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Commentary: Civil & Human Rights
The above headline more accurately represents events detailed in KCPD Issues Tickets to Abolish Free Speech
In close proximity to two of the ticketed incidents, both seemed well-deserved on Sunday, April 13. The two cited are not new-comers to the Sunday Vigils and have heard the guidelines for protesting announced by organizers at each rally and posted on the www.kciraqtaskforce.org website. ‘Respect toward all we encounter including those who oppose us’ was the primary element missing. Each protestor chose to deliberately incite action by police and their righteous indignation is out of place.

I watched the anti-war protester standing deliberately in front of the SUV driver ignoring her requests for him to move. Admittedly, bumping him with her vehicle didn’t solve anything as he continued to block her. The incident was provoked and giving police ‘the finger’ was not wise. A ticket for ‘Improper use of a hand signal’ struck me as clever but is probably common for KCPD.

Marchers have been advised to obey traffic lights, not to block pedestrians, and stay out of the street. Simple and elementary rules of traffic safety and courtesy. The demonstrators should have demonstrated more street savvy and kept their feet on the sidewalk. It’s a miracle that an auto accident has not yet occurred due to inattentive driving.

‘Flipping the bird’ at an officer and ‘street walking’ are definitely two offenses that give rise police intolerance. These two incidents call into question the accuracy of the account of the ‘honking’ ticket incident. Honking to disturb the peace undermines the real need to defend our rights to free speech and dissent, and could confuse the injustice of at least one motorist being threatened with a ticket for honking in support of peace.

The best advice to the ticket bearers would be to stop whining and pay the fines. A fund for the defense of organized acts of civil disobedience is one thing, but to pay these fines or defend in court would set a precedent that may lead to more random acts of stupidity.

However, while the police showed some restraint they should hold to a course of action which avoids appearing vindictive and arbitrary. Causing cars parked along J.C. Nichols Parkway to be moved, not allowing activists to stop to unload and load their boxes, signs and tables and ticketing those who did not move their cars quickly enough seemed unfair and punitive.

The original focus of KC Iraq Task Force was to resist war, not fight the KCPD. Many attempts to discredit the efforts of the protestors have been tossed about by various critics. It would be a shame if the acts of a few became the reason to call a halt to the weekly Peace Vigils that have brought so many diverse people together for a common cause.


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