Friday, January 9, 2009

Oakland's Violent Protesters Need To Be Prosecuted

Just one question regarding the hijacking by violent demonstrators this week (Jan 2009) of the protest march in Oakland against the shooting of an innocent man by BART police: Will our outrage at this misbehavior be enough to actually result in prosecuting the hundred outlaws arrested?

If things go as the usually do in, say, San Francisco or Berkeley, in a few days the Oakland authorities will just drop the charges against most of the arrested and let them go. A handful will get a weekend or two in jail. None will be treated as if what they did is really an outrage. 

What message does *that* send? In San Francisco, it's "We're the violent-protest-friendly City!" This is not a message Oakland needs. Or any city, obviously.

Protesters know that in California, you can inconvenience and disrupt the community without consequence (except when police act out); authorities bluster their outrage, but prosecutors and judges open the jail doors en masse. The apparent excuse is that if the thing they are protesting is deplorable enough, they can take the law into their own hands, by their own authority, and destroy the property of innocent people -- as if this is some kind of appropriate tit-for-tat.

In Oakland, the protest organizers expressed outrage that their peaceful march was used as an excuse for violence. The only right thing to do is to treat this seriously--justice for the innocent victims, and justice for the protest organizers. 

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