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PLATFORM : The Right to Protest

March 26, 1993|Alhambra attorney R. SAMUEL PAZ believes that attempts to prevent violence after the verdicts in the Rodney King beating trial could suppress rights.

The current high-profile media blitz of police and military preparation for riots has a clear message. City Councilman Nate Holden crystallized the message when he said that "young people should be kept off the streets to prevent trouble during the current trial of the four police officers and during the upcoming trial of those charged with attacking trucker Reginald O. Denny and others."

Maybe Holden and those who are quick to encourage suppression of peaceful protest have forgotten the television images of the 1963 protests in Birmingham, Ala., where police attacked demonstrators with dogs and fire hoses. Maybe they have forgotten the Mississippi summer when Klansmen led by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price murdered civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Hopefully, they recall the nearly 1,000 trumped-up arrests, 35 shooting incidents, 30 homes or churches bombed and 80 civil rights workers bloodied, attacked and beaten during that summer.

When the verdict is read in the trial of the four LAPD cops, there is no doubt someone will protest. But will the National Guard be called out if thousands of pro-police demonstrators march in protest of the conviction of the four white officers? If these same protesters march to the steps of City Hall . . . will they be met with batons and rubber bullets?

Do we need to remind those who would suppress the right to protest that the officers are accused of violating Rodney King's constitutional rights?

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