Chilling, At Least To Me

I found the report about a mock mass arrest of people engaging in civil disobedience in this morning’s IR to be incredibly chilling.

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  • Seriously, THIS is what Helena Police need the most practice doing? Granted, a well trained police force in a civil disobedience situation will probably reduce the chance of violence, but it seems like the HPD should have other priorities.

    (And might I add, protestors might as well start training for these events too.)

  • This just exemplifies how reactionary things are getting and how scared authority is. The less it’s perceieved as legitimate, the more it has to prepare for things like the population actually resisting an oppressive institution for a change.

    I just want to register a few problems I have with the article. First, we learn that “Protester Barb Moy, an auxiliary officer for the Helena Police Department, said the officers were cordial, professional and careful not to hurt the volunteers.” That’s great. I’d always trust people from the Helena Police Department to comment on the just conduct of… the Helena Police Department? Wait, I think she’s not as qualified to make that assertion as a less partial observer might be. Second, it doesn’t seem very clear to me why training for a response to a civil disobedience “scenario” will result in a more just response to an actual demonstration.

    If civil disobedience is necessary, that means that the State is behaving in such a way that even the most morally spineless buffoon can tell it’s unjust. Which means, in effect, that the State is behaving so unjustly that for it to act in a non-aggressive way would be internally inconsistent with the way it been acting before.

    Finally, the whole premise of civil disobedience is that the only way for the State to disperse a demonstration is to use force, which inherently aggressive.

    So in the end, this training makes about as much sense as training people to rape others “gently.”

  • When was the last time a group of people conducted a sit-in or any other type of civil disobedience in Montana? I could understand if the WTO was going to host its next meeting in Missoula (I recommend against it, WTO), but this is not a scenario that comes up in Helena, Montana. There are other things you could be doing, cops.
    My guess is that the HPD and other departments are required to do some amount of this training in order to receive Federal funding tied to fielding of some of their equipment, like radios or those fancy GPS / dispatch systems in their patrol cars. I’m not particularly scared of the police or of their abusing power like this. But here’s a better idea:
    – use federal funding to educate people on their civil rights, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, including the writ of habeas corpus
    – urge people to volunteer more with organizations or schools in order to be more involved in young people’s lives so they don’t find themselves on the lost highway
    – require Brad Johnson to regularly update his schedule
    Okay, this comment was kind of lame. No Pogie award for me. I need to get back to work.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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