Letters: Response to protest coverage

MPD actions warranted

In its Monday, Sept. 30 editorial “MPD arrests limit freedom,” the GW Hatchet erred when it claimed that the rights of last weekend’s anti-capitalist demonstrators were violated. The protection of the First Amendment does not extend to those who violate the rights of others.

Had the anti-capitalist demonstrators wanted to avoid mass arrests, they could have filed the proper permits with the police for the use of public land and conducted their affairs so as not to threaten the public safety. Instead, the anti-capitalist demonstrators attempted to seize the streets of Washington in order to commit acts of violence and disorder. Their actions included halting traffic, throwing smoke bombs and the vandalism of local businesses and private property. Such conduct is not an expression of freedom; it is its antithesis.

Yet despite the reckless and wanton conduct of the anti-capitalist demonstrators, the editors of the Hatchet blame the police for the arrests in their editorial. And in a signed column (“Respect the student press,” Sept. 30, p.4), Hatchet Editor in Chief Kate Stepan blames the police when Hatchet reporters were detained longer than their counterparts in the professional media because they failed to have the proper press permits to cross police lines. Her excuse – the staff’s press permits have been applied for, but not yet received. Yet apparently, any student journalist should be afforded the same treatment as the professional media, even in situations that threaten the public safety, just by the mere fact that they announce their student journalist status.

The Hatchet should learn how to conduct its own affairs professionally and it should have condemned the fact that for all their lawlessness, the anti-capitalist demonstrators arrested by the police suffered no more than a day’s inconvenience and a trivial fine.

Hundreds of groups each year hold peaceful demonstrations in Washington to communicate their positions. I myself have organized several successful rallies without incident. The anti-capitalist demonstrations are a different thing all together. That the anti-capitalist demonstrators suffer from thoughtlessness and a want of reflection is well known. That they have contempt for the rights and safety of others is also well known. That the Hatchet’s editors have joined with them in their illogic is tragic.

-Nicholas Provenzo, chairman, The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism GW class of ’97

Not helping their cause

As a senior at this university and someone who has lived through four years of protests, I can say without a doubt that these people who think they are doing so much to help their cause are doing nothing except irritating the people of this city and this University. They do more to shut down GW than they ever have done to stop the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings from happening.

If any of these so-called activists ever wanted to really accomplish something, they would stop attending these ridiculous displays of ignorance, which take time away from their education, and actually do some work to get something done about the issues they care about.

And for the young lady in the article about those arrested at Freedom Plaza (“Arrests mark protest,” Sept. 30, p. 1), the First Amendment to the Constitution does not give the “right to protest,” it gives the right to peacefully assemble. Breaking windows of banks, setting off smoke bombs and putting crazy glue in Metro ticket gates is not what I consider peaceful.

Most of the protesters are kids who just want to be able to say that they took part in a protest in their nation’s capital, just like the heroes of the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement and antiwar protests. Trust me, as an outsider watching these protesters and having spoken to people who actually were participants in the above movements, what these kids are doing is not and will never be on that level. After all is said and done the most important thing that they need to do is keep in mind is if they want to participate in these protests with the knowledge that things may get a little out of hand, then they need to accept the consequences, which include being arrested.

-Jeanne R. Wendel

Nobody’s fault but your own

In response to the column by Kate Stepan on the rights of the student press (“Respect the student press,” Sept. 30, p. 5), she is missing the big picture. While I am all for the rights of the press (including student press), Hatchet staff members who were arrested put themselves in a dangerous situation and its nobody’s fault but there own.

First off, with a large scale protest taking place in the capital of the free world it should be obvious that the police are going to take excessive measures to ensure that peace and order are maintained. The reporters placed themselves in the middle of protest to get better photos but when they did that, they became part of the masses. And the fact that many of these protesters voluntarily get arrested to make a point should deter them from becoming part of any mobilized mass.

All of the reporters are college students ages 18 to 22, all of the protesters were people ages 18 and older, so they blended in nicely. This is an example of cultural profiling. I was an example of this several times on Thursday when security at GW asked for my student ID whenever I went in a building because I look like I could be a protester. The police were attempting to remove unauthorized protesters from the scene as quickly and effectively as possible, they didn’t have time to ask for press passes.

When you go into any dangerous situation you have to be prepared for the worst, do you think reporters are walking around Afghanistan or Iraq waving around a press pass with bullets flying past them? At that point there is no one there to help you but yourself. As much as I despise law enforcement and their tactics, you have to be smarter than they are and always have an escape route. Your reporters acted like lemmings and just walked over the cliff. Andrew Snow even commented in his article (“From the other side of the lens,” Sept. 30, p. 6), “The press were severely restricted, pushed back about a hundred feet by a line of police that was virtually impossible to shoot through.”

That is the risk you take, if you love your work that much you won’t complain about spending a night in jail, because you can sell your quality photos to any newspaper in the country. Personally, I commend you for putting your neck on the line for your job, I just don’t want to hear you whine about the cuffs and nasty bologna sandwiches, you’re lucky you didn’t get beaten.

-Morgan Potter

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