Sunday, August 13, 2017

C'Ville questions

I started writing this in my head Friday night before the events Saturday and certainly before the death and injuries from the terrorist attack on the counterprotesters, but the questions are still valid, even if they've been over-shadowed by the need for us to figure out how the hell we're going to move forward as a country.

Most Southern municipalities had (and I am guessing still have) statutes on the books restricting what can be brought to a protest or march.  These go back to the Civil Rights and then the anti-Vietnam War protests of the '60s and were certainly still around when I was active in the Animal Rights movement in the late 80s/early 90s.

There were tight restrictions on the size and length and material used to create protest signs (basically nothing much wider or thicker than a tongue depressor was allowed) to prevent signs from being used as weapons.  There were all kinds of restrictions on where one could stand, no masks or hoods allowed, and more that I can't immediately recall.  New restrictions in Durham have been put into place restricting protests to daylight hours.

Hell, even the Chapel Hill Hallowe'en celebration restricts anything that looks like or could be used as a weapon.

At the Presidential Conventions every year, protesters are separated into "Free Speech" areas usually blocks away from the convention centers and usually blocks away from each other.  I'm not saying I think that's the right thing to do, but it is apparently possible to do so without running afoul of the First Amendment.

It is certainly possible that Charlottesville doesn't have similar rules in place (although I know that everywhere I've lived in the Southeast, from Nashville to suburban Atlanta to Charlotte to RTP does, or at least did).  

So how do you get a situation where you have a mob of people with lit torches, baseball bats, and long guns marching at night and large numbers of cops, state troopers and National Guardsmen standing around with their thumbs up their butts?  What the hell were they there for?  And why did it take hours of clashes on Saturday morning before the decision was made to put a stop to it?

I'm asking honestly as there may be some good explanations but I'd like to hear them.