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I think it sends a number of important messages. One is we celebrate the grand tradition of free expression and the Occupy movement's populace's voice reminds us to be vigilant on two fronts. One is that the power of the corporate state cannot go unchecked if democracy is to survive. The second is that the heart of our democracy is our ability to raise our voices free from governmental intrusion-- our voices of dissent-- so those voices are not criminalized, so dissent will not be criminalized in this country. But in fact, the first amendment and the ability to raise one's voice against the powers that be-- speak truth to power--so to speak, is the classic mantra. That voice of dissent is also the call to freedom. And that freedom has also been expressed repeatedly, throughout our country's history, with every movement for social justice., whether it was the right to vote for women or the labor movement in the 20s and 30s and 40s and the civil rights movement and the movement to oppose the war in Viet Nam. All those movements were movements for justice, to create a better society, to put the spotlight on the dark places where government has undermined democracy.
Each one of those movements is a critical part in our history and the occupy movement now is in line is another chapter in the struggle for social justice, highlighting, in the twenty-first century what is really the most important issue, control over our society and the usurpation of democracy by this emerging corporate state.
On a number of different levels it sends a message that the courts, at least in Philadelphia, have recognized the value, the tradition and the importance of the first amendment expressing ideas that may be initially difficult for many, but clearly, as we've seen in this movement, embraced by many. It's a very powerful statement and i feel it's an historical one.
I hope it has a direct effect. I hope it emboldens those who are in the movement to say that what we have done, in highlighting the important issues-- the struggle for social justice against the power of the corporate state on multiple levels-- environmental issues, labor issues, issues involving unjust incarceration, and certainly the racial inequality within the criminal justice system-- all the issues that have coalesced, police brutality, all those issues that have kind of coalesced in the occupy movement are, hopefully emboldened by recognition in philadelphia that the first amendment is alive and well. and will be protected despite the intrusions by the police-- in this particular case, by the unlawful arrests of those expressing their first amendment rights.
In Philadelphia they were acquitted-- over 90%-- there were over 400 people arrested in various places. And then, since that time, the employed strategy by most municipalities, in coordination with the federal government is to get the protesters off the street, in large part a violation of their first amendment rights-- then give them diversionary programs. They're less concerned with convictions after the fact. They're more concerned with cataloguing and identifying dissenters and protesters and having swept off the streets.