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Stifling dissent
(Published September 10, 2001)

Elected officials — in the White House, Congress and the mayor’s office — need to explain to the public why it makes sense to spend $30 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in the nation’s capital while the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund hold two days of meetings here later this month.

The planned, draconian "security precautions" to keep protesters away from the meeting participants — one D.C. police commander referred to preparations for "combat" during a recent meeting with newspaper distributors — have reached the point at which they are likely to incite a violent response from residents of what is supposed to be a free society.

Many of our readers remember the "police riot" incited during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The District’s two top cops — Police Chief Charles Ramsey and Executive Assistant Chief Terry Gainer — remember it well because they were there as part of the riot gear-equipped Chicago police force that was later soundly condemned for its overreaction to American citizens trying to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest the Vietnam war.

Plans to "protect" D.C. businesses and residents from feared violence and business losses are likely to, instead, cost business owners and their employees millions of dollars in lost sales and lost wages that will never be recouped. Especially hard hit will be the city’s small business owners and hourly wage earners, many of whom are heavily dependent on day-to-day income to meet their expenses.

Officials who earn six-figure salaries apparently are so out-of-touch with the public that they no longer realize, or perhaps don’t care, when their actions inflict harm on the "common man." Their "precautions" appear to be helping the protesters make their point.

 

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator