As reported on earlier, Oakland city council passed an ordinance in the dead of night that allows city police officers to arrest protesters for carrying a so-called “tool of violence”, a deliberately vague description that could refer to anything, including hammers, wrenches, scissors or a simple belt buckle.
We are talking about the possession of a tool of violence, not the use of one.
The city council began debate on the ordinance after a violent protester assaulted an Oakland restaurant waiter with a hammer in the midst of Trayvon Martin protests – an act that is already illegal. Now, thanks to the Oakland city council, anyone who possesses an exposed hammer (or anything else deemed a “tool of violence) during a protest is breaking the law.
Of course we hope that local police use proper and due discretion when enforcing this nonsensical law. We expect that they will. But giving police wide reaching power under vague parameters to arrest virtually anyone in a protest is an obvious affront to law-abiding demonstrators and enhances the already-dangerous police state regulations in many American cities.
Oakland protesters no longer have to commit a crime to get arrested. Instead, simply possessing a tool that could be used to commit a crime, in the wide-reaching discretion of police, is all it takes to result in a trip downtown.
In the words of Oakland’s interim police chief, “The more opportunities we have to take enforcement action against people, the better it is.”
America has changed. The police state is growing. Stay safe, and stay vigilant.