April 16, 2015

"Resistance is not part of civil disobedience."

"Civil disobedience is a symbolic non-violent violation of the law.... The act must be nonviolent, open and visible, illegal, performed for the moral purpose of protesting an injustice, and done with the expectation of being punished."

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin instructs, explaining the arrests of the high school students who, protesting the police shooting of Tony Robinson, may have resisted police efforts to relocate them from the street to the sidewalk.
"In the future, while all of these protests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, MPD will not be facilitating extended street closures."
In the past, the police have facilitated protests that took over the street. During the big protests of 2011, we saw police cars blocking the streets so cars could not get through. We've had it personally explained to us by a police officer that redirecting the cars was considered the best approach.

I don't know what the precise policy is, but I note the word "extended" in the mayor's statement. I guess the police will facilitate your street-blocking protest in Madison, but not for too long. I hope it means that where there are marches confined to the sidewalks (or State Street), police ought to stop traffic to let the whole march cross an intersection as a single, densely packed group. But the phrase "on a case-by-case basis" hints of: 1. something that permits flash-mobbish takeovers of the streets, and 2. something that could be applied — consciously or unconsciously — in a way that is not viewpoint neutral.

27 comments:

TosaGuy said...

Soglin: As long as I agree with the issue and it benefits me, the your disobedience is civil. If you are a pain in my butt, then you are just a bunch of hooligans.

SteveR said...

Upper Middle Class Public Union workers have privileges, kids, not so much.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Resistance is not part of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a symbolic non-violent violation of the law.... The act must be nonviolent, open and visible, illegal, performed for the moral purpose of protesting an injustice, and done with the expectation of being punished."

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin instructs, explaining the arrests of the high school students who, protesting the police shooting of Tony Robinson, may have resisted police efforts to relocate them from the street to the sidewalk.


That doesn't make any sense. If they hadn't resisted, they wouldn't have been arrested or punished, so by Soglin's definition it wouldn't have been civil disobedience.

MayBee said...

Smilin' Jack- I would say the act of sitting in the street is an act of civil disobedience.

MayBee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry said...

"Madison Mayor Paul Soglin instructs, explaining the arrests of the high school students who, protesting the police shooting of Tony Robinson, may have resisted police efforts to relocate them from the street to the sidewalk."

Could have simply shot them, I suppose.

rhhardin said...

Blocking traffic comes under fighting words in Ohio, as I recall.

Peter said...

"Madison Mayor Paul Soglin instructs, explaining the arrests of the high school students who, protesting the police shooting of Tony Robinson, may have resisted police efforts to relocate them from the street to the sidewalk.

Well, yes, and Rosa Parks might have resisted police efforts to relocate her to the back of the bus. But she didn't resist arrest.

What distinguishes the Madison protests from civil disobedience isn't "resistance" (aka refusal) to stop the disobedient behavior, but unwillingness to accept punishment for violating the law. Perhaps they've forgotten that part of MLK's strategy was to provoke so many arrests that Montgomery would run out of jail space?

n.n said...

Pro-choice.

David said...

Shorter Soglin: "They aren't university students."

Michael in ArchDen said...

Peter makes the point I made to my own high school students who wanted to protest some changes being made at their schools that would affect the AP US History courses. I told them, I'll support your decision, but the power of civil disobedience comes from the willingness of participants to accept the consequences. I'm not excusing you from classes you miss because you want to march. If the cause is important enough to you to risk a lower grade, go for it.

They both went to classes.

Alex said...

In the name of social justice, no law matters.

Anonymous said...

Wow, how did Madison end up with a Mayor who actually understands what Civil Disobedience is?

Now, would it be better if he simply announced "anyone breaking the law during a political protest will be arrested, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law"? Yes. But this is a start.

PackerBronco said...

"Case by case basis"

Ah yes, well I guess I know how tea party protests will be treated, but that's okay, it's all on a case by case basis.

MadisonMan said...

Young People of Madison! Please listen to your old Mayor! He knows better than you about all sorts of things!

glenn said...

These protestors don't vote. See how easy that was.

ken in tx said...

Here's my take on civil disobedience, blacks in my native south, were right to disobey the civil authorities because their right to vote was curtailed, and they had no legal input to modify the rules they were breaking. Similar conditions applied for 18 yr-old draft eligible demonstrators during the Vietnam War. Notice the demonstrations went away when the draft went away.

These people are just youthful lawbreakers taking advantage of a lenient system and inconveniencing the general public.

Meade said...

I agree with Mayor Soglin.

Tank Man.

James Pawlak said...

The best solution for mobs is volley fire.

clint said...

What's the fine for jaywalking in Madison, Wisconsin?

Enough to be worth bringing in extra officers at overtime rates to hand out the tickets?

How long do you have to wait before a "protestor" remaining in the street constitutes a new jaywalking offense?

MadisonMan said...

Can one be fined for jaywalking in Madison? I doubt it. I've never seen it happen, or even heard about it. People cross mid-street all the time.

Char Char Binks said...

"...nonviolent, open and visible, illegal, performed for the moral purpose of protesting an injustice, and done with the expectation of being punished." Two out of five ain't bad.

Big Mike said...

Which is pretty much what I said yesterday.

MadisonMan said...

I'm trying to picture Soglin's reaction -- back when he was an undergrad -- to a lecture from, say, William Dyke.

Would he listen?

Curious George said...

I wouldn't be doing any "civil disobedience" in Madison if I was black. A good way to get deaded.

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
Can one be fined for jaywalking in Madison? I doubt it. I've never seen it happen, or even heard about it. People cross mid-street all the time."

Arrested? Maybe not. But if you're black it can get you shot:

The shooting of Tony Terrell Robinson Jr. occurred on March 6, 2015, in Madison, Wisconsin. Robinson, a 19-year-old biracial man who was 6 feet 5 inches tall, was fatally shot by Matt Kenny, 45, a white Madison police officer, during an altercation that occurred as Kenny was responding to reports of a man who was jumping in front of cars...

Madison "Worse than Ferguson"

Char Char Binks said...

Curious, jaywalking is usually just someone trying to cross the street where there isn't a designated crosswalk, not someone trying to get run over by cars, or block traffic. Robinson was jumping in front of cars, either trying to make them stop, or trying to get hit, or so out of his mind on mushrooms that he didn't know what he was doing. The protesters on E. Wash weren't jaywalking; they were deliberately disrupting traffic, bullying drivers by not letting them drive where they had a legal right to drive. Please prove your assertion that jaywalking can get blacks shot in Madison. Name even one black who was shot for jaywalking here ever.