I don’t usually republish others writing wholecloth, but since I wasn’t in Pittsburgh for the G20, I am dependent on those who were. David Rovics is a journalist and singer/songwriter who was there and he wrote up his experience running from the cops with Cindy Sheehan, hiding out with no less than Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. I couldn’t have done better had I been there myself. Remember, be sure to check out the horrifying footage of police brutality on American streets. Now, David Rovics’ The Police Are Rioting – Reflections From Pittsburgh:
If any elements of the corporate media have been paying any attention to what’s been happening on the streets of Pittsburgh over the past few days I haven’t noticed, so I thought I’d write my own account.
There is a popular assumption asserted ad nauseum by our leaders in government, by our school text books and by our “mainstream” media that although many other countries don’t have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly – such as Iran or China – we do, and it’s what makes us so great. Anybody who has spent much time trying to exercise their First Amendment rights in the US now or at any other time since 1776 knows first-hand that the First Amendment looks good on paper but has little to do with reality.
Dissent has never really been tolerated in the USA. As we’ve seen in recent election cycles even just voting for a Democratic presidential candidate and having your vote count can be quite a challenge – as anyone who has not had their head in sand knows, Bush lost both elections and yet kept his office fraudulently twice. But for those who want to exercise their rights beyond the government-approved methods – that is, their right to vote for one of two parties, their right to bribe politicians (“lobby”) if they have enough money, or their right to write a letter to the editor in the local Murdoch-owned rag, if it hasn’t closed shop yet – the situation is far worse.
Let’s go back in history for a minute. After the victory of the colonies over Britain in the Revolutionary War, the much-heralded US Constitution included no rights for citizens other than the rights of the landed gentry to run the show. This changed as a direct result of a years-long rebellion of the citizens of western Massachusetts that came to be known as Shays’ Rebellion. Shays’ Rebellion scared the pants off the powers-that-be and they did what the powers-that-be do and have always done all over the world – passed some reforms in order to avert a situation where the rich would lose more than just western Massachusetts. They passed the Bill of Rights.
Fast forward more than a century. Ostensibly this great democracy had had the Bill of Rights enshrined in law for quite a long time now. Yet in 1914 a supporter of labor unionism could not make a soapbox speech on a sidewalk in this country without being beaten and arrested by police for the crime of disturbing the peace, blocking the sidewalk or whatever other nonsense the cops made up at the time.
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