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Tags: George Floyd Protests | Law Enforcement | insurrection | milley | constitutional

Protest, Police, and the Military: Defending the Constitution

lafayette park

The statue of former U.S. President Andrew Jackson is cleaned after demonstrators tried overnight to tear it down in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2020. - (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Henry Seggerman By Thursday, 16 July 2020 04:17 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The following article is the sixth of six parts.

The George Floyd protests took place in 550 cities and towns nationally and were the biggest protest movement in the history of the United States. In response, Republicans and Democrats — in their by now exhausting style — rapidly proffered separate police reform bills. In this environment, let us focus solely on the police and military response to protest in this country.

The basic military Oath of Enlistment reads as follows:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The Oath of Enlistment is identical for National Guardsmen, except the Constitution of the respective State and orders of the respective Governor are added.

Individual State and city Oaths of Enlistment for law enforcement officers have a variety of wording. For example, the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Oath of Enlistment makes no mention of "orders of officers appointed over," the mayor, or the president:

"I, (employee’s name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America and of the District of Columbia, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."

The First Amendment of the Constitution enshrines our right to "peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Thus, police officers, National Guardsmen and active-duty soldiers are sworn to defend all "peaceable assemblers." "Peaceable assemblers" are exercising a constitutional right and are clearly not domestic enemies. Police, National Guardsmen, and active-duty soldiers who assault or kill "peaceable assemblers" are attacking the United States Constitution and may be defined as "domestic enemies."

And the constitutional right to "peaceably assemble" must of course apply to pro-life protestors who heckle pregnant women going into abortion clinics but certainly does not apply to rioters who set fire to police cars or loot department stores.

In a system with accountability, if orders from a governor, a commanding officer, or the president of the United States violate the First Amendment, then police, National Guardsmen, and active-duty soldiers must refuse those orders, as they have sworn first and foremost to "defend the United States Constitution."

Furthermore, police, National Guardsmen, and active-duty soldiers who violate citizens’ First Amendment Rights — with or without such orders from superiors — have not only betrayed their Oaths of Enlistment but also may be terminated, court-martialed, dishonorably discharged, and prosecuted for various crimes such as: use of excessive force, assault, manslaughter, murder, etc. Again, in a system with accountability.

Since 1776, there have been many protests in the United States, and many responses to protest by police and military. There have also been many First Amendment lawsuits regarding those responses. As noted in Part III of this essay, Congress voted that my arrest with 7,000 other protesters on May 3, 1971, was illegal and awarded cash settlements. There are also understandably many such lawsuits relating to the George Floyd protest already underway, as it was the largest in United States history.

One such lawsuit concerns the clearing of Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, on June 1. A phalanx including U.S. Park Police (USPP), U.S. Secret Service, D.C. National Guard, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Arlington County Police Department, U.S. Marshals, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) cleared this area of protesters. Subsequently President Trump walked across the street to give a short speech in front of St. John’s Church. As mentioned in Part V of this essay, the Insurrection Act was not invoked, but the good old 82nd Airborne was at the ready, stationed just outside city limits.

I think it is safe to assume that a key dispute in all the various lawsuits revolves around the meaning of the First Amendment’s word "peaceably." The Park Police reported that the protesters threw bricks, and The Washington Post reported they threw candy. So, the courts will just have to wait for the video to decide just how "peaceably" this protest was behaving, in order to determine if the police and military response was, as argued, an attack on the United States Constitution.

It's worthy to mention General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here. It’s probable some of the Lafayette Square phalanx report up the chain of command to him. After the dust settled on this confrontation, General Milley apologized for crossing the cleared-out street to go to the church.

Henry Seggerman managed Korea International Investment Fund, the oldest South Korean hedge fund, from 2001 until 2014. He is a regular columnist for the Korea Times and has also been a guest speaker, written for, or been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Bloomberg Television, Reuters and FinanceAsia — covering not only North and South Korea, but also Asia, as well as U.S. politics. Read Henry Seggerman's Reports — More Here.

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HenrySeggerman
In a system with accountability, if orders from a governor, a commanding officer, or the president of the United States violate the First Amendment, then police, National Guardsmen, and active-duty soldiers must refuse those orders,
insurrection, milley, constitutional
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2020-17-16
Thursday, 16 July 2020 04:17 PM
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