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Colorado Springs issues permit to sleep on sidewalk but without tents. Let Them Eat Concrete

COLO. SPRINGS- I’m not crazy about OCCUPY organizers negotiating with city representatives for a tentative permit to occupy Acacia Park. You don’t need permits for free speech, nor does activism gain by the advice of cops. That said, allowing a protest encampment, even without tents, may grow participation more effectively than outrage over oppressive responses to civil disobedience. So what’s come of this strategy today is the same permission that has been granted to the Wall Street activists in Zuccotti Plaza, sleeping bags but no tents. Doesn’t that seem shamelessly punitive? Shelter is a human right, deprivation of which is a violation of the 14th Amendment. It’s likely the city could be held liable for endangering the health and lives of these activists.

So permits or not? No American citizen needs permission to express himself, and whatever means you have to conspire to shut down Wall Street are not going to be allowed. So should an occupation seek a permit? The physics of military occupation are Might Makes Right, not Simon Says. But military intelligence and diplomats play invaluable roles. Might makes right, but guile and craft save the occupiers manpower and lives. Maybe permits create the beachhead with which the American people get their size 99 shoe in the door.

Holding regular meetups with the police is another dilemma. I know I’m not shrewd enough to go head to head with a police department, its vast intelligence resources, and well practiced dissent-quashing strategies. For me a most significant element of the public demonstration is law enforcement’s incapability of predicting unregulated behavior.

The 14th Amendment forbids the state to “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” So we might well pause to consider another news story which emerged today, that the US citizen assassinated by CIA drones in Yemen, wasn’t riding in a convoy as previously claimed, but at a dinner party with a 16-year-old relative and his friends, all of them killed without trial or even legal charges. At its simplest the 14th Amendment says you can’t punish someone before properly found guilty. Forcing inhumane conditions upon a citizen exercising his rights is punitive, cruel and unusual.

In Denver today a similar delegation met with the mayor, who give his permission for protests to continue, as it was his to give, for his subjects to exercise their 1st Amendment Rights, but abridged to exclude at night, in the cold, or in city park. Specifically the Denver mayor said he’d allow them to sleep on sidewalks provided they’re exposed to the elements. No tents. Let them eat concrete.

The Colorado Springs city attorney gave instruction to formalize the handicap with a permit. They can sleep on sidewalks but no shelter allowed. Want a cold or flu? Have at it.

A provocative thought, however sad: will today’s protesters submitting their bodies to rain, cold and snow, submitting their health and spirits to debilitating hardship, streamed live on the internet, will it have a similar effect as images of water hoses on civil rights marchers?

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