Published: Mar 24, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Mar 23, 2012 06:38 PM
Not long ago the Chapel Hill Police Department was facing a barrage of criticism for the way it handled a protest by “anti-capitalist” activists.
Now it’s Carrboro’s turn.
Members of a group calling itself the Carrboro Commune and some members of the Board of Aldermen have said the Carrboro PD’s response to a protest outside the site of a proposed CVS pharmacy last Saturday may have been overly heavy-handed.
We beg to differ.
About 50 protesters gathered at the site last Saturday to stage what they called a “Guerilla Gardening” event. They couldn’t get onto the lot itself, because CVS erected a fence around it after protesters occupied the vacant building last month.
So the protesters hung signs on the fence, planted seedlings at its base and lobbed “seed bombs” – clumps of dirt and wildflower seeds – over it.
Carrboro police were present in force, with 22 officers monitoring the event. They videotaped and photographed the demonstration, as did some of the protesters, and they arrested one man who was chalking a travel lane, charging him with impeding traffic after he reportedly ignored repeated instructions to get out of the road and let traffic pass.
When you have a recent history of breaking into and occupying private property; when you announce your intention once again to “trespass” and “resist”; when some of your members have arrest records for offenses including weapons violations, well, you should hardly be surprised when police take you seriously.
But aside from keeping the sidewalk clear and making the one misdemeanor arrest, police simply watched. They didn’t break up the demonstration or argue with protesters. They didn’t unholster their weapons or tap billy clubs against their palms.
Instead, they kept an eye on the situation to ensure that the laws were followed, that order was maintained, that the public right of way was clear – and that the people were free to peacefully and lawfully express themselves.
That hardly looks like intimidation or harassment from here. It looks pretty much like what the police are supposed to do.
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