Criminalizing Protest

They’re Beating-Up Protesters in D.C.

Protest March January 21, 2017 Photo credit: Howard Lisnoff


They’re Beating-up Protesters in D.C.

The full-court press of repression against protest is taking place at the Venezuelan Embassy (Venezuelan Embassy’s Power Cut Off in Tense Washington Standoff,”New York Times, May 10, 2019) in Washington, D.C. Pay attention! Pay close attention to how representatives from Veterans for Peace and Code Pink have been beaten-up, physically abused, and treated as criminals for the simple act of bringing food to those occupying the embassy and keeping that property, which belongs to the government of Venezuela, out of the hands of the puppet government “headed” by Juan Guaido and out of the hands of the imbeciles in the administration headed by Donald Trump.

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink gives a riveting appraisal (CodePink’s Medea Benjamin: Venezuelan Embassy’s Power Cut,” Real News Network, May 9, 2019) of her attempt to deliver food to the besieged occupiers of the embassy and the physical abuse that she suffered as a result of that simple humanitarian act.

Veterans For Peace National Board President Gerry Condon was beaten-up (Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace, Violently Arrested At Venezuelan Embassy, “ Courage to Resist, May 9, 2019) after he tossed vegetables to protesters occupying the embassy. The Trump administration is trying to criminalize tossing vegetables to protesters who stand against a coup d’état.

The Courage to Resist article cited above gave the telephone number of the Secret Service for those willing to call to protest against the treatment of Benjamin, Condon, and others. I called the Secret Service and complained. The person with whom I spoke said that the U.S. government  tasks the Secret Service with protecting properties such as the embassy and they conducted themselves properly at the Venezuelan Embassy. The delivery of the prepared statement was chillingly Orwellian and dystopian! The Secret Service’s response reminded me, and had the same force, as the ominous lines of police that waited on the highway as a busload of protesters of which I was a part approached Washington, D.C. to protest George W. Bush’s first inauguration. We’re not headed for a police state, we’re teetering precariously at its edge with one foot firmly in it already! The police presence and actions in May 1971 in response to Vietnam antiwar protests also came to mind.

D.C. police have also had a presence at the embassy. For many people of color in communities across the U.S., police have long been a permanent presence.

There are valid criticisms of the government headed by Nicolas Maduro. The government of Venezuela could have taken many actions when the Venezuelan economy was riding high on the price of oil, but that is not the case now. The treatment of anti-government protesters in Venezuela is a valid claim and open to serious criticism. With the full-court press of repression breathing down the neck of Venezuela’s government via a push for regime change coming from Washington, D.C., with the support of countries like Colombia and Brazil, it is difficult to assess just how a government responds in such a crisis for survival. 

Much of the heat now felt in Venezuela in some ways is an attempt by the Trump administration to bolster its fortunes as the 2020 election approaches. Such a tactic as diplomacy is unknown among the regime changers in D.C. They know the dictates of the Monroe Doctrine that views Mexico, and nations in Central America and South America as part of the domain of U.S. hegemony. If the past is prologue, then a U.S. intervention could be more real and lethal then the beating and abuse at the Venezuelan Embassy.

Can regime change in Iran be far behind?

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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