(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/06/RB-pic-3.gif)United Nations officials are using American taxpayers’ money, which subsidizes UN operations, to put their noses into the treatment of Occupy Wall Street protesters in various cities across the United States.
In a letter written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Maina Kiai, UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the UN officials demanded an explanation of “the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall.”
The letter, sent in December 2011, was publicly released last week in connection with the 20th annual United Nations Human Rights Council meeting. It complained of “forced removal” by law enforcement officials in various cities, including New York, Portland, Seattle, Denver and Oakland, of “unwilling protesters from the public areas in which they were located.” The letter theorized that the primary reason for the “forced removal” was “related to their dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Innocent civilians are being massacred every day in places like Syria and Sudan, which the UN is helpless to prevent. Yet these special rapporteurs focus their attention instead on an internal domestic matter that is none of their business – how local law enforcement officials in the United States decide to deal with lawless behavior. Moreover, the allegations they cite are way off the mark. The police across our country dealt with the utmost patience and restraint against increasingly criminal and violent elements that were taking over the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not to mention having to deal with the public nuisance and public health problems caused by unsanitary conditions in the “public areas” where the occupiers encamped, which were encroaching on the rights of residents and businesses in the affected areas.
Let’s take New York City, for example. Protesters began to “occupy” the quasi-public Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011. The park is technically privately owned but is dedicated to public use. The police did not immediately intervene, declaring that it was up to the owner, Brookfield Office Properties, to make and implement rules for the park’s use. A spokesperson for Brookfield expressed concern, but in fact the park owner took no steps at first to evict the occupiers from the park:
Zuccotti Park is intended for the use and enjoyment of the general public for passive recreation. We are extremely concerned with the conditions that have been created by those currently occupying the park and are actively working with the City of New York to address these conditions and restore the park to its intended purpose.
On October 6, 2011, Brookfield issued a statement which said, “Sanitation is a growing concern… the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16th and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels.” Nevertheless, despite plenty of provocations by the occupiers against the police who were trying to keep the peace in the area, the occupiers were still permitted to stay put.
During the month that followed, Zuccotti Park, which the occupiers had taken over completely with large tents and the like, became a breeding ground of crime, including alleged rapes and other assaults. The New York occupiers shared such lawless behavior in common with their comrades in other cities across the country.
Finally, in the early morning of November 15, 2011 – nearly two months after the occupation had started – the police moved in to clear out the occupiers from Zuccotti Park. The action was meant to halt the increasingly dangerous around-the-clock occupation of the park that prevented other members of the public from using it for recreational purposes. However, the occupiers were not barred from returning without their tents and sleeping bags to make their views known through peaceful demonstrations.
Here is how New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained why his patience with the occupiers had run out:
Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others. The majority of protesters have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority has not been – and as the number of protesters has grown, this has created an intolerable situation. Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.
As usual, the United Nations has butt in where it does not belong. Moreover, while saying in their letter to Secretary of State Clinton that they were not prejudging the accuracy of the information they received indicating a violation of the occupiers’ rights, the UN special rapporteurs repeated over and over again the occupiers’ false accusations. They focused their letter on allegations that the police used disproportionate, unnecessary action and even violence to disperse or remove “peaceful” protesters, without even once acknowledging the possibility that some of the so-called “peaceful” protesters were infringing on other peoples’ rights and committing criminal acts.
The UN special rapporteurs do not understand what they were supposedly appointed to protect. Of course, that should be no surprise considering that they are reporting to the misnamed travesty known as the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly do not mean that one group of demonstrators can completely take over, with permanent encampments, a space dedicated to public use and turn it into their own private law-free zone to do what they like, excluding other members of the public from using the space for other legitimate purposes.
The UN special rapporteurs’ nonsensical letter does not deserve a reply from the U.S. government other than to tell them to get their facts straight and mind their own business.
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