U.S. Park Police are being unfairly maligned through the manipulation of protesters utilizing classic Saul Alinsky tactics.
I was unaware of the protests staged earlier by members of Code Pink and various other assorted liberal groups as I visited the Jefferson Memorial on Saturday May 29, 2011. I wanted to soak in the aura of a memorial dedicated to one of my favorite Founding Fathers, and I did just that. I spoke to a couple of Park Police officers standing in the rotunda, and they mentioned something about a protest that had happened earlier. We talked for some time and I was asked by a group of Australians to take their picture with the officers. These officers were friendly and listened as I bent their ears.
I read the next day on Fox News the story detailing the protest I happened to miss on Saturday and watched the accompanying video in which the two Park Police officers I spoke with appeared as they assisted in the arrest of protesters performing illegal acts. The story highlighted efforts to investigate the Park Police for using excessive force to arrest the protesters. The description of officers bent on abusing citizens’ rights was totally inconsistent with the demeanor of the officers I met. They were friendly, helpful, and engaged with various tourists who asked questions.
As I watched the video of the arrests, I was struck by the fact that the protesters were resisting arrest but no mention of this was made in the story. While they were not fighting with the arresting officers, they were clearly practicing passive resistance by refusing to cooperate with the arresting officers. These passive tactics appear non-threatening on camera and force the arresting officers to appear overly aggressive in the performance of their jobs as they struggle to subdue the protesters. The result is that the protesters can point to video which makes them appear to be manhandled by police while their passive resistance is easily overlooked by viewers not familiar with the techniques.
One protester is caught on camera with his hands held out in a what-did-I-do gesture being held from behind by an officer before being forced to the ground by the officer. The standard arrest procedure dictates that the suspect is asked to assume a position on the ground so the officer can handcuff him safely. This protester refused and was forced to the ground so his arrest could proceed.
Lost amid the arrests in the video of this story is the fact mentioned at the beginning that these protesters were violating the law and were arrested after they were repeatedly warned to cease their unlawful conduct. They were given every opportunity to stop before being arrested. They chose to make a point and engaged in passive resistance to heighten the effect of their protest. One protester even claimed that Jefferson would applaud their efforts on behalf of freedom. I suspect that she seriously underestimates Thomas Jefferson’s ability to tolerate unlawful behavior that disrupts the peace. Their behavior would not have been tolerated in that simpler time.
Many hard-working Americans visit Washington, D.C. to see the monuments and enjoy the unique experience of visiting our nation’s capital with their families. They don’t want their children exposed to protesters being arrested for making an obscure point they care nothing about. The protesters obviously care nothing about the rights of these families to peacefully enjoy these monuments to our country’s founding history. They prefer to show out and exercise what they see as their exclusive right to be heard above all others.
There used to exist the idea of respect for others to enjoy public places, but protesters such as these are really intent on destroying this idea and are merely using the ban on dancing as their vehicle. In classic Saul Alinsky tradition, they seek to tear down the established order, but they never get around to thinking about what they want to replace this established order. Do they wish to have chaos reign over us to everyone’s detriment? They don’t have a clue and never plan any further than the next insipid protest.
Instead of condemning the Park Police, I applaud their efforts to insure that I had a peaceful and orderly experience as I visited the Jefferson Memorial. I was able to reflect on the life and achievements of one of my favorite historical figures without the distraction of a bunch of clueless protesters violating the law and disturbing the peace. While there are certainly things worthy of protest – excessive government spending and regulation come to mind – this issue was not one of them and the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial was not the venue.