Today you’d not only be forgiven for believing that the battle for civil liberties exist entirely as a form of symbolic protest, but rewarded for it. Social media and protest groups focusing on NDAA, SOPA, or HR 347 are everywhere declaring that the days of American civil rights are over. Many of these groups bear a non-coincidental resemblance to the same conspiracy theorists and attention-seekers that have been warning of impending concentration camps and martial law for decades, AKA the “black helicopter” crowd. However, the homily of “it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you” appears to become increasingly applicable as some of the same groups who decry these phantom threats are now those that are having their rights robbed from them at gunpoint.
Vicious Irony, Assault Rifles Visit Occupy Miami
For the fall and winter of 2011-12, Miami’s Government Center had more than the usual smattering of soap-box preachers and hate groups jockeying for the hearts and minds of thousands of commuters pouring through the public transit hub and government complex in downtown Miami. Dozens of freshly initiated activists flyered and demonstrated every day, often decrying phantom threats such as NAFTA, the lack of investigation into 9/11, and indefinite detention via the National Defense Authorization Act.
Therefore, the SWAT raid of March 13th came as a far-fetched surprise to some and digitally-divined prophecy to many of its victims. Several dozen heavily armed SWAT agents, responding to a completely phony “terror tip,” lined up all the residents of 540 NW Seventh Street, an apartment complex communally run by members of Occupy Miami, searched the building, and took several Occupiers for questioning about important, Jack Bauer-level stuff, such as their religious affiliations. In the meantime, innocent families were forced out of their homes by police in conjunction with a local-federal Joint Terrorism Taskforce.
As the time of this writing, no major news outlets have felt that assault rifles being pointed at innocent Overtown residents is worth a blog-post about, let alone actual reporting. But were Occupy Miami victims of the newly-legislated police state?
Not anymore than the American Indians were, or the millions of victims of chattel slavery. In fact even in modern times our police forces have a history of viciously murdering and imprisoning political opponents and advocates for oppressed people and paying virtually no consequences for it. It didn’t take the Patriot Act to bomb the MOVE family and nobody waited around for NDAA to pass in order to lock up Mumia Al-Jabal or Leonard Peltier. In Miami, DeCarlos Moore and the victims of the Urban Beach Week/OK Corral Shoot-out are just a few police murders that have occurred in recent years where nobody will ever be held accountable. Constitutional rights and freedoms have always been selectively applied by the state!
The lesson to be learnt for the newly awakened internet legions is this: legislation doesn’t kill people…cops kill people. In order to join in a struggle that will change this vicious, centuries-old status quo, we must show solidarity with the actual victims of the state, and demand not the reinstatement of arbitrary and non-binding civil rights, but the demolition of the capitalist military apparatus that polices and oppresses us all in favor of a society that protects communities and provides justice fairly and transparently, to domestic dissidents in the slums and the financial and war criminals sealed in their ivory towers alike.