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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dance, Protest, and Thomas Jefferson

Our chapters on civil rights (pp 215-216) and interest groups (p. 289) discuss protest as a political technique. Our chapter on civil liberties discusses "expressive conduct" (p. 177). Recent events at the Jefferson Memorial illustrate these points, as The Washington Post reports:
So, you and four protesters get arrested and roughed up for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial over the weekend. How do you get revenge?

Try an encore performance with 1,600 of your closest friends.

If you’re just coming to this budding controversy, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh and others staged the booty shaking to draw attention to a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that dancing is forbidden at memorials because it distracts from the “solemn commemoration” at such sites.

The Court of Appeals ruling came after 18 flash mobbers were arrested for holding a silent dance at the memorial in 2008. One of the dancers sued the Park Police on First Amendment grounds but lost and the case was appealed.

During the arrests Saturday, a Park Police officer slammed one of the protesters to the ground and another officer put his hands around a protester’s neck.