Empire. The odds against them were long and the risks enormous for even if they survived the battle, any ultimate failure would bring charges of treason, and death by hanging. And yet they took that chance. They did so not on behalf of a particular tribe or lineage, but on behalf of a larger idea. The idea of liberty. The idea of God-given, inalienable rights. And with the first shot of that fateful day, a shot heard round the world, the American Revolution, and America's experiment with democracy, began. Those men of Lexington and Concord were among our first patriots. And at the beginning of a week when we celebrate the birth of our nation, I think it is fitting to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of patriotism, theirs, and ours. We do so in part because we are in the midst of war, more than one and a half million of our finest young men and women have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; over 60,000 have been wounded, and over 4,600 have been laid to rest. The costs of war have been great, and the debate surrounding our mission in Iraq has been fierce. It is natural, in light of such sacrifice by so many, to think more deeply about the commitments that bind us to our nation, and to each other. We reflect on these questions as well because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations; a contest that will determine the course of this nation for years, perhaps decades, to come. Not only is it a debate about big issues, health care, jobs, energy, education, and retirement security, but it is also a debate about values. How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests? How do we ensure that in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity? Finally, it is worth considering the meaning of patriotism because the question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bringing us together. I have come to know this from my own experience on the campaign trail. Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given. It was how I was raised; it is what propelled me into public service; it is why I am running for President. And yet, at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for. So let me say at this at outset of my remarks. I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine. My concerns here aren't simply personal, however. After all, throughout our history, men and women of far greater stature and significance than me have had their patriotism questioned in the midst of momentous debates. Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French. The anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British and intent on restoring monarchal rule. Likewise, even our wisest Presidents have sought to justify questionable policies on the basis of patriotism. Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans, all were defended as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic. In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the Republic. Still, what is striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s in arguments that go back forty years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic. Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day. Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America's traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal. Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America's common spirit. What would such a definition look like? For me, as for most Americans, patriotism starts as a gut instinct, a loyalty and love for country rooted in my earliest memories. I'm not just talking about the recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or the Thanksgiving pageants at school or the fireworks on the Fourth of July, as wonderful as those things may be. Rather, I'm referring to the way the American ideal wove its way throughout the lessons my family taught me as a child. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the astronauts come to shore in Hawaii. I remember the cheers and small flags that people waved, and my grandfather explaining how we Americans could do anything we set our minds to do. That's my idea of America. I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly-line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog-tags from his time in Patton?s Army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That's my idea of America. I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That's my idea of America. As I got older, that gut instinct that America is the greatest country on earth would survive my growing awareness of our nation's imperfections: it's ongoing racial strife; the perversion of our political system laid bare during the Watergate hearings; the wrenching poverty of the Mississippi Delta and the hills of Appalachia. Not only because, in my mind, the joys of American life and culture, its vitality, its variety and its freedom, always outweighed its imperfections, but because I learned that what makes America great has never been its perfection but the belief that it can be made better. I came to understand that our revolution was waged for the sake of that belief that we could be governed by laws, not men; that we could be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we could be free to say what we want and assemble with whomever we want and worship as we please; that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs. For a young man of mixed race, without firm anchor in any particular community, without even a father's steadying hand, it is this essential American idea that we are not constrained by the accident of birth but can make of our lives what we will ? that has defined my life, just as it has defined the life of so many other Americans. That is why, for me, patriotism is always more than just loyalty to a place on a map or a certain kind of people. Instead, it is also loyalty to America's ideals, ideals for which anyone can sacrifice, or defend, or give their last full measure of devotion. I believe it is this loyalty that allows a country teeming with different races and ethnicities, religions and customs, to come together as one. It is the application of these ideals that separate us from Zimbabwe, where the opposition party and their supporters have been silently hunted, tortured or killed; or Burma, where tens of thousands continue to struggle for basic food and shelter in the wake of a monstrous storm because a military junta fears opening up the country to outsiders; or Iraq, where despite the heroic efforts of our military, and the courage of many ordinary Iraqis, even limited cooperation between various factions remains far too elusive. I believe those who attack America's flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America. Of course, precisely because America isn't perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy. As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that's occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism. The young preacher from Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr., who led a movement to help America confront our tragic history of racial injustice and live up to the meaning of our creed he was a patriot. The young soldier who first spoke about the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, he is a patriot. Recognizing a wrong being committed in this country's name; insisting that we deliver on the promise of our Constitution, these are the acts of patriots, men and women who are defending that which is best in America. And we should never forget that, especially when we disagree with them; especially when they make us uncomfortable with their words. Beyond a loyalty to America's ideals, beyond a willingness to dissent on behalf of those ideals, I also believe that patriotism must, if it is to mean anything, involve the willingness to sacrifice, to give up something we value on behalf of a larger cause. For those who have fought under the flag of this nation for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Indeed, one of the good things to emerge from the current conflict in Iraq has been the widespread recognition that whether you support this war or oppose it, the sacrifice of our troops is always worthy of honor. For the rest of us, for those of us not in uniform or without loved ones in the military, the call to sacrifice for the country's greater good remains an imperative of citizenship. Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew. In spite of this absence of leadership from Washington, I have seen a new generation of Americans begin to take up the call. I meet them everywhere I go, young people involved in the project of American renewal; not only those who have signed up to fight for our country in distant lands, but those who are fighting for a better America here at home, by teaching in underserved schools, or caring for the sick in understaffed hospitals, or promoting more sustainable energy policies in their local communities. I believe one of the tasks of the next Administration is to ensure that this movement towards service grows and sustains itself in the years to come. We should expand AmeriCorps and grow the Peace Corps. We should encourage national service by making it part of the requirement for a new college assistance program, even as we strengthen the benefits for those whose sense of duty has already led them to serve in our military. We must remember, though, that true patriotism cannot be forced or legislated with a mere set of government programs. Instead, it must reside in the hearts of our people, and cultivated in the heart of our culture, and nurtured in the hearts of our children. As we begin our fourth century as a nation, it is easy to take the extraordinary nature of America for granted. But it is our responsibility as Americans and as parents to instill that history in our children, both at home and at school. The loss of quality civic education from so many of our classrooms has left too many young Americans without the most basic knowledge of who our forefathers are, or what they did, or the significance of the founding documents that bear their names. Too many children are ignorant of the sheer effort, the risks and sacrifices made by previous generations, to ensure that this country survived war and depression; through the great struggles for civil, and social, and worker's rights. It is up to us, then, to teach them. It is up to us to teach them that even though we have faced great challenges and made our share of mistakes, we have always been able to come together and make this nation stronger, and more prosperous, and more united, and more just. It is up to us to teach them that America has been a force for good in the world, and that other nations and other people have looked to us as the last, best hope of Earth. It is up to us to teach them that it is good to give back to one's community; that it is honorable to serve in the military; that it is vital to participate in our democracy and make our voices heard. And it is up to us to teach our children a lesson that those of us in politics too often forget: that patriotism involves not only defending this country against external threat, but also working constantly to make America a better place for future generations. When we pile up mountains of debt for the next generation