Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Protest Militarization and Counter-Measures

As recently reported in the New York Times, police arrested a Queens man for allegedly helping protesters at the recent G-20 summit in Pittsburgh avoid police orders to disperse. In my book, I describe the new "militarized" environment at world summits like the G-20, political conventions, and other critical events. I recommend that protesters adapt to the new surveillance of public assembly and speech by using technology to network and coordinate. The arrested man was using Twitter to communicate with protesters in the streets. Eugene Volokh suggests that this may be a difficult case of what he calls "crime-facilitating speech." We'll have to wait for more facts to be reported to determine whether the tweets actually violated any law. The police are no doubt anxious to retain their technological advantage during public assemblies and protests, and to ensure compliance with lawful orders. But just as surely, protesters ought to be allowed to use technology to coordinate their public asemblies and displays.

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