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Hullabaloo


Saturday, June 24, 2017

 
Is this America?


by digby




Sadly, yes. The inauguration protests were met with major excessive force by the DC police. All of that's being litigated right now, with some protesters, including at least one journalist, charged with felonies and facing serious jail time.

But this is something else:

But the experiences of the lawsuit’s four plaintiffs — independent photojournalist Shay Horse, volunteer legal observer Judah Ariel, and peaceful protesters Elizabeth Lagesse and Milo Gonzalez — suggest that MPD sought physical and emotional retribution on the hundreds of people kettled, the ACLU alleges.

An officer ordered Horse, fellow plaintiff Milo Gonzalez, and three others to take their pants off before grabbing their testicles and then inserting a finger into their anuses while “other officers laughed,” the complaint alleges. Horse is a photojournalist, one of six reporters initially arrested and charged whose cases have been dismissed.

“It felt like they were trying to…break us so that even if the charges didn’t stick, that night would be our punishment.”

“I felt like they were using molestation and rape as punishment. They used those tactics to inflict pain and misery on people who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,” Horse said. “It felt like they were trying to break me and the others — break us so that even if the charges didn’t stick, that night would be our punishment.”

In a statement responding to the lawsuit on Wednesday, the MPD defended its reputation and maintained that all its arrests were proper.

“Each year, the men and women of MPD protect the rights and ensure the safety of thousands of First Amendment assemblies, demonstrations and protests,” the department said. While thousands demonstrated peaceably on Inauguration Day, the statement went on, “there was another group of individuals who chose to engage in criminal acts, destroying property and hurling projectiles, injuring at least six officers. These individuals were ultimately arrested for their criminal actions.”

The department also pledged that “all…allegations of misconduct will be fully investigated.” Michelman said the ACLU welcomes that promise but doesn’t exactly trust it.

“We have significant concerns that that won’t be sufficient, in light of repeat problems MPD has had with arresting law-abiding demonstrators and responding…with excessive force,” Michelman said.

This isn't the first time that the MPD has overreacted to scattered violence and rounded up peaceful protesters, subjecting them to extremely harsh treatment:

By dint of geography, MPD responds to far more mass demonstrations than any other police department. Marchers without permits regularly take over streets, sit in at organizational buildings, and even chain themselves to physical structures in protest without prompting the sort of crackdown that followed the Antifa provocations on Inauguration Day.

But MPD’s reputation for high standards on protester civil liberties coexists with a less-prominent and darker track record in cases like this one, Michelman said.

“When there are groups of people who protest only peacefully, demonstrations that go off without a hitch, MPD does tend to handle those pretty well. They tend to be prepared and respectful, and we commend them for that,” he said. “The problem is when there’s a little bit of lawbreaking at a mostly peaceful demonstration, the response from MPD is massive, it’s excessive, it’s unjustified, and it’s unconstitutional. That’s what we saw on January 20.” 
The indiscriminate targeting of reporters, legal observers, and peaceful protesters along with those who had broken windows and assaulted officers is not a one-off, he said. MPD reacted similarly to a World Bank protest in 2002 that went sideways. The city later paid $8.25 million to settle civil rights cases brought by nearly 400 protesters. That case, known among local lawyers as Pershing Park, was not the first multi-million-dollar payout by the District over an episode that broke from MPD’s broader pattern of high-road protest management.

You have to wonder if that isn't their instruction. If one person or group smashes a window, bring the hammer down on everyone in the vicinity no matter who and make sure they feel your authority as harshly as possible. Guilt by association.Of course the peaceful protesters have no way of knowing advance that there will be violence or have any capacity to stop it. But they must pay too.

The rape stuff seems like a natural evolution of such a policy. Remember Abu Ghraib and the "enema punishment" at Bagram and Guantanamo? Once they take the gloves off someone's fingers always seem to find their way into a prisoner's anus.

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