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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox--Ghosts in the darkness

At Chatterbox, we talked about the Occupy movement, including the Wall Street moment when peaceful protesters, contained by fencing and simply standing there, were pepper sprayed for positively no reason whatsoever.
One woman who was deaf was sprayed, leaving her blind as well. Occupy Wall Street was the movement that initiated pepper spray, a tool of aggression instead of self-defense for which it was conceived.
We may remember the image of college students holding a completely peaceful sit-in at University of California Davis, when campus police casually blanketed them with pepper spray. They were just sitting there, completely peacefully, on a campus square and totally within their rights … sprayed for no reason.
Many of us can easily conjure riveting photos taken after live bullets from the National Guard killed unarmed students on the Kent State campus 50 years ago. These kids were protesting, all unarmed. Some got out of line, but no one was out of control. They were exercising their Constitutional rights and four teens were killed for it. These are the kind of anomalies that should never occur in a free America.
Now, we have new visions to haunt us. A line of women … no, mothers … standing arm in arm, carrying nothing past a single flower or a protest sign, on a public street, damaging no property, and calling themselves the Moms, protected the ranks and kept the protest peaceful, all within the law. They, too, were pepper sprayed, hit with non-lethal bullets, tear-gassed, and clubbed. One, we know, was actually pregnant … so, which mom frightened the heavily protected commandos?
Alden Roberts, a prominent surgeon who had been there, interviewed medics from the site. Many said they were forcefully removed from the injured parties they were aiding, sprayed, clubbed and dragged off to be arrested for doing their job. Roberts also reported that the protesters stayed within a few blocks of the federal building and most of the protesters were peaceful. Indeed, one person was abducted while heading away from the protest.
We understand protesters need to stay within the realm of legality, keeping to their constitutionally guaranteed rights but, understanding their intense frustration at this point, it’s vital to remember that there are different ways in which a peaceful, meaningful protest can spiral out of control quickly.
One is that it is infiltrated by opportunists, factions operating on the periphery, and agitators from the other side sent to escalate the protests. Those were factors here. Another is that even peaceful protests are being responded to with pepper spray, tear gas, flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, batons and virtual kidnapping. Protesters can only respond with defense. Another is that the protests escalate because peaceful protesting is falling on deaf ears, as these have been for scores of years.
Factoring in the commandos’ overreach, we can see how some protesters, who started out peacefully, went too far. That was very unfortunate, too, because they played right into the hands of the nameless, faceless, federal submission squad. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stated that protests escalated in Seattle only when they escalated in Portland, adding that Portland appeared more like, “…a dress rehearsal for martial law.”
We can’t be distracted by anything while a disguised army has been sanctioned and commits acts in clear violation of the Constitution. Its members have attacked people, without any or enough provocation. Without Mirandizing them, they are whisking them off to undisclosed locations in unmarked cars and even detaining them for several days, unlawfully. Indeed, the commandos even tear gassed Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland – a city they not only weren’t invited into but were, indeed, requested to vacate by the state government.
President Trump has noted that these attacks will be focused on cities run by liberal Democrats. In uniforms of no affiliation, these ghosts are rogue, without restraint, and non-prosecutable. Additionally, conceivably any criminal who can vaguely imitate the desert camouflage look could kidnap any person off the street. In the dark, who could tell?
And, of great importance, we must remember that, regardless of the crime, the arresting process is, indeed, a process. Launching unidentifiable troops against any American violates our Constitution. Period.
If we look to history, we should remember the famous quote from Hitler about taking people’s freedoms a little at a time. These violations of our Constitution typify those incremental infractions. If we aren’t afraid of the similarities, in history, to the execution of any maniacal leader’s will upon the people – we aren’t paying attention.

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