The ways in which First Amendment expression is morphing into “disorderly conduct”

| November 20, 2011 | 7 Replies

In his article published at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal urges us to refrain from villainizing police officer John Pike and, instead, consider that his actions an illustration of change in the systematic police plan for responding to protest movements.

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Category: Law Enforcement Abuses, Protests and Actions

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Many of these municpal ordinances are unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Generally, the vagueness doctrine applies when,especially in the area of 1st Amendment speech, it is left up to cops, prosecutors judges and juries to decide what specific conduct is prohibited by the city’s enactment. I think it’s time the ACLU or affiliated attorneys went on the attack and challenged these ordinances in the various cities where there are #Occupy movements. Perhaps getting dunned $100K or more in attorney’s fees will have these clowns back off.

    I’ve done research om these issues in the past for the City of St. Louis ordinances for peace distrubance, disorderly conduct, street demonstration and peace disturbance. Usually when they get hit with a Bill of Particulars, Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum in Support, the stupidity stops.

    If somebody needs these, I’ll dig them up.

  2. Tim Hogan says:

    Sorry, bad spelling and forgot to mention “Failure to Obey the Reasonable Request of a Police Officer.” We used that one when they charged the Rev. Al Sharpton.

  3. Edgar Montrose says:

    “… Alexis Madrigal urges us to refrain from villainizing police officer John Pike …”

    Law Enforcement puts officers into extremely difficult situations at times. Some of those times they are forced to act in very distasteful ways. Under those circumstances, officers have my utmost sympathy and respect.

    Officer Pike brandished his weapon to the crowd, like a magician about to plunge a sword into a box as part of his stage act. Then he sprayed the protestors with a swagger and a smile, like I might spray Raid on an ant hill.

    It looked to me like he enjoyed it just a little too much.

  4. Mike M. says:

    No excuses – this type of linguistic absolution is a slippery slope that requires immediate rejection. Here’s why:

    “Law Enforcement (substitute the words ‘ The Nazi Party’ here) puts (insert ‘SS’ here) officers into extremely difficult situations at times. Some of those times they are forced to act in very distasteful ways. Under those circumstances, (insert ‘SS’ again here) officers have my utmost sympathy and respect.”

    How does that read now?

    The police officers in this UC matter are human beings, not automatons, and thus are required to act humanely. If they are ordered to do something “very distasteful”, they simply must find the courage and wisdom to NOT DO IT, whatever the consequences. Otherwise they have failed the test of humanity by accepting to act as mindless tools. We must learn from recent history, and evolve beyond it into something greater. It’s our highest duty to ourselves and to others.

    • Edgar Montrose says:

      Perhaps my intended meaning was not so apparent through my outrage at the incident. The “very distasteful” actions to which I referred include, for example, cleaning up after horrific automobile accidents, dealing with drunk or drugged abusers, fishing bodies out of the river, etc. In those cases, police officers have my utmost sympathy and respect.

      Spray-painting passive, non-violent protestors with pepper spray and then trying to justify it by stating that officers felt “threatened” … no sympathy, no respect.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Here is a collection of the ways in which police are inflicting violence upon Occupy protesters. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/too-much-violence-and-pepper-spray-at-the-ows-protests/248761/

  6. Mike M. says:

    Edgar: Your meaning is crystal clear to me now, and I’m with you 100%. Sorry that I read into your 1st post an angle that you didn’t intend. Leaping to premature certitude, especially regarding someone else’s intended meaning, is a pitfall to be wary of and never very wise.

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