Three Days as a ‘Political Prisoner’ in NYC

James Gaites has an excellent first-person account of his recent experience of very civil disobedience during the Republican Convention. Death and Life in New York: Three Days in the City for an RNC Protester.

There is surely grist for the mill here for everyone. The police arrested many people whithout cause, including bystanders. They also penned up protestors and then arrested them for failing to disperse, having made it impossible.

Once arrested, it's obvious that at the very least NYC did not make much effort to process protestors either as quickly as the law required or as quickly as they could have, indeed managed (intentionally?) to put them on ice for the entire convention. And the outdoor pen in which people were held may have had biohazards that people were forced to sleep on. Sanitation was rough.

On the other hand, there were no systematic beatings, some food was provided eventually, and even people who were clearly guilty of parading without a permit were released without fines. No one disappeared, and now they are free to write about it and to litigate.

How do we score this? To call it a 'win' for civil liberties is to set the bar far too low. Yet, is the term 'political prisoner' really apt? If so, it's the mildest confinement regime for a 'political' I ever read about.

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3 Responses to Three Days as a ‘Political Prisoner’ in NYC

  1. Chris says:

    The treatment of dissenters is unquestionably mild compared to elsewhere, but government power in the hands of a cabal of unscrupulous people–whether Republican or Democrat–is a frightening thing nonetheless. Power is too addictive, and history is too full of examples of those willing to do anything to keep it; if we allow our leaders an inch with our liberties, they will eventually take a mile. We should not dismiss abuse of government authority regarding our civil liberties simply because its magnitude does not compare with somewhere like Iran or Russia. Someday it might, but by then it will be too late.

  2. Noright says:

    Yet, is the term ‘political prisoner’ really apt? If so, it’s the mildest confinement regime for a ‘political’ I ever read about.

    It seems to me the issue is not the quality of the confinement but the fact that pure political speech was quashed without reason, and done so effectively for the duration of the convention. The fact that even those parading without a permit were not fined or subject to further process puts the lie to the claim that these imprisonments were legitimate law enforcement activities, and not an illegitimate exercise of authority to silence political dissent. There’s no win here.

  3. Mojo says:

    Chris explained the issue well. Now I’ll explain it in terms even a freeper could understand. If you buy a new Cadillac and it doesn’t run right, would you accept the salesman telling you that there’s nothing wrong with it because it still runs better than a broken-down 1974 Ford Pinto? The standard for political freedom in the United States is the Constitution, not China.

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