Protestors Should Pay the Bills for Their Unruly Behavior
that the agriculture conference is over and all the foreign officials and
annoying protestors have left the capital, city officials are reflecting
on how it went, and what might be done differently in the future.
The first thing suggested by Mayor Heather Fargo and City Councilman Steve Cohn was that next time there is a convention that might provoke a protest, they are going to try to get more money out of the conventioneers to pay for security.
So, if militant protestors decide they dont like your convention -- even if its a conference on something as seemingly innocuous as growing crops -- they can raise a ruckus and youll have to cancel your plans or pay an extra city fee, even though you did nothing wrong.
Under the idea mentioned by Fargo and Cohn, the protestors wouldnt pay an extra dime, even though they would be the parties responsible for the citys extra security costs.
Remember, the foreign agriculture officials werent the ones who vandalized vehicles, businesses and newspaper racks last month with spray-painted graffiti. Nope, those criminal acts were perpetrated by the dirty, nonsensical young people who were in town to protest the use of technology to grow more food with less expense and fewer chemicals.
Nor were the conventioneers responsible for assaulting police officers, breaking windows with slingshots, overturning garbage bins, illegally blocking traffic, exposing themselves on the Capitol steps, trespassing or carrying weapons fashioned out of light bulbs filled with flammable liquid. Again, all of these crimes were committed by the dense, smelly protestors.
The tab for the law enforcement needed to contain these anarchist-leaning criminals is expected to top $2 million, which isnt a welcomed expense at any time, and especially not when the city, county and state governments are swimming in red ink due to past overspending.
It makes sense for city officials to search for innovative ways to protect taxpayers from this type of expense in the future, but they ought to be concentrating their collection efforts on the real problem -- irresponsible protestors.
Civil disobedience is one thing, but the new breed of leftist protestors is prone to taking things to extremes, even when theyre just protesting against a method of growing corn. The government should respond in kind, with some extreme new financial penalties for those who are arrested and organizers who conspire to commit protest-related crimes. The ones who cant pay can be sentenced to lengthy periods of community service, cleaning up graffiti and roadside litter.
At the same time, there must be safeguards to protect the rights of legitimately non-violent protestors who peaceably assemble to air their grievances.
Already, the city has an ordinance on the books that is overzealous in its laudable effort to make sure protestors dont carry weapons. The new ordinance, which dictates what sizes of wood slats may be used in the construction of protest signs, recently snared two peaceful pranksters who joined the anti-agriculture crowd with signs mocking the protest.
According to a report in The Sacramento Bee, the two jokers did nothing more than make signs protesting the misspelling of vegetable names -- such as by the rock band Korn -- and calling for the independence of the fictional planet of Naboo, of Star Wars fame. Because their signposts were too wide, they were arrested, taken to jail and given citations which could result in fines if they dont prevail in court.
The citys responsibility is to repeal ridiculous ordinances which stifle peaceful free speech and make it more difficult to schedule conventions, while enacting new laws to get tough on protestors who try to make their point with violence and vandalism rather than logical persuasion.
Kline is a Sacramento native who has been writing about seniors' issues
since 1991. He has served as Spectrum's editor for the past five years
a period that has seen the paper receive awards from the California Newspapers
Publishers' Association and National Mature Media Awards program.