Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
CapitalistSwine

Silent Dancers Violently Arrested Jefferson Memorial

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

People arrested for silent dancing at the Jefferson Memorial: Was an organized freedom rally protest.Video here of the encounter w/ the police, woman being handcuffed immediately after first warning, tells them she didn't hear them/apologizing, they continue to arrest. Would not tell other group specific reason/law why they could not dance. Will be imprisoned for whole weekend.

The man in the disobey shirt is Adam Kokesh, he hosts a tv show on the MSM network Russia Today and is a radio talk show host. He was a Corporal in the USMC and is an Iraq war veteran. He ran as a Congressional candidate in the 2010 elections in New Mexico.

They are body-slamming and throat gripped people that are not even moving/resisting on to the ground violently and then handcuffing them. This is absurd.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my god!!! What the hell is happening to this country!! I feel sick. :( Why were they so violent!? They were complying and they just body slammed and choked that guy!

Edited by Meghan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok. There currently are laws regarding public performances and demonstrations on public property and if the people in question did not have those permissions then they were in violation of the law.

Picture this, these people start their dance. A small kid who doesn't know what is going on wanders out into the performance and one of the dancers spins around and knocks the kid into the corner of one of those stone benches or the statues platform. The kid is badly hurt in the accident. The parents of the child now have legal recourse not only against the dancer but against the park police (the government) for allowing the unapproved dance to happen.

As for the arrests. The police were actually quite restrained. You see when you are being informed that you are being arrested then non-compliance with a police officer when he says things like "hands behind your back", "stop moving" and "do not resist" are reason and invitation for escalation of force. The people walking away hands up or not, or struggling against the police who are attempting to handcuff them are in fact resisting arrest and should count themselves lucky that these police did not resort to some of the other weapons at their disposal.

The stupidest act one of the police did was to tell the one guy to shut up. He just should have removed the demonstrator from the site in the first place.

Just as you do not have the right to do whatever you want on private property without the owners consent you do not, under today's laws have the right to do whatever you want on 'public property' without the consent of government.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's ridiculous then that they were breaking any law. Dancing? Really? We're not even talking dancing of the sort where there is a lot of physical exertion. I saw slow dancing (even then, it was more like a hug than even dancing), and there was one guy dancing in a silly way, but hardly in a threatening manner. You may have a point if there were flailing arms, but there wasn't. The "what if" scenario you presented doesn't make sense, a kid could also wander into a person walking and get hurt. A person walking is more dangerous than what happened in the video. Did you even watch it?

The police were restrained? What are you talking about? There definitely was excessive force, without reason to apply force in the first place even. If they had any restraint, they would not have done ANYTHING. The only amount of resistance was questioning what the police were doing. It looks more like those police had no idea what they were doing. At the end, yeah, the guy yelling "this is a police state" may have been quite upset, but I think he was totally justified in getting upset. Arrested for dancing. Absolutely stupid.

Sure, you should have consent of the government to do things on public property, but it's stupid when there is no amount of reason applied by people who enforce rules, and when the rules make no sense, I usually think it justified to ignore those rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's ridiculous then that they were breaking any law. Dancing? Really?

But it wasn't just dancing; it was dancing as part of a planned political demonstration. I seriously doubt that if on some random day two people started to slow dance in the Jefferson memorial, that they would be arrested. This was clearly a situation where the cops were aware of a pre-planned demonstration involving dancing and possibly a flash mob, that was not permitted or licensed. They weren't arrested for dancing, but for demonstrating through dancing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The real core issue is whether or not it is proper for the government to require a permit to demonstrate on public property.

The real problem is the mere existence of "public property"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not clear what it was they were protesting. If they were protesting against the requirement of getting a permit to protest on government owned property then they're either anarchists or poor at picking important battles. Either way, it seems a little immature and undeserving of pity. Was their a real cause that I missed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently there is another "Dance Party" at Thomas Jefferson's Memorial planned for June 4th: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150453268357946. From the event page:

Come dance with us! You don't have to risk arrest, you can dance on the steps outside in support or join us in civil disobedience in the memorial!

The dancing will commence at EXACTLY 12pm!

Don't forget your air guitars!

I'm not even sure the organizers know what they're protesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently there is another "Dance Party" at Thomas Jefferson's Memorial planned for June 4th: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150453268357946. From the event page:

I'm not even sure the organizers know what they're protesting.

The background is essentially this:

A few years ago, a young woman was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial for silently dancing, alone. The other day, a judge upheld the officer's decision to arrest her. His argument was essentially: we are the government. We have the power. Obey or else.

There is no rule against dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. Some cop just took it upon himself to arrest a girl for dancing, and some fascist judge upheld the decision. No law was broken by any of these people. This is why, when asked what law they'd be breaking in the beginning the cop just says "you'll find out", because he could not cite one. The people basically decided to dance there as a way to protest this.

