>> todd I'm this close to writing a letter to the N&O thanking the cops for
>> their restraint and hard work anyway morman
I was right there when this happened. The cops were very calm, true. But
in many of their faces throughout the evening I saw a look that said "go
ahead, make my day." (I'm not making this up, I have pictures.) The
episode of blocking off the driveway happened after two demonstrators
(including the Rev. Curtis Gatewood) who had raised $100 from the crowd to
get in, were denied entry by the event staff (a handful of aspiring West
Wing interns). Somehow it was the cops who were face to face arguing with
the guys trying to go in, instead of the staffers. I have to wonder who
they're working for.
So then the cops weren't just exchanging the barrier for another one, they
were purposefully pushing back the protesters who had been in the driveway
trying to get their representatives in to the dinner which we paid for.
On a related note (below), apparently civically engaged folks have more free
speech rights than panhandlers regardless of their repugnant opinions. I
think we should organize a homeless march.
Police ready to protect marchers
By Beth Velliquette, The Herald-Sun
March 24, 2003 7:57 pm
CHAPEL HILL -- No matter whether someone wants to demonstrate for or against
the war, the chief of the Chapel Hill Police Department has pledged that his
officers will provide protection for the demonstrators.
"This town has a history of being a place where people can voice their
opinions," Chief Gregg Jarvies said. "Our philosophy is to allow people, no
matter what their viewpoint, to have their forum."
If demonstrators get into the streets, the police officers are told to
provide protection for them from cars and others who may have opposing
viewpoints, Jarvies said.
"We have two choices: Arrest them, which some cities have done, or ... do
what we do during a basketball situation," he said. "If the groups or
individuals are causing chaos, then we take law enforcement actions, but so
far the groups that have protested have been cooperative and orderly."
Residents have both agreed and disagreed with the departmentıs philosophy.
Jarvies has received telephone calls and e-mails thanking him for protecting
the demonstrators, and ones criticizing him for allowing them to take over
the streets and block traffic.
"Itıs about 50-50," he said.
Police have been trying to handle demonstrations the same way they handle
post-game street celebrations.
Rather than fighting with people who want to take over the streets, to
celebrate basketball victories or to demonstrate for or against the war, the
department temporarily closes the street and allows the people to do their
thing. Officers concentrate on safeguarding people and property.
Because the police are experienced in handling crowds after big UNC
basketball victories and on Halloween night, theyıve only needed to receive
a little extra training in dealing with demonstrators, Jarvies said.
"Weıve done some training within the last two weeks to talk about civil
disobedience and demonstrations," he said.
No matter their views about the demonstrations, officers have to put aside
their own feelings, Jarvies said.
"We donıt listen to what theyıre saying, and we donıt make our decisions
based on what theyıre saying," the chief said.
Last Friday, the Police Department ended up protecting people on both sides
of the Iraq issue who were marching about a block apart.
Jarvies recalled that back in the early 1980s, officers were required to
provide protection for the Ku Klux Klan when it marched through town. Some
of the officers assigned to the detail were black and had to endure the
marchersı derogatory comments, Jarvies said.
Jarvies remembers seeing those black officers staring straight ahead,
remaining professional no matter what people said to them.
"What weıre doing is protecting the rights of all the people," he said.
"Whether the officers agree or disagree, our job is to make sure that people
have the right to say it and not be attacked for saying it."
Although many people have demonstrated against the war, Jarvies says heıs
hasnıt heard anyone say they donıt support the troops.
To be prepared for any type of event, all on-duty officers, detectives
included, have to wear their uniforms, Jarvies said. Other officers in
Orange County also are prepared to head to Chapel Hill if theyıre needed for
Orange Countyıs government has prepared for problems stemming from the war
in Iraq. Last week, the emergency management staff met with law enforcement
officials to prepare for activation of the countyıs emergency operations
center, should it be needed.
"We do that routinely as part of our multihazard planning," said Nick
Waters, director of Orange Countyıs emergency management department.
The idea is to prepare those people who would be first to respond to some
type of terrorist attack, "to make sure weıre on the same sheet of music,"
The Orange County Sheriffıs Department has also told deputies and residents
to be on the lookout for problems. On its Web site, the sheriffıs office
instructs residents to call 911 if they see something suspicious.
A deputy will check out any report. "I think it would be good to check it
out," Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said. "If itıs nothing, it will make them
feel a little bit better."
Deputies have also been assigned to check utility stations and water
supplies regularly to make sure no one is tampering with them, Pendergrass
URL for this article: http://herald-sun.com/orange/10-334825.html
Ruby Sinreich r...@lotusmedia.org http://lotusmedia.org/blog
"One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal
that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr