1st Amendment Right: Peaceful Assembly

Students at the U of California-Davis, who peaceably assembled and were seated on the ground on public property during a protest against galloping inflation as to college tuition, were needlessly pepper-sprayed in the face at point blank range by thugs wearing law enforcement uniforms, despite any resistance by the victims.

While most of us learned in grade school the First Amendment guarantees: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” Linda Katehi, the Greek Chancellor at UC-Davis, ordered her campus police to remove the students, while failing to remind them to respect the constitutional rights of the demonstrators. Apparently, she was never taught the values we hold dear under our Constitution, as she grew up under an authoritarian regime in Greece.

Conservatives who consider inflation one of the worst economic evils should applaud the students for complaining about the outrageous increases in student tuition in recent years. Instead, the Tea Party types, who pretend to know the U.S. Constitution, fail to understand that the Framers would clearly be on the side of the demonstrators. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and the others, despised the British police state imposed upon them, and they guaranteed in our Constitution the right to assemble for the purpose of demanding change. Obviously, when police pepper spray protesters, the ability to redress grievances is violated.

It is time for institutions like UC-Davis to hire Chancellors who understand the Bill of Rights. We need to stop placing foreigners in such valued and important American jobs, when they apparently have little or no knowledge of how our system is supposed to operate. Our police need training to understand that protest is as American as the Declaration of Independence.

We are a nation born on the principle that individual rights are weighed more heavily than the powers of the state. Where people gather to make government aware of their grievances, those in authority must put the tools of repression aside, and should instead listen to the protesters, and then respond to their concerns in an equally non-violent manner. To use force like pepper spray against non-violent demonstrators is nothing more than a violation of the First Amendment Right to Assembly


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