01.31.2012 0

Bye bye, Occupy?

Occupy Wall Street ProtestorsBy Rebecca DiFede — U.S. Park Police entered the Occupy D.C. camp on Monday to enforce a deadline that had warned all occupiers to leave the camp by noon, or else face jail time. In true stupidly-laced Occupier fashion, the protesters responded by constructing signs and shields to prevent the police from entering. Many people came from their jobs and homes in D.C. to join in to defend what they said was their right to free speech.

According to an article in U.S.A. Today, the edict is not an eviction notice, but rather an enforcement of a rule that prohibits the protesters to live and sleep in McPherson Square. If they have tents, those tents must be kept open at all times, and no other camping equipment may be kept there.

The frenzied attitude around McPherson was partially due to the events that took place at Occupy Oakland over the weekend. Protesters threw bottles and rocks at police, who responded with tear gas. Then, some overachieving protesters broke into and vandalized city hall, leaving broken glass, graffiti and a burnt American flag in their wake.

Now for the past few months, Occupiers all over the country have maintained that they are a peaceful group who only seeks equality. And for a while, they held that up. But now things have gotten completely out of hand, and Occupiers went from “peaceful protest” to “assaulting an officer”. And it wasn’t the first time.

Back in November, members of Occupy Oakland vandalized two banks and a grocery store, breaking windows and spray painting graffiti on the walls.  Police retaliated and sympathizers all over the country were furious. They insisted that attacking non-living targets wasn’t hurting anyone, but rather just making a statement.

I don’t really care what “statement” you think you’re making, but vandalism is against the law. If you want to stand in the street with signs, yell slogans and pass out flyers? Go for it. Heck, stay there all day and night if you want. That’s your right.

What isn’t your right — using the Constitution as the sole reference for what constitutes what is protected — is to destroy property that does not belong to you. That is not part of a peaceful protest and in fact it stands to reason that doing so proves that you are not peaceful at all.

And what is even more shocking is that even after all of this, the members of the group are continuing to claim that they are acting in support of peace and that they are only exercising their right to protest and express their opinions. Apparently blissfully unaware that the First Amendment doesn’t give you carte blanche to do anything you want in its name.

And so as U.S. Park Police set in on Occupy D.C., I hope that they continue to remind those stationed there that if they want to be taken seriously in the eyes of the law, then they must follow existing laws.

Perhaps after being forced out of their smelly, unwashed tents and finally arriving at a place with a shower, some of the filth will come off and reality will begin to seep in.

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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