Article 20

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Last fall something amazing happened here in the United States. For the first time in over forty years, Americans, fed up with corruption, fed up with the heartlessness at the core of unrestrained capitalism, and fed up with our cultural/economic dialogue being defined by the financial elites stood up to be heard. Sure the Tea Party movement pre-dated the Occupy one, but these people meant business. No getting bused to DC for the day to shout slogans for them, they hunkered down for the long haul, willing to take all the abuse the elements and authority wanted to dish out.

Dish it out they did, especially at times the authorities. Their betters in City Halls around the country would have none of it. They invoked sometimes arcane rules that are often ignored, they turned a blind eye to police brutality, and arbitrarily denied permits, where that was a possibility, to those who would camp overnight.

Authority hates being challenged. It would like to go about its business with as little question and interference as possible and will use every weapon in its arsenal to do just that. For this reason we must use every tool available to us to call it out. One of the best tools we have is the ability to peacefully assemble. Alone, most of us are very weak, together we are mighty. For many, the only power they will ever have is the shared strength of the person standing next to them at work, in school, in prison or at home.

Which is why we must stand together and demand our leaders make it easier, not harder for us to do so. I believe strongly in the second clause of this Article, that no one should be made to join an association, but I do also believe that unions are important and that we should make it easier, not harder, for them to recruit members. The barriers to gain permits for public activities should not be so onerous as to limit peaceful protest.

This is, of course, asking those whose power we seek to limit the power to do so. It is no surprise then, when even a supposedly liberal President turns a blind eye to police brutality, which is exactly the reason we must turn a blind eye to the rules, so long as we do so peacefully. We must get out, be heard and be visible. They can ignore me, and they can ignore you, but they cannot ignore you, me and the entire country.


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