If we live in the land of the free and all that twaddle, then why do our cops treat protesters as if they’re terrorists rather than fellow citizens? Inquiring minds, including a prominent United Nations official, want to know:
Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.
“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights…”
… La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it’s clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces “as long as that doesn’t severely affect the rights of others…”
“…One of the principles is proportionality,” La Rue said. “The use of police force is legitimate to maintain public order — but there has to be a danger of real harm, a clear and present danger. And second, there has to be a proportionality of the force employed to prevent a real danger.”
And history suggests that harsh tactics against social movements don’t work anyway, he said. In Occupy’s case, he said, “disbanding them by force won’t change that attitude of indignation.”
It’s a sad day when a foreign national working in New York City has to state the obvious not only to the U.S. government, which has become more and more repressive since 9/11, but to the majority of U.S. citizens who walk around in a fog, assuming police misconduct toward protesters isn’t the same as misconduct against all of us.