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Ferguson, Front Line of Anti-Constitution & Class Warfare

Ferguson, Missouri has been turned into a war zone.

The police use inappropriate force, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, to overwhelm and intimidate residents who are legitimately protesting a police murder of a fellow, unarmed resident.

There is also a “keep moving” rule constantly imposed on residents and journalists on the sidewalks of Ferguson. It is not a real law but nevertheless was and still is constantly spouted by the police. This “rule” is anti the First Amendment and now being challenged by the ACLU.

According to Tom Carter in “Federal judge refuses to halt ‘keep moving’ order in Ferguson” a Federal judge refused to halt the “keep moving” order in Ferguson allowing groups of police to continue to patrol the sidewalks with the intention of menacing and intimidating protesters and journalists by constantly bellowing “keep moving”. If a person doesn’t move quickly enough (within five seconds) he or she will be tackled and arrested by the police.

Hundreds of arrests have happened this way. The “arrestees” all have been charged with “failure to disperse”.

Carter writes:

The ACLU argued that the police tactic “restricts First Amendment activity.” The First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights (adopted in 1791), guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government to redress grievances. Arbitrary police rules that lead to harassment, detention, or arrest of demonstrators and journalists exercising their First Amendment rights clearly violate the US Constitution.

Nevertheless, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster defended the “keep moving” rule and opposed the ACLU petition, arguing that the police tactics were “designed to protect public safety.” As justification for the tactic, he cited alleged “gunfire and violence” in the areas where the protests were taking place.

snip

The principal perpetrators of “gunfire and violence” in Ferguson have not been the protesters, but the police, who shot and killed an unarmed teenager and have carried out mass repression against protesters seeking to exercise their constitutional rights.

The ACLU has filed a number of lawsuits according to Carter. Another lawsuit alleges that the authorities unlawfully withheld the name of the officer who shot Brown as well as details of the shooting. This is in violation of Missouri statutes to promote transparency and accountability.

Another lawsuit challenges police for ordering journalists and others to turn off their cameras and stop recording. Although this issue is said to have been negotiated and resolved according to the media, police continue illegally to threaten and arrest journalists according to Carter.

Carter declares that this flaunting disregard of first amendment constitutional rights is only the tip of the iceberg of an expanding and brutal-whenever-tested US police state infrastructure. An anti-democracy police state hyper-preparedness is now in place to combat any possible citizen blowback against both the savagery of America’s foreign imperialism and of its domestic “austerity” policies.

The political class constantly and more and more clearly serves the corporatist ruling class elite. It is willing to defy the US Constitution by willfully exercising wrongful methods of mass intimidation, mass surveillance, even torture and assassination, to protect and expand a corrupt capitalist system.

Andre Damon reports in “Attorney General Holder backs police-military siege in visit to Ferguson, Missouri” about US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Wednesday visit to Ferguson. Damon declares that Holder’s visit was to extend the Obama administration’s full support for the “police crackdown”. Sadly the administration, the Justice Department, Democratic Party leaders and their media spokespeople are scurrying to defuse the legitimate anger of the people of the working class suburb of Ferguson over a police killing and to reframe the narrative using the media.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning police, carrying assault weapons and backed up with military vehicles and National Guard troops, arrested 47 people.

Holder, Obama and Dem leaders, explains Damon, want to focus on and blame the “criminal element” and “outside agitators” among the protesters for the crisis in Ferguson. They want to deflect serious attention from the inappropriate and disproportionate force used by the police against “the people.”

Damon writes:

.... this]is “belied by an Internet posting showing a police officer pointing an assault rifle at journalists’ faces and threatening to kill them.”

The video shows the officer screaming “I will f***ing kill you... Get back! Get back!” at a group of reporters. When asked to identify himself, he tells the journalists to “go f*** yourself.” The St. Louis County Police Department said in a statement that the officer was subsequently disciplined.

Also on Wednesday, cell phone footage of Tuesday’s police shooting of Kajieme Powell in nearby North St. Louis was posted, contradicting police claims that the victim had a knife raised in an “overhand” position when he was shot. The video shows that officers continued shooting Powell as he lay motionless on the ground.

Residents had told the World Socialist Web Site that Powell was mentally handicapped and that his mother had died shortly before he was killed by the police.

Holder told the press Wednesday that he hoped his trip would have a “calming effect” on residents outraged by officer Darren Wilson’s shooting the unarmed Wilson six times and killing him.

snip

Turning reality on its head, he implied that people angered by the police murder of Brown were the aggressors in Ferguson, rather than the police. He wrote: “In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority—and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson—they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice.”

While in Ferguson, Holder met with community college students and sought to cast himself as being sympathetic to residents’ concerns on the basis of his race. “I am also a black man,” he declared.

Holder met separately with local FBI officials and posed for a photo op with Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who is supervising the crackdown.

Damon expresses outrage with the failure of authorities to arrest Officer Wilson:

Meanwhile, Officer Wilson, who fired multiple rounds into Brown at close range, including two shots to his head, remains at large. He is on paid administrative leave from the police department. He has not been arrested and no charges have been laid against him.

Holder offered no criticism of the failure of local or state authorities to arrest the killer cop.

Holder only gives lip service to the First Amendment right of free assembly. But why should we be surprised. Damon reminds us that Holder defended Obama’s drone missile assassinations of American citizens, claiming that the president could unilaterally decide with military and intelligence advisers to murder citizens and still uphold constitutionality.

Joseph Kishore in" Class, race and the police killing in Ferguson, Missouri" points out that political and media operatives are deliberately reframing the problems in Ferguson away from economic and social inequality and toward “identity politics” -- toward racism.

Ferguson is made up of mostly African Americans. Kishore takes issue with “political hucksters”, as he calls them, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who arrived in Ferguson last weekend to ”preach unity” and, in particular, praise the new African American head of security operations, Ron Johnson. Kishore explains that some of the protesting residents recognize that Sharpton and Jackson are “corrupt multimillionaire operatives” who are “exploiting the death of Brown for their own ends, entirely bound up with the defense of the existing economic and political set-up.”

Kishore sees media spokespeople, for example from CNN, over-focusing on “race” in Ferguson. Kishore praises a recent Time article by former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who declared that the issues in Ferguson are due less to systemic racism and more to class warfare. Apparently Jabbar’s article is now hanging fire from the political and media classes, who want US citizens to let “identity politics” eclipse economic inequality.

Kishore affirms that race is a factor in American life, and should be factored in when assessing police repression in Ferguson and elsewhere in America. But it is secondary to economic class issues.

... political agents of the Democratic Party, see the discrediting of identity politics as a mortal threat. They speak for privileged sections of the middle class—trade union functionaries, academics, sections of the corporate establishment—with a vested interest in maintaining the subordination of workers to the ruling class and its political apparatus. ... dividing the working class and preventing a united political struggle against capitalism.

Just as the city lockdown after the Boston bombing revealed evidence of the US as a police state, so do these events in Ferguson.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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