Regardless of who you think was in the right during this incident, I find it sad that this took place there when "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." -- is one of the quotes inscribed on the wall at the Memorial. He is also famous for having penned, "If a law is unjust a man is not only right to disobey it he is obligated to do so."

Straight from the horses mouth:

I also think that the Objectivist habit of calling anyone who does something like this an "anarchist" is a bit ridiculous.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think that the Objectivist habit of calling anyone who does something like this an "anarchist" is a bit ridiculous.

Well the ruling is certainly ridiculous (the ruling being just about dancing, and not about protesting), and if these people think it's important enough to protest, then so be it (personally, I'd rather they protest something which actually harms our country and its citizens, like the drug war or Obamacare or something). What I can't stand is all of the police-bashing that generally follows events like this (see the comments on the event page for evidence supporting my generalization). Yes, it's a bad law, but being a police officer means impersonally and dispassionately upholding the law, whether you agree with it or not. Furthermore, police forces which are held to this standard of not enforcing their whims are a necessary requirement of a free society. So it just gets to me when people at these events go from criticizing the judges and lawmakers responsible for the stupid law, to bashing the police officers who have to carry out the law. That's the characteristic of these protesters that strikes me as the most "anarchist": their criticisms of police officers who are granted the authority to carry out the law, and respond when people resist arrest for those laws. Criticize the laws and the overexpansive state all you want, I'm with you, but we need cops who are authorized to respond with force to lawbreakers, in order to live in a free society. People who equate a police state with a state where the police are authorized to respond with force are simply wrong.

Edited by Dante

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you on all points Dante. It also bothers me a great deal that people have the habit of generalizing these actions to the entire profession, and the like. It is also clear, as has been pointed out, that a few of the dancers could have handled themselves a bit better. While understandable to an extent, the guy constantly shouting wasn't helping things, and the person that grabbed on to the other person's arm should not have done that. Doing that is a big no-no for non-violent protests, I don't know why that wasn't made clear by Kokesh (maybe it was) before they began. I agree that the focus should be on the law. At the same time, I also think these officers could have handled themselves better as well, particularly on the issue of failing to cite the law in question, which is required of them, and telling the one man to "shut up". I also can see why, at least from their position, the policemen would feel the need to intervene with respect to some of the dancers, though I do feel it was a bit ridiculous to mess with that one couple that was barely even moving outside of a 1 foot radius, though we all know far too well these situations tend to get messy more often than not.

Like I said, agree with you on all points.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think that the Objectivist habit of calling anyone who does something like this an "anarchist" is a bit ridiculous.

Is it also ridiculous to suggest that they are poor at picking important battles? Because I'm pretty sure that is the case...Or is making indirect ad hominems at out of context strawmen the only way to avoid being ridiculous? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an article on Restore the Republic, it has a different camera view from the one in the original post so you can get another look at how things went down. It shows a lot more o the whole picture, since it's from the perimeter of the building, rather than right up close where you cannot always see what is happening:

http://rtr.org/videos/2/21418

Is it also ridiculous to suggest that they are poor at picking important battles?

Adam Kokesh has had his own radio show, ran for Congress, was a strong advocate against the Iraq war after having fought over there, and now has his own tv show on RT with tons of liberty-oriented guests, and Yaron Brook is fairly high up on the list of recommended guests that are suggested. What are you doing? I think he is allowed to pick his little battles that are important to him on a personal level every once in a while, considering he is doing more than anyone in this forum the other 90% of the time. So what if it is not an "important" battle, we have entire organizations like CATO, ARI, Mises, FEE, and on down a hundred times over focusing on all of the "important" battles. What does that have to do with anything? Sounds like you just want to belittle their efforts whilst you watch Spongebob in your pajamas on Saturday mornings and discuss how the government sucks online. This attitude annoys me.

Edited by Jennifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not clear what it was they were protesting. If they were protesting against the requirement of getting a permit to protest on government owned property then they're either anarchists or poor at picking important battles. Either way, it seems a little immature and undeserving of pity. Was their a real cause that I missed?

I understand this point, but what exactly do you do if people don't care about even minor cases of bad rules such as no dancing at the Jefferson Memorial? Is the only way to change a rule to ask politely and wait years? No one would be in a hurry to change this rule really because the issue probably will never come up again. I wouldn't even say the issue is the dancing at all as much as it is the principle of it.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand this point, but what exactly do you do if people don't care about even minor cases of bad rules such as no dancing at the Jefferson Memorial? Is the only way to change a rule to ask politely and wait years? No one would be in a hurry to change this rule really because the issue probably will never come up again. I wouldn't even say the issue is the dancing at all as much as it is the principle of it.

You sort of answered your own question. The issue probably won't ever come up again. I could list 30 things off the top of my head that people could better spend their time on than this. Even best, best case scenario...get an amendment added to the Constitution which expressly allows dancing at the Jefferson Memorial...so what? I still have to give away 1/2 of my money each year...airwaves are still granted by government charter.

In all actuality though, there probably isn't even a rule about dancing there. The rule is probably that security can take what steps they feel that they need to ensure the safety of the grounds and the visitors and staff. Best case scenario, you could have the sergeant reprimanded for over reacting. But even that is unlikely since the officers were incredibly restrained. Leaving out firearms, clubs, and tazers, all of the martial applications were entirely non-ballistic, restraining techniques. The gentle chokes, take downs, all of it. They could not have been more gentle.

And to save you(Jennifer, not Eiuol) the trouble of another ad hominem, I've studied martial arts for the better part of 14 years, mostly self defense applications. You know...in between episodes of Spongebob.

Edited by aequalsa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the same thing on public roads. Some speeds limits may strike you as utterly ridiculous, but intentionally breaking the law and going to jail as a form of protest is valueless and wrong headed.

This is a bad example because there is some kind of rational justification to speed limits which also have precedent anyway. Plus, breaking speeding laws are bound to get you in a lot more trouble than dancing in the Jefferson Memorial. Or so they thought. If anything, this kind of "demonstration" (hardly qualifies as one) is a good way to get attention towards bad rules and how all property should be private, since the consequences are less severe than something like tax evasion. As you said, ideas do matter and you can only change things by altering how people think, and one way to do that is get people on your side for even small injustices. I wouldn't say anything really if this was private property, but it's not. It's not really any kind of property, meaning I think the only justifiable rules can be ones that are rational/sensible. Really all this shows is how "public property" is bad and that some cops enforce rules *just* because they're told.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My hope is that through Montessori, teaching children how to think critically and in essentials will help them realize the futility of this decidedly anarchist approach to change. G

If employing strawmen and ignoring gigantic swathes of history that seem to strongly suggest you are anything but not completely wrong on this point is how you are going to attempt to teach children how to thing critically then you have already failed them miserably.

but intentionally breaking the law and going to jail as a form of protest is valueless and wrong headed.

They broke no law.

The rule is probably that security can take what steps they feel that they need to ensure the safety of the grounds and the visitors and staff.

Jefferson was one of the greatest activists for freedom. The ones who weren't respecting the memorial were the cops, causing a huge ruckus and disturbing the peace. There was no need to ensure "safety" or "security" until they decided to get involved. You can clearly see at the beginning of the video that no one touring the memorial is even giving these people a second thought. This is the same bullshit argument that resulted in things like the Patriot Act. So if a cop tells you to stop doing something that isn't illegal, and you don't, and then you "taunt" them, that's a crime? How is this not the definition of a police state styled-event? How is this not morally evil?

I also find it interesting that the fact you learned martial arts, whatever was going on with your sister, and all of that other crap has any relevance at all. I don't care about your personal achievements and experiences, I was talking about condemning political actions that, historically, have had numerous successes with respect to these types of things, whilst you are not assisting in bringing about political change in any sense.

But even that is unlikely since the officers were incredibly restrained. Leaving out firearms, clubs, and tazers, all of the martial applications were entirely non-ballistic, restraining techniques. The gentle chokes, take downs, all of it. They could not have been more gentle.

I have an uncle that is part of SWAT, I have a cousin that is a police officer, and I have a family friend that is part of security for national park and memorial grounds in D.C., i.e. the area of jurisdiction that this memorial falls under. Interesting that every single one of these people seems to think that this was poorly handled, that these officers were out of line, and that they had no right to proceed in the way they did considering they broke the law by violating numerous Constitutional rights provided to all citizens, such as being told specifically what law you are being reprimanded for breaking.

With friends of freedom like you, we sure as hell don't need any enemies.

Edited by Jennifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If anything, this kind of "demonstration" (hardly qualifies as one) is a good way to get attention towards bad rules and how all property should be private

I'd agree, but I didn't see them do anything to make that case. They seemed to walk onto government property just to say, "your not the boss of me." If he uses it as a platform to make a real philosophical case I'll give him more credit for that.

It's not really any kind of property, meaning I think the only justifiable rules can be ones that are rational/sensible.
It is a kind of property though. It is government owned property which would exist, at least in the form of courtrooms, military bases and police stations even in an Objectivist utopia. There is no right to dance in a courtroom, or a police station if those who manage it ask you not to. It is the same case here. You could make a case that the government should not own any memorials but they seem to be implying that because it's "public property" and they are members of the public, they have some sort of right to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a difference between the rule of law and treating any and all laws regardless of objectivity as ends in themselves and obedience to them as a moral duty.

So the question is about whether or not there is an objective law at work here. In this case, there seems to be no law that was broken. Which means that question is moot and it is simply a matter of submission to the arbitrary edicts of law enforcement officers on a power trip versus a matter of treating any and every piece of public property as if it were private property, and the cop as expression of the will of the owner. In the case of the latter, excluding considerations of the propriety of this policy, we taxpayers are the owners and have the right to disagree about the use of police to treat patrons (and co-owners) on our property this way without being labeled with “anarchist” as a pejorative.

In any event we can say the whole idea that dancing constituted a “demonstration” or was disruptive of a “place of reflection and contemplation” as nonsense. They were doing little more than moving their bodies in a similar manner than walking from one end of the monument to the other. The cops could have let it go and they would have left. Instead they decided to choke slam the people and close it down. Doesn't make sense. The whole point of getting a permit for a demonstration is ensuring the activity isn't harmful to person or property and to solve the problem of rivalrous use of scarce property.

Then, as far as your idea that this constitutes an attempt at political change without intellectual enlightenment, Eiuol already brought this up, but there is no reason why we can't consider that this constitutes an act of intellectual enlightenment. Seeing as how the guy is employed by a media network and hosts a TV show dedicated to spreading libertarian ideas, and has a history as an activist, as well as being a Congressional candidate, we can view this as an attempt to make a viral video to expose the arbitrary power of the police state, especially when it is juxtaposed to the statue of Jefferson. You may say it isn't a philosophical point, it's just rebellion for the sake of rebellion, but that's groundless. They've been pretty clear it's about resistance to the injustice of arbitrary power resulting from that prior court ruling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a difference between the rule of law and treating any and all laws regardless of objectivity as ends in themselves and obedience to them as a moral duty.

You make a good point and I would agree that if someone were experiencing a disvalue acting against the law with the realization that you might go to jail could be a reasonable risk one might take. This wasn't the case here though. It was a small, though deliberately organized demonstration to break the law as a way of making a political argument against the government's particular method of managing its facilities.

we taxpayers are the owners and have the right to disagree about the use of police to treat patrons (and co-owners) on our property this way without being labeled with “anarchist” as a pejorative.

We have the right to disagree but we are not co-owners of government property. we are citizens who elect representative that, among other things, write regulations for how the governments property shall be used.

I did not intend anarchist to be a pejorative but rather one possible description for this action. The other being that the battle was poorly picked. I just do not see this as indicative of a police state. Forcing me to by health insurance? Forcing me to sell my house to wal-mart through eminent domain? These yes. But doing whatever I want on property that's not mine? Kind of a stretch for me.

In any event we can say the whole idea that dancing constituted a “demonstration” or was disruptive of a “place of reflection and contemplation” as nonsense.

The original dancer was not, but I think it was pretty clearly a demonstration that they thought that dancing should be allowed. People didn't just happen to be dancing there and it was on the heels of another event.

They've been pretty clear it's about resistance to the injustice of arbitrary power resulting from that prior court ruling.

That's where our difference of opinion lies. I and apparently the courts don't see the right to regulate their own property as arbitrary. The only way it becomes that is if you buy into this leftist notion of public property where it is something that all citizens have a right to. It doesn't exist. You can't build a house in the middle of a national park. walk into area 51(or any military installation really) or, apparently, dance at the Jefferson memorial. Once ownership of property is transferred to government then anything that you can do there is by privilege and not by right because it is theirs. I agree that it should not be theirs, but that isn't what they are arguing, as far as I can tell.

They seem to be accepting the premise that the government owns the property but that they have no authority to regulate it as they see fit since it's "public.".

Edited by aequalsa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's where our difference of opinion lies. I and apparently the courts don't see the right to regulate their own property as arbitrary.

I understand what you're saying, but there is actually a rational reason for the rules you mention later in the post. Sure, when it comes to private property, the owner can make any irrational rules they want. But since we're talking about rules being set by government which has near-infinite force backing it up, it is proper to demand that the rules the government makes are rational and sensible. You seem to suggest that since the government is the custodian of property here, then they can make whatever rules they want until it becomes private property and that people should just deal with it like private property owners having irrational/stupid rules. Personally, I'm saying that *because* the government has control over the memorial, any person should demand a standard that is expressed on the memorial itself. That I can't simply go into area 51 as I please has reason behind it, while not dancing at the Jefferson Memorial is arbitrary.

Tell me, how is this a poor battle picked? It's a pretty direct way of showing that public property is a bad concept, non-invasive towards people who want to spend time at the memorial, and likely minimal consequences beyond maybe a night in jail.

A relevant article: http://blogs.forbes.com/benkerschberg/2011/05/18/d-c-circuit-opinion-banning-dancing-at-memorials-deserves-very-close-scrutiny/

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×