Re: The GOP Tampa Bay Convention

Boy Scouts always prepare:

Thousands of Republicans from around the country will descend upon Tampa, Florida next week for the Republican National Convention, and if recent history is any guide, so too will hundreds of protesters.

To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests, which begs the question: will Tampa police keep demonstrators on a short leash?

The upshot: Sheriff Gee intends to jail protesters for exercising some of their First Amendment Rights. To make this political repression efficient and effective, Sheriff Gee released some prisoners who committed crimes against property, persons and propriety! Is Sheriff Gee’s action bizarre? Yes, a rational mind would consider it bizarre to release prisoners in order to suppress legally protected speech and assembly. Is Sheriff Gee’s action surprising? No, not at all!

Let us recall how St. Paul Minnesota greeted protesters during the 2008 GOP Convention:

Police violence is now endemic, and is a recurring problem during political conventions. And it is not limited to Republican Conventions:

The Roberts Court disgraces itself one more time

In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County Of Burlington (pdf), the Roberts Supreme Court held that individuals arrested for non-indictable offenses and meant to be held in the general prison population can be strip searched by prison officials. Correctional officials are to have “substantial discretion” to manage and secure the prison population, according to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. The upshot of the opinion is clear enough: The interests of prison management ought to override any prisoners’ Fourth Amendment rights meant to protect them from unreasonable searches and seizures as well as their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.

With this ruling, the prerogatives of the security-surveillance apparatus have again trumped the requirements set by the rule of law. Since the Florence .v Board ruling is just one component of a larger and longer trend, one may wonder if the United States is now rushing towards the creation of a variant of a bureaucratic authoritarian regime (pdf).

However one may want to answer that question, it is clear that the Florence v. Board ruling arrived just in time for local authorities in the United States to apply the powers it authorizes to the various post-Wisconsin, post-Occupy Movement protest events they will want to suppress during this election year. Steven Rosenfeld of AlterNet affirmed this very point when he reported that, “Among the jurisdictions seeking expanded authority to strip-search anyone arrested were the City of Chicago, where the NATO summit will be held this May and where protests have been planned, as well as the state of North Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention will be held in early September in Charlotte.”

For a concerned and committed American citizen, thanks to the Roberts Court, the exercise of his or her First Amendment rights may end with his or her arrest and personal humiliation.