Holy crap, right? This is America? No dancing allowed? Do we live in a police state? Did Reverend Shaw Moore get elected to Congress? What the hell? I thought Cheney and his jackbooted thugs had been disbanded.
That looks like a flash mob that hadn't really set up, getting shut down (and then thrown down) by Park Police. And did you catch that threat implied in the sergeant's statement, that "you might end up in jail for 48 hours"? And then the body slams, and... Oh my god!
But, you know, there's an old saying about every story having two sides. And that's a hell of an expensive camera that keeps showing up in frame: flash mobs don't tend to be using high-end professional video equipment. So I did a little research. First step: the video is branded "Adam vs the Man," and the title gives you the name "Adam Kokesh." So I looked him up.
Turns out that Kokesh is a kind of a media whore. He was a marine, and during his first tour in Iraq, brought back a war souvenir, which is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Now, Wikipedia quotes a story from the Newhouse News Service saying that because of that, he "was demoted to corporal and soon thereafter discharged honorably with a re-enlistment code that basically said, 'you can't re-enlist.'" He then joined the Individual Ready Reserve, which isn't a full-time active duty military slot, but is still in the military. Which means that he was still under the UCMJ.
So he wore his uniform to a rally protesting the Iraq War, which is also a violation of the UCMJ (he's allowed to attend political events, he just isn't allowed to be in uniform - the military doesn't want to appear to support either side of any debate). Got in trouble for that, but they went easy on him.
He started getting publicity for high-profile protests: a squad-sized "occupation patrol" of DC, to give Americans a taste of what it's like; holding up a large sign at the Alberto Gonzalez hearing, saying that Gonzalez had said "I don't know" 74 times; getting arrested for trespassing in Fort Benning; stuff like that. He rode his internet celebrity into a local libertarian radio show here in Albuquerque, which was picked up by the Russia Today television network.
(And, you know, really? Russia Today? I can understand making a living, and I, personally, don't have a problem with RT, but you can see where the image problem kicks in there, right?)
So, that's him.
Now, in 2008, a small libertarian flash mob gathered at the Jefferson Memorial to celebrate the birthday of Jefferson. In breaking them up, one woman was arrested. Her suit was tossed out, with the judge ruling in a 26 page report that:
"The purpose of the memorial is to publicize Thomas Jefferson's legacy, so that critics and supporters alike may contemplate his place in history. The Park Service prohibits all demonstrations in the interior of the memorial, in order to maintain 'an atmosphere of calm, tranquillity, and reverence.' Prohibiting demonstrations is a reasonable means of ensuring a tranquil and contemplative mood at the Jefferson Memorial.""Plus, an organized protest is required to get a permit," the judge did not add.
And two weeks ago, the US Court of Appeals affirmed that judgement.
(Remember that thing about permits, by the way. And the phrase "organized protests.")
And the five protesters were taken to the police station, charged with demonstrating without a permit, then released a short time later.
Is this a stupid law? I think so. Did the police overreact? Well, hell yes. They didn't need to body-slam anybody - that was over the top. But I've done crowd control: they needed to move fast and shut this down before it escalated: the longer it lasts, the more people join in. And everything can get much worse, very quickly.
And were the Park Police placed in an untenable position? Looks that way to me.