to absorb, or put off changes to our energy policies, knowing full well the potential consequences of inaction, we are placing our short-term interests ahead of the nation's long-term well-being. When we fail to educate effectively millions of our children so that they might compete in a global economy, or we fail to invest in the basic scientific research that has driven innovation in this country, we risk leaving behind an America that has fallen in the ranks of the world. Just as patriotism involves each of us making a commitment to this nation that extends beyond our own immediate self-interest, so must that commitment extends beyond our own time here on earth. Our greatest leaders have always understood this. They've defined patriotism with an eye toward posterity. George Washington is rightly revered for his leadership of the Continental Army, but one of his greatest acts of patriotism was his insistence on stepping down after two terms, thereby setting a pattern for those that would follow, reminding future presidents that this is a government of and by and for the people. Abraham Lincoln did not simply win a war or hold the Union together. In his unwillingness to demonize those against whom he fought; in his refusal to succumb to either the hatred or self-righteousness that war can unleash; in his ultimate insistence that in the aftermath of war the nation would no longer remain half slave and half free; and his trust in the better angels of our nature, he displayed the wisdom and courage that sets a standard for patriotism. And it was the most famous son of Independence, Harry S Truman, who sat in the White House during his final days in office and said in his Farewell Address: "When Franklin Roosevelt died, I felt there must be a million men better qualified than I, to take up the Presidential task, but through all of it, through all the years I have worked here in this room, I have been well aware than I did not really work alone, that you were working with me. No President could ever hope to lead our country, or to sustain the burdens of this office, save the people helped with their support." In the end, it may be this quality that best describes patriotism in my mind, not just a love of America in the abstract, but a very particular love for, and faith in, the American people. That is why our heart swells with pride at the sight of our flag; why we shed a tear as the lonely notes of Taps sound. For we know that the greatness of this country, its victories in war, its enormous wealth, its scientific and cultural achievements all result from the energy and imagination of the American people; their toil, drive, struggle, restlessness, humor and quiet heroism. That is the liberty we defend the liberty of each of us to pursue our own dreams. That is the equality we seek, not an equality of results, but the chance of every single one of us to make it if we try. That is the community we strive to build, one in which we trust in this sometimes messy democracy of ours, one in which we continue to insist that there is nothing we cannot do when we put our mind to it, one in which we see ourselves as part of a larger story, our own fates wrapped up in the fates of those who share allegiance to America's happy and singular creed. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
From Voices of Our World | 28:00
WHAT THE VERDICT COULD MEAN IN THE CASE OF HOLDER V. HUMANITARIAN LAW PROJECT, FOR THE "WAR ON TERROR", FREE SPEECH, AND HUMANITARIAN PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD.
Part One: COURTING DISASTER
THE CASE OF HOLDER V. HUMANITARIAN LAW PROJECT –OR HLP- WAS RECENTLY ARGUED BEFORE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, AND AS OUR GUESTS TODAY CAN ATTEST, THE COURT’S RULING MAY AFFECT THOSE WORKING FOR PEACE, EQUALITY, AND JUSTICE - IN THIS COUNTRY AND BEYOND. JOIN US AS WE SPEAK WITH PROFESSORS DAVID COLE OF GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY AND STEPHEN VLADECK OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITY ABOUT THEIR INVOLEMENT IN THE CASE OF HOLDER V. HUMANITARIAN LAW PROJECT, AND WHAT THE VERDICT COULD MEAN FOR THE "WAR ON TERROR", FREE SPEECH, AND HUMANITARIAN PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD.
Part Two: COURTING DISASTER
HOLDER V. HUMANITARIAN LAW PROJECT (HLP) IS THE FIRST EVER CHALLENGE TO THE PATRIOT ACT AT THE SUPREME COURT LEVEL. THE CASE ADDRESSES THE VAGUE DEFINITION OF "PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT" TO LISTED "TERRORIST" ORGANIZATIONS BY THE US GOVERNMENT. IRONICALLY, THE CLEAR VAGUENESS OF THE TERMS "MATERIAL SUPPORT", OR "TERRORIST" FOR THAT MATTER, IN ADDITION TO POTENTIALLY CURTAILING OUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AT HOME, MAY ALSO PREVENT AMERICANS FROM GETTING INVOLVED WITH PEACE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENTS ABROAD - EXACTLY AT A TIME WHEN WE NEED AS MANY ALLIES AS POSSIBLE TO HELP COMBAT TERROR.
From Mark Urycki | 59:03
Award-winning documentary marking the 40th anniversary of on the shootings at Kent State University in May 1970. It's been called the day the Viet Nam War came home and a turning point in the nation's history. The story is told without narrator but by eyewitnesses and uses audio recorded over a four day period in 1970.
Remembering Kent State 1970 marks the 40th anniversary of May 4, 1970 when Ohio National Guardsmen shot 13 students at Kent State University after an anti-war rally. Four students were killed and 9 were wounded. A federal investigation called the shootings “inexcusable” but no Guardsmen were ever convicted of a crime. The event has been called “America’s Tiananmen Square Massacre.”