APEC: Security Trumps Freedoms
Wednesday - November 23, 2011
I blow hot and cold about the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii.
It’s gone overboard arguing that T-shirt vendors had a right to be on Waikiki sidewalks and that the homeless can’t be targeted when they squat on public sidewalks, beaches and parks.
But it has been a steady beacon for our right to protest.
Our country was born out of the right to protest. Now we’re told we need a permit to protest, or we can’t protest here or there. So ACLU-Hawaii posted a “protest tool kit” for the APEC days that said:
“Generally, you have a right to stand or march on sidewalks without a permit as long as you are obeying traffic signals and not blocking the sidewalk. Generally, small groups can use City parks without a permit, but getting a permit may be a good idea even if you don’t technically need one. If you march in the street without a permit, you risk arrest.”
Obviously you cannot “occupy” public property with tents, stoves and furniture. You can protest and depart.
The APEC restrictions were reminders that if we don’t keep defending the right of people to peaceably assemble short term, we’ll see it nibbled to death by authorities who consider it a nuisance.
What happened here was a serious curtailing of that right by citing “national security” and declaring huge restricted zones.
You were not supposed to be near the Hale Koa, Sheraton or can understand security concerns in these terrorism times.
But it seems those are often inflated as a way to work around peaceable assembly of the people. The First Amendment has been watered down by a federal law that says entering any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the president or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting is a crime.
The word “grounds” becomes a quarter of a mile. Then a mile. Then five.
Congrats to Ed Kenney Jr., owner of town and downtown restaurants. He scored the honor of doing Michelle Obama’s local food lunch for the first ladies (plus Australian prime-minister consort Tim Mathieson) at Kualoa Ranch.
And how come Barack Obama never wears an aloha shirt when he’s here?
Curious minds want to know!
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