Thursday, May 17, 2012

1968 All Over Again? I Hope Not

All of us in Chicago have been forewarned. We’ve been told on the local news and in the newspapers of the police plans to contain the demonstrations. We’ve been told of the security measures being taken by Metra [commuter trains] and about all the places in Chicago that will be closed on May 19th and 20th. We’ve been told that the Chicago police will contain the march so that violence isn’t allowed and freedom of speech is preserved. It sounds like it’s all supposed to scare us into staying home and thus far, my bet is that this goal will be achieved.

People from across America have been arriving. Maybe they weren’t told of the police plans or maybe they don’t remember the 1968 Democratic Convention that vividly. Either way, various groups have announced plans to march, among them the Nurses’ Association who will hold a march on March 18th.  Meanwhile, I, who am on the e-mail lists of almost every progressive group, have received no e-mails at all informing me of the marches or asking me to participate. Nothing from Nothing from the Occupy groups. Nothing from the pro-immigration groups. Nothing. The silence is deafening. Is there a glitch in my e-mail or something more? Either way, I don’t like the sound of it.

Yes, I was against the War in Iraq before it started and still think that America should make a total exit as soon as possible. Yes, I was against the War in Afghanistan, also. The war was launched against Al Quaeda which is not part of any specific country. I still feel that this amorphous body could be more effectively combated by covert actions to foil terrorist plots against Americans rather than by wars that destroy the Middle East one country at a time. The purpose of NATO has been to provide for a common defense so that we are all safe. Will people be protesting these wars in which NATO has been participating or will this bring out people protesting a plethora of injustices? 

Yet, that is not what is worrying me now. What is worrying me is that all these efforts to contain the demonstrators feels like an assault on our right to free speech. Has the Patriot Act totally negated it? How many rights are we willing to give up for total security? Will the Chicago Police act calmly or will we see a repeat of 1968? Do we still have the right to speak freely? Will the helicopters be hovering overhead taking pictures of all the demonstrators as they did during the War in Vietnam? Will there be agents provacateurs fomenting violence?

In another few days, we will know the answers to these questions. I’m anxious to find out the answers.


Susan said...

I'm interested to see what happens as well. I live just outside of Charlotte, NC. It's exciting that the Convention will be here this year, but I'm also wondering about security measures. Take care!

alenaslife said...

I am a passionate supporter of citizens rights to protest. However, as a resident, I understand law enforcement's duty to protect property and safety. It's a fine balance which has never been met to perfection. And, it's a sad fact, that the helicopters and secret servicce are not nearly as concerned with citizen protest as they are with the terrorist-rich target NATO has created.
I am hopeful that they have gone too far in their preparations and the next few days will be "incident-free."