Patricia Nell Warren

We Must End Attacks on the Right to Peaceful Protest

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | September 02, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: Just Dissent, protesters at conventions, right to peaceful protest

As national convention time rumbles onward, an old issue rears its ugly head. It's the ugliest, most terrifying monster head that Americans can see during a Presidential election. It wears the contorted face of a denial of rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights -- to peacefully assemble and petition our government -- at a time when we are supposed to be celebrating our access to democratic rights. But as usual most Americans want to bury their own heads in the sand, and not see the face of the monster coming at them.

In preparation for the Republican convention, pre-event waves of protester arrests were already clanking ahead a number of days ago. According to news reports, the city of St. Paul expects as many as 50,000 anti-war protesters to march on the convention. On August 31, eight were arrested; on September 1, nine Veterans for Peace were arrested. Just yesterday respected Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman and two DN! producers were arrested for daring to interview protesters. Today all three were released, but they still face possible felony charges, as a result of arrests that Democracy Now! termed "illegal."

I'm sure there will be hundreds more arrests before the RNC ends. We can always expect this kind of thing from Republicans, since so many of them worship "law and order" and don't give a hoot about the Bill of Rights. At the 2004 RNC, a total of 1086 arrests were made.

But in Denver at the DNC, the waves of arrests happened too - and the Democratic Party, which supposedly cares about the Bill of Rights, made no open objection. Today, at political events like this, the MO most favored by law enforcement -- whether local or Secret Service -- is to do massive pre-event surveillance, the kind that is now sanctioned by the U.S. Patriot Act. You establish who might be the potential protesters, and make a broad pre-emptive strike with lots of arrests. Then you hold the prisoners till the event is over, without access to lawyers and without charging them with anything. Bails are set excessively high so as to inhibit most releases. This way, you keep the possible perps away from TV cameras. Afterward, you can release some of them, and charge others with as many felonies as you can think of, in hopes they will wind up with heavy sentences, meaning they will be out of activism for many years.

Following the Democrats' cue, TV news cameras didn't linger on the Denver DNC arrests. The local CBS station did report that the city of Denver prepared what CBS called "Gitmo on the Platte," a warehouse full of hundreds of wire cages where arrestees were confined like so many stray dogs in the local pound. One ABC reporter was arrested when he was merely trying to photograph some politicians. Gitmo on the Platte did get used -- according to Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Colorado ACLU, "Hundreds of people were rounded up by police, detained without access to attorneys, and denied the most basic due process protections."

Now, with news cameras moving to the RNC, Denver arrestees will be stranded in a twilight zone where their trials might last for years, and get little or no news coverage by major media.

Let it be said that I'm an Obama supporter and a lifelong Democrat. But it was very ironic to me that Obama, the Clintons, Al Gore and other party notables were delivering their wonderful glowing speeches inside the Denver convention center, but nobody was talking about the not-so-wonderful denial of due process going on in the streets. Indeed, it's a horrible paradox. Democrats are talking about "the need for change." But in some instances, the needed "changes" may not happen without the added oomph of peaceful protest. Those include "changes" wanted and needed by the LGBT community.

Lessons of History

It's a funny thing about protests. People who protest usually have legitimate beefs with their government. That's one of the big lessons of history. In our own time, suffragettes had a legitimate beef when they chained themselves to the White House gates in the early 1900s. So did the unpaid veterans who marched on Washington D.C. after World War I, demanding their pay. So did the striking workers of the 1930s, and the black Americans who started lunch-counter sit-ins in the 1950s. So did the anti-war protesters of the 1960s, and the LGBT people who marched for their rights in the 1970s, and the environmentalists of the '80s, and the anti-globalists of the '90s.

Legitimate protest happens when a people's impatience with government stonewalling finally boils over, and a lot of them assemble outside the palace gates. Ideally, hopefully, it is peaceful protest, but the numbers do send a powerful message. Hopefully the government gets that message, and moves to a positive solution. The tactic was perfected by Mahatma Gandhi as India struggled to end British colonial rule, and the British got the message -- India was granted its independence.

Protesters were doing it this way for many centuries before news cameras existed to get our faces in front of. The ability and the right to pressure government for change is why our founders included all these freedoms in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment, along with freedom of religion and speech, guarantees "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The Fourth Amendment guarantees freedom from arrest without probable cause. The Eighth Amendment bars the imposing of excessive bail.

But something happened to American peaceful protest on its way to the New Millennium. Sometime during the 1990s, our First, Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights began to quietly disappear. They were being undercut by so-called "crime reform," i.e. stealthy changes of criminal law affecting protest at both the state and federal level.

Since that time, I'm sorry to say, both political parties have been party to the slow-but-sure erosion of these Amendment rights. Formerly, back in the Sixties, protesters would usually be charged with a misdemeanor -- a small fine, a few days in jail. Rosa Parks paid a $14 fine for her historic protest on the bus. Now the trend is to charge protesters with felonies -- and to stack up multiple felony charges against an individual. Bails can be colossal -- a million dollars or more. Even a misdemeanor conviction can now send you to prison for as much as a year, and get you a heavy fine.

In other words, an activist's life can go up in smoke after the first arrest -- and his or her voting privileges might be taken away as a consequence of a felony conviction.

Is this an issue that should concern LGBT people today? Absolutely. Since the late 1990s, many thousands of us have been arrested and put through the meatgrinder of the new law-enforcement MO. We range from the 50 Soulforce protesters arrested at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis in 2001, to the four Harvard Students recently arrested for "criminal trespassing" during a DADT civil-disobedience action at a local recruiting center. When ACT UP was most active in the streets, so many members were arrested and their lives destroyed as a result of harsh prosecution that today the organization is careful to educate its members on how to hopefully avoid the worst abuses of law enforcement if they're arrested.

LGBT people also get arrested when they protest about non-gay issues -- like the Florida gay man who was jumped by police a few years ago for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt at a Bush rally.

Outrageous Incidents

The first extreme flex of U.S. law-enforcement muscle came in 1999, during the World Trade Organization's ministerial conference -- the so-called "Battle of Seattle," where there were admittedly some violent anarchist types among the some 40,000 demonstrators who thronged the streets. But the law guys seemed unable and unwilling to tell the difference between the violent and nonviolent variety -- their philosophy was "shoot them all, God will know his own." In 2007, eight years later, 157 Seattle arrestees were still suing for justice...and a federal court ruled that their Fourth Amendment rights had been violated because arrests were made without sufficient evidence or probable cause.

With the series of WTO protests, the erosion rate picked up, and a trend to charge protesters with felonies picked up steam. It took 9/11 for the federal government to make the next deadly step, which was characterizing any form of home-grown dissent as "unpatriotic" and "domestic terrorism." But it's important for Americans to recognize that the trend started long before 9/11 -- that it started because certain people with a lot of political power simply did not want any repeat of that stormy landmark era of protests that changed our country so much, the one that lasted roughly from 1950 till 1980. They wanted to remake the United States their own way, and they still do -- and they want to make sure that the American people have no legal or constitutional weapons to stop them.

Republicans pushed the trend because they always like to take a hard line, and Democrats went along because they were spineless and didn't want to look "unpatriotic."

In 2000 I attended the Los Angeles DNC on a media pass, and was shocked to see the massive and unabashed crushing of any and all protest.

LAPD was out of control, taking the position that all protesters were potential Black Bloc anarchists. Their actions ranged from beating up a homeless activist leader who had a permit to be where he was, to using a bogus bomb scare to try closing down the Shadow Convention where Arianna Huffington, Gore Vidal and Bill Maher were holding forth -- figures who hardly qualified as Black Bloc. Not to mention the cops who raked New York City public advocate Mark Green and his party with rubber bullets as they were making their way to the Staples Center. Yet inside the convention, as the speeches and posturing went on, nobody talked about the civil-liberties nightmare that was going on outside.

Probably the most outrageous case is one where even legislators were handled roughly by law enforcement. In 2001, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D - IL) and several others joined with Puerto Rican protesters over U.S. Navy bombing practice on the island of Vieques. Gutierrez had a personal interest because his parents lived on Vieques. He wound up being beaten and stomped by Navy police. Federal authorities sent a strong message of their own, jailing Gutierrez, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Rev. Al Sharpton and his wife, and 176 other protesters, including several other legislators from Puerto Rico and the mainland. Sentences ranged from 40 days to 6 months. The government threatened 10-year sentences if there was a repeat demonstration.

A handful of outraged Congresspeople went to the Justice Department and demanded an investigation. Later the Hispanic Caucus in Congress held a hearing, where witnesses described how Navy security beat Luis Gutierrez. But in the end it all got swept under the rug.

If members of Congress who demonstrate peacefully can be treated like this, there is little hope for the rest of us. And after all the destruction the Navy wrought in protesters' lives, it relinquished use of the bombing range in 2003; today the feds are spending at least $200 million to clean up toxic waste at the site.

Presently another Vieques-type confrontation is shaping up right on the U.S. mainland. In Washington County, NC, farmers and conservationists are pitted against the U.S. Navy, who wants to build a practice landing field in the middle of a thriving agricultural community and a wetlands region full of migratory birds. One issue is potential danger to fighter jets from collisions with large birds like snow geese. But the Navy is damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead on this one, with local people saying they will resort to civil disobedience to stop construction. Sen. John Edwards has spoken out against the project, but I doubt we'll see him among the protesters... unless he's okay with being labeled a terrorist and spending a long time behind bars.

"Just Dissent" in California

For eight years now, I've been one of the people writing about this dire issue. Right after 9/11, I published an editorial making some predictions in The Advocate about the over-reaction from U.S. law enforcement that would happen now that we were at war. Everything that I predicted in that article has come to pass. Another cautionary article of mine, called "Denial and Democracy," ran in the Gay & Lesbian Review in winter 2001.

Later in 2001, I wrote an editorial "Fourteen Dollars" for the AIDS magazine, A & U, about the growing punitive attitude of law enforcement towards anybody who dares to protest publicly about health issues. A case in point was the 1999 Texas bust of 15 disabled people in wheelchairs, members of a national disabled activist organization called ADAPT. They had gathered at Governor George Bush's mansion to protest legislation that would require disabled people to live in nursing homes instead of living independently. Police arrested the 15 for "trespassing," and roughed them up, spilling them out of their wheelchairs. Ironically, the judge who sentenced the 15 had a hard time finding a jail with wheelchair access.

Along with a group of activist colleagues, I've also experienced the difficulty of changing these new anti-protest laws once they're in place. In California in 2001, my "Fourteen Dollars" editorial came to the attention of State Senator Richard Polanco and his legislative deputy, Maria Armoudian. They took a look at the state criminal code, where fines and sentencing for protest had been amped higher and into the felony category. Like many states, California now has a conspiracy clause that is the state version of the federal government's power to seek RICO convictions on "conspiracy" that crosses state lines. A working group of activists, trial lawyers and media people, including myself, got together and called ourselves Just Dissent. We drafted a bill that established some protections for legitimate peaceful protest in California. Our idea of a solution was to lighten fines and sentences back to the token level where they were in the 1950s.

In early 2002 Senator Polanco introduced SB 1796 in Sacramento. In spite of opposition by various law-enforcement groups, state legislators heard our message and the bill actually passed. Unfortunately SB 1796 was vetoed by Democratic governor Gray Davis. Davis told us loftily, "Politically motivated protests and demonstrations can be performed, allowing participants to support their cause, without disregarding laws."

Actually, Davis was dead wrong. The way the laws are now written, interpreted and enforced, it isn't possible to do any peaceful protest, no matter how mom-and-pop it is, without being accused of breaking some law or other. Law enforcement is very creative about attaching those magic words "felony conspiracy" to any situation that suits them. Like "felony conspiracy to block a driveway" (and conspiracy can merely mean that two people talked on the phone to plan it). In California, a "felony conspiracy" to protest some action by President Bush, the Governor or other high political figures can get you nine years in prison. Today, anywhere in the vicinity of a political event, even wearing a T-shirt with the wrong message can get you arrested and a year in jail.

With a Republican governor in office, Just Dissent recognizes that Californians haven't got a prayer of passing a similar bill at the moment. But we work and hope for a better day. Meanwhile other states need to have their criminal codes lightened up on peaceful protest as well. Not to mention the daunting task of compelling our government to amend its post-9/11 federal laws and terrorist surveillance habits, so that citizens exercising their legitimate rights regarding legitimate issues won't be fatally confused with the real terrorists who need to be dealt with.

Some arrestees do manage to challenge out-of-control law enforcement after the fact, and get some measure of justice. But that can take years, and money for lawyers and court fees that most people don't have -- unless they get the support of some organization like the ACLU or Lawyers Guild. Just recently a federal court ruled that the District of Columbia had unlawfully arrested about 70 people during an anti-war anti-Bush protest march on Inauguration Day in 2005. The arrestees are now entitled to sue the District for damages.

Today, while activist organizations like ACLU, Democracy Now! and others are expressing more concern about protester arrests -- while growing numbers of Americans have signed petitions protesting the general losses of First Amendment rights under the expanded U.S. Patriot Act -- most of our citizens still show little or no concern over their vanishing right to peaceful assembly and petition. Most people don't think of protesting as something they'd want to do -- especially since the major media are going along with government policy to portray all protesters as "domestic terrorists" who deserve no sympathy because they "break the law."

In Conclusion...

If the Democratic Party is truly going to stand for "change" today, then they have to add this change to their list. Our First, Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights must be restored where peaceful protest is concerned.

I recognize, however, that right now is probably not a good moment for Presidential candidate Barack Obama to speak out on this issue. Which is probably why he hasn't done so. Obama has already been attacked with allegations of being "unpatriotic," on grounds of his Kenyan and Muslim family background. Indeed, charges of "unpatriotic" are leveled at anybody, politician or citizen, who dares to challenge the restrictions on free speech that go ever higher with each year.

Yet this growing issue makes the U.S. look more and more hypocritical in the eyes of the world. For example -- before the start of the Beijing Olympics, the U.S. media was highly critical of China over its pre-emptive arrests of Chinese activists and foreign journalists. Well, how are our own pre-convention arrests any different than what the Chinese government did?

If Obama is elected President, I pray that this issue will be added to the list of changes he says he wants to make. In his acceptance speech, Obama said, "You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq." I agree...and you also don't defeat that international terrorist network by taking away from Americans one of the most fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. In his speech, Obama mentioned the importance of the Second Amendment, but hey...the First Amendment has to come first.

Hopefully Obama will have a Democratic Congress that will work with him on amending these dangerous and repressive federal laws, and on encouraging the states to do likewise. Otherwise it won't make much difference to American's welfare if Obama keeps his promise to give more Americans jobs and better healthcare. Jobs and healthcare without freedom to protest is what the Chinese have. It's what Soviet citizens had.

The Democrats can't pretend that they represent "democracy" if they recapture the White House and continue to let this life-and-death issue fester.

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It's important to remember that it's DFL (Democratic Party in MN) administrations that are carrying out the raids. Democratic sheriffs and mayors gave the orders to do this. It's not just the Republican Party, or Barack Obama that has a problem here. All of American society, including the Democrats, needs to get their act in gear and demand the restoration of our civil liberties. The very people who were standing up and demanding what is rightfully ours, are now the victims of these raids.

That's exactly what my article said...that both parties are responsible for having let this trend get out of hand...and that all Americans need to get behind a movement to get our rights back.

David Daniels | September 2, 2008 7:41 PM

Yes, both parties are at fault here...I blame the Repubs mostly and the Dems for being spineless.

But wasn't the Patriot Act written years ago by the Repubs waiting/planning for another Pearl Harbor type scenario so that it can be enacted?

America as I know it is gone!

Actually, David, the PATRIOT act was penned during the Clinton Administration. The groundwork was laid by one Diane Feinstein and the 1998 Anti-Terrorism Penalty Enhancement Act. You should read the coverage I did of the Sherman Austin case. Austin was the first person to be put in prison under the PATRIOT Act.

Let it be said that I'm an Obama supporter and a lifelong Democrat. But it was very ironic to me that Obama, the Clintons, Al Gore and other party notables were delivering their wonderful glowing speeches inside the Denver convention center, but nobody was talking about the not-so-wonderful denial of due process going on in the streets. Indeed, it's a horrible paradox. Democrats are talking about "the need for change." But in some instances, the needed "changes" may not happen without the added oomph of peaceful protest. Those include "changes" wanted and needed by the LGBT community.

Patricia, I totally agree. Which is why I won't be supporting any candidate in November. But that's not the point of your post, so I won't be detracting the focus here.

If Obama is elected President, I pray that this issue will be added to the list of changes he says he wants to make. In his acceptance speech, Obama said, "You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq." I agree...and you also don't defeat that international terrorist network by taking away from Americans one of the most fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. In his speech, Obama mentioned the importance of the Second Amendment, but hey...the First Amendment has to come first.

Unfortunately, I don't think that any politician (with the exception of the adorably elf-like Dennis Kucinich) has the moxie, let alone the political capitol in our current political climate to be able to repeal the PATRIOT Act.

Sorry - here's the link to the coverage of Sherman Austin's case.

And just for shits and giggles, here's a list of reasons to hate Diane Feinstein (other than the PATRIOT Act) that is pretty LGBTQ specific.

It's true. Both parties don't like criticism...

From attending the last Dem convention and protesting at 2 Republican ones, I have to admit though that the Republicans were much more heavy handed than the Dems.

David Daniels | September 3, 2008 2:00 AM

Yes Serena, the Patriot Act might have been penned during the 90's but during a Republican controlled Congress. The Dems are not clean in this area however, it is the 'Republicans who thought up the idea during the Reagan administration'... I have done my homework and have resources in high places who spoke 'off the record'.

Still, the point is and what Patricia Nell Warren has clearly laid out is that our founding liberties are slowly eroding and the Republican party wants to erode more while the Democrats are afraid the attack machine will portray them as unpatriotic.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 3, 2008 10:36 AM

The fact that the Bill of Rights (1789) followed after the Constitution (1787) also led the founders to quickly vacate New York (where Washington took the oath of office) to go to Baltimore and plan building the isolated city of Washington DC. The French Revolution toppling throne and head of our previous ally was a rude awakening.

There was always the fear from the beginning, among the powerful, of the uneducated mob that they had delivered from English domination to their own. The only "Rights" belonged to white male "landowners" (a lot of land to qualify) guaranteeing their freedom. We are not referring to a house lot.

The only taxes were import fees, spirits and liquor taxes. The latter two were doubtless designed to further keep the "mob" under check of their low minded impulses (such as expecting freedom themselves).

Thank you Patricia, I hope we can return to the rights (including privacy) that we enjoyed during McCarthyism, but I am skeptical. Is it even possible to think that our rights are fewer than during that time?

I would say that we have fewer rights now. One big problem is the multiplication of felony conspiracy charges. "Federal conspiracy" has been around for a long time -- it was used against a handful of leftist activists in the 1960s -- but today it is also widely established in state law and is freely used by local law enforcement against, probably, thousands of demonstrators every year -- though the charges don't always stick. Clearly, from some of the court decisions I've seen, law enforcement isn't above fabricating the grounds for their felony allegations.

It will be interesting to see what kind of grounds the law guys in St. Paul pull out of their hats for their conspiracy charges against Amy Goodman and her two producer colleagues.

I am working on another post that will give a background on evolution of the conspiracy charge -- it is fascinating and chilling material.

Clearly, from some of the court decisions I've seen, law enforcement isn't above fabricating the grounds for their felony allegations.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and Assata Shakur are probably the most famous examples of this. Unfortunately, there are many less famous examples of activists who have had false charges placed against this. For instance, the founder of Phoenix Copwatch, Laro Nicol, served 18 months in federal prison after he plead guilty to weapons charges that resulted from a gestapo-style raid on his home. He was charged as a "prohibited possessor," because the initial reason for the raid on his home stemmed from drug accusations. When the cops didn't find drugs in his house, they seized his weapons, all of which (3 guns) were legally purchased and registered in his name. The irony of the situation is that Bush allowed the federal law that Laro was charged under to sunset during Laro's sentencing process. So the law didn't even apply by the time they got to court. But Laro's fuck-tard public defender didn't think they could win at trial, so he urged Laro to take the plea agreement. This, despite the fact that the judge asked Laro several times during the sentencing hearing if he really wanted to accept the plea agreement instead of going to trial. Why? Because the federal prosecutor in the case threatened to use the 1998 Anti-Terrorism Penalty Enhancement Act in order to trump up the charges.

