Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Strange happenings in DC

While the men's lacrosse team at Mr. Jefferson's University was celebrating a most unexpected national title in Baltimore yesterday, quite a different scene was taking place somewhere between M&T Bank Stadium and Monticello, at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. Per The Washington Post,
The U.S. Park Police is investigating whether its officers were too aggressive in arresting five demonstrators who were dancing in protest over the weekend at the Jefferson Memorial.
Videos that have surfaced online show the officers forcefully arresting the protesters on Saturday afternoon. One officer is seen in the videos with his hands around a protester’s throat.
The protesters were challenging a recent federal appeals court decision that upheld a ban on dancing inside the memorial.
Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said Monday that concerns have been raised about the actions of some of the officers, and the chief has directed the Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct an investigation. Schlosser says the protesters were arrested for demonstrating without a permit.
The above-referenced video is here:

To be fair, the park officers definitely start out with a reasonable tone, and they only respond with the so-called "violence" and "brutality" upon repeated provocation. But the sight of officers using physical force to restrain what can only be described as the most peaceful of protestors is ludicrous, and of course that's the whole point of the demonstration. I mean, what is this, Footloose? (Wait a second, they're remaking that movie and releasing it this fall? Oh, for Christ's sake...)

Now, I don't really understand why you would want to dance at the Jefferson Memorial (aside from maybe celebrating a lacrosse national title), but I don't really care. I think that it goes far beyond the scope of our federal government to begin declaring what are and are not appropriate ways of visiting memorials and monuments (though I guess I'd agree that behavior that constitutes vandalism is inappropriate, but that's covered under pre-existing laws and statutes, and it certainly isn't what's at issue here).

It's a colossal waste of our national resources to enact and enforce a frivolous law like this anti-dancing law, and I'd argue that it's indicative of a broader lack of focus on what's important down in Washington. Mr. Jefferson would be very upset to see something like this occurring on land dedicated to honoring his life and work; we did his memory and legacy a huge disservice yesterday.

[Washington Post]

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