There’s been a lot of talk about forcibly removing folks from various parks all over the nation that are playing host to the Occupy movement. I can certainly sympathize with that, as I’m not a particular fan of the Occupy crowd. However, I also can’t help but feel that forcibly removing them is exactly the wrong thing to do.
The First Amendment says (emphasis mine):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Most of the Occupy folks may be obnoxious, but they’re still peaceably assembled. The Constitution doesn’t specify a time limit for such assemblies either. After all, the text doesn’t say, “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble but only until the street lights come on”, now does it? Of course not. There is no text in the Constitution outlining a time table.
Honestly, I don’t know whether these Occupy crowds got permits or not. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. I’m not a fan of permits being required to exercise a constitutional right. I’m not a fan of having to ask the government’s permission to buy a gun, so why on earth would I be OK with asking their permission to peaceably assemble?
Outside of opposing bank bailouts, I’ve found little common ground with many of the Occupiers. Most of what I’ve seen and heard argued for from these people makes me physically ill. However, I also find ideological inconsistency makes me physically ill. I’ve seen it plenty from folks on both sides when it comes to the Tea Party/Occupy debates of which is better. (Ironically, both oppose bank bailouts and tax dollars going to already rich people.) I believe that if we are going to hold the Constitution up as the pillar of how to govern in this nation, then we need to stick with it.
Some of the Occupy crowd has broken the law, and I believe they need to be arrested for that. Same goes for anyone else who breaks the law. However, those appear to me to be isolated incidents and not really indicative of the movement as a whole…and that movement as a whole still has plenty of issues. However, they don’t need to be forced out of their little worlds just yet. If they cross that line of “peaceably” assembled no longer being an apt description? Pull them out. Until then, just let it go.