Thanks, Diane Feinstein!

I'd say that it was the apathy among people about their government and the obvious erosion of our rights that gives me the most concern, but what is even more troubling is the ease with which these events are taking place. Handfuls of people notice and attempt bravely to make a difference, but they are sidestepped too easily, their efforts squashed with some ink and a veto stamp. Barely anyone notices.

It's an odd feeling to live within a culture of fear. The people who wield this considerable weapon have changed the intent of the government of this country so vastly that it is barely distinguishable in some ways from more oppressive governing bodies of the past. The tactics of fear have been used so mind bending successfully that it is no wonder that conspiracy theorists abound in vast numbers. I suspect many people see how easily the lay of the land has shifted and are busily grasping at straws trying to find an explanation for what we were taught to believe in this country was impossible: That those inalienable rights that had been drilled into our heads from an impossibly early age could in any way be undermined. It was unthinkable.

Voting, for me at least, has become a thing of casting for the lesser of the evils. Neither candidate is by any means perfect, but one is head and shoulders above the other in terms of looking out for the rights of individuals. By voting I can be assured that I have done all that I can do to help correct the injustices visited on people who are merely trying to exercise the rights supposedly given to them by birth in this country. Yes, I am a Democrat. No, I am not so idealistic as to suppose that Democrats are blameless. At this particular point, I'm not sure blame is such an important issue. Restoring our trust in government is the issue now. Restoring our rights is the priority now. And my strong suspicion as a Democrat is that when Obama selects members for retiring Supreme Court justices, we may have a small edge on the people who have used fear tactics so effectively to erode our personal rights.

We have to hope, don't we?

The way to begin to ending "attacks on the right to peaceful protest" is to disassociate ourselves from the two candidates, Obama and McCain and their parties. They both sponsor McCarthyism as a backdrop for their plans to expand the wars in the Middle East. That’s why they want to limit dissent and take a hatchet to the Bill of Rights.

The most recent attacks on civil liberties began with Clinton. In the middle of his second administration Clinton launched a murderous embargo on food and medical supplies destined for Iraq that was solely and directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. His hawkish Secretary of State, Madeline Albright admitted as much on the CBS program 60 Minutes.

Lesley Stahl asked “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright answered “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

Unsurprisingly Albright, like Sam Nunn, the author of Clintons infamous DADT, is now a top advisor to Barak Obama. The Democrats have been in the wilderness for two terms and they all want jobs in the Obama’s administration.

The brutal murder of so many children provoked a renewed antiwar effort in the US and that’s why Feinstein and other right-wingers (an accurate description of virtually all congress members except for a few fence straddling centrists like Sanders and Kucinich) began cooking up new legislation designed to limit protest and civil liberties. After the barbarity of 9-11 Bush used the precedents of Clinton’s lies and mass murder and Feinstein’s laws mauling the Bill of Rights.

Obama and McCain both voted for the renewal of the Paytriot act and for FISA which saves billions in settlements for ATT and other telecommunications giants guilty of illegal wiretapping to aid Bush’s war effort and got their thirty pieces of silver for taking a hatchet to the Fourth Amendment.

They and their parties will continue down the same road because they’re worried about the power of a renewed anti-war movement. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we drove mass murderers like LBJ and Nixon out of office in disgrace and, along with the stubborn resistance of the Vietnamese independence movement, sent the US military brass staggering home in humiliating defeat.

Building an independent, massive movement for immediate and total withdrawal of all US forces from the Middle East and cutting the purse strings that pay for the apartheid regime imposed on Palestinians is the best way to protect our civil liberties. That is vastly more compelling to lawmakers and judges than another appeal to uphold the Constitution. We’ve all seen what they want to do to our Constitutional right and it involves hatchets, trenching tools, knives and blunt instruments.