The militarization of police response to protests, the so-called Miami Model, is itself a threat to public safety, often a greater one than the protesters it is intended to counter. Not only does this kind of response lead to an erosion of First Amendment liberties under the guise of health, safety, and public order, but the heightened police response is in and of itself a violently provocative act by the state. Peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders are always inevitably caught-up and injured in such actions. Deploying a response that is excessive in the majority of situations we see it being used in today causes the state to be the cause of harm, not the solution to it. The unfettered use of these tactics is the greatest increased risk to public safety during the vast majority of protests. Such police actions also undermines public trust, nullifies attempts at negotiation and engagement with the protesters, and sends a visually powerful message that the government is reneging on the social contracts established in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
We call for a law that curtails the rights of the States to conduct such actions without meeting certain conditions, or be in violation of Federal law. Such a law should require State Governors (or duly appointed proxies) to publicly declare that a riot or other violent uprising is underway and an official state of emergency is in effect before heavily armored and armed police may be used to respond to protest actions, and said official to be held formally and legally responsible for the outcome of the police response. Riot helmets, shields, pepper spray, bean-bag guns, rubber bullets, batons, tasers, firehoses, and so on should be specifically reserved for such delcared emergencies, and under any protest-response situation officers' covering of badge numbers, nametags, or faces in a manner that renders them obscured shall be a criminal offense. (And live ammunition, of course, shall be stipulated not to be used except in the case of lethally armed assailants converging on officers or protesters with intent to kill.) Furthermore, the law should contain language which mandates that police agencies have a Constitutional duty to protect the rights and personages of those who are peacefully assembled, and that even if protestors are nonviolently violating trespassing, obstruction, camping, or related laws their arrests shall be conducted with the minimum amount of force necessary.
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