There's no right to violence
To the Editor:
In its Monday, September 30th editorial "MPD arrests limit freedom," the GW Hatchet erred when it claimed that the rights of last weekend’s anti-capitalist demonstrators were violated. The protection of the First Amendment does not extend to those who violate the rights of others.
Had the anti-capitalist demonstrators wanted to avoid mass arrests, they could have filed the proper permits with the police for the use of public land and conducted their affairs so as not to threaten the public safety. Instead, the anti-capitalist demonstrators attempted to seize the streets of Washington in order to commit acts of violence and disorder. Their actions included halting traffic, throwing smoke bombs and the vandalism of local businesses and private property. Such conduct is not an expression of freedom; it is its antithesis.
Yet despite the reckless and wanton conduct of the anti-capitalist demonstrators, the editors of the Hatchet blame the police for the arrests. And in a signed column, Hatchet editor Kate Stepan blames the police when Hatchet reporters were detained longer than their counterparts in the professional media because they failed to have the proper press permits to cross police lines. Her excuse: her staff’s press permits have been applied for, but not yet received. By her standard, any student journalist should be afforded the same treatment as the professional media, even in situations that threatens the public safety, just by the mere fact that they announce they are a student journalist.
The Hatchet should learn how to conduct its own affairs professionally and it should have condemned the fact that for all their lawlessness, the anti-capitalist demonstrators arrested by the police suffered no more than a day’s inconvenience and a trivial fine—approximately the same sanction as is levied for illegal parking.
Hundreds of groups each year hold peaceful demonstrations in Washington to communicate their positions and I myself have organized several successful rallies without incident. The anti-capitalist demonstrations are a different thing all together. That the anti-capitalist demonstrators suffer from thoughtlessness and a want of reflection is well known. That they have contempt for the rights and safety of others is also well known. That the Hatchet’s editors have joined with them in their illogic is tragic.
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