The above photograph depicts Greek Farmers using their trucks to shut down ingress and egress to the nation as a form of protest against governmental farm subsidy policies. The issue becomes ” when does freedom of speech ” end, and what images are brought forth when police are used to stop speech?
In many parts of the world the Police Agencies are federalized and under national control. As opposed to the United States where we have local policing . America has no national police department. That is a good thing, for when things get tough and civil unrest arises inept and often failed national politicians, and their failed policies try and use the Police to prevent or save them from public outrage. Police should not be used to quell robust speech by the people to communicate displeasure at the government.
However as we speak President Obama in his stimulus program has earmarked funds for policing. ( see http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE4BI04320081219?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews ) Pursuant to Congressional Power in the spending clause ( Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. ( see (http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.htm )l they can “condition funds” , as such mandate controls and regulations on how the funds are spent. ( see http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/spending_clause/index.html Many are nervous Obama want to ” federalize the police” See;http://www.jbs.org/index.php/us-constitution-blog/3415
Yesterday, in Greece, failed economic policy’s have caused the farmers to be upset. To communicate their frustration they were driving their tractor trailers to the capital of Greece to bring attention to their plight. See http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-02-02-greece-farmers_N.htm?csp=YahooModule_News
Now clearly, when and if they have the ability to “freeeze traffic” the conduct may cease to be speech and becomes disorderly conduct ( See http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal/PEN0240.20_240.20.html ) e.g. obstruction of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, annoying and perhaps a choke hold on the overall flow of the capital goods and services in the country.
Nevertheless , Police always lose when they are viewed by the public as the “aggressor” and “enforcer” for a political group in power. Especially, when the group engaged in free speech is a sympathetic group such as “farmers” who are perceived to be the backbone of a nation and the definition of “hardworking” dawn to dusk. In the USA their are so many “aggro merchant” corporate farmers the independent farmer has dwindled. See http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/realdirt/film.html
I believe that the current civil unrest in Greece, Iceland is just the start. However, policing is a “local” event and when the population is upset with National policies the burden of civil order often falls on the national police. Images of riot police and K-9 dogs conjure up images of police misconduct and inhumane treatment to the citizens. It’s a no win situation for the police and with the infusion of anarchists baiting the police well intended organizers ” freedom of speech” intents are corrupted and infiltrated by persons seeking violence and disorder. Here is a link to one such event ( http://www.infowars.net/articles/august2007/220807Provocateurs_SPP.htm )