LP: Colorado Springs Police Resort to Chemical Agents

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

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LP: Colorado Springs Police Resort to Chemical Agents

LIBERTARIAN PARTY of Colorado
"Limited Government - Individual Liberty - Personal Responsibility"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 15th, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Seebeck, Public Information Director
PHONE: (719) 382-9529
EMAIL: colorado@libertarianparty.us
WEB: http://www.lpcolorado.org/

POLICE USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS ON PEACE CROWD

COLORADO SPRINGS—Colorado Springs Police resorted to tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot gear to disperse a peaceful anti-war demonstration in Colorado Springs today. 34 people were arrested and charged with "failure to disperse," while 2 people were injured and treated at local hospitals.

The demonstration was organized by the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and was attended by an estimated 3000 people, including members of the Libertarian Party.

According to eyewitness reports, the CSPD resorted to riot tactics when they (the police) blocked off parts of Academy Boulevard while protesters were crossing the street to line it on either side. Police used the blocking off to unload the riot squad. Witnesses stated that the police reacted without warning, without provocation, and without any reason.

CSPD claims that the incident happened because they had to keep traffic moving and the protestors were blocking traffic. But it was the CSPD who shut down the street, so their claims cannot be true. The CSPD knew in advance that at least 1000 people were expected at this rally; they knew that this rally was one of over 200 in this nation and over 600 involving millions of people across all 7 continents (there was even a protest at Camp McMurdo in Antarctica); and they knew that the large volumes crossing Academy would necessarily cause traffic problems. Their response to this foreknowledge was tear gas and a riot squad.

To be fair, some of the protestors should have known to stay out of the streets as much as possible for their own safety, but their own actions are no excuse for the actions of the CSPD. One wrong does not justify the other, and there is no justification for using chemical weapons, especially on passive citizens exercising their First Amendment rights of Free Speech and Assembly.

It is utterly outrageous that the CSPD would show such little respect for the people and their Constitutional rights -- rights they swore to protect, not oppress. It is utterly outrageous that a peace rally ended with violence being instigated against peaceful protestors by the government. It is utterly outrageous that the CSPD reacts with violence instead of proper respect for the people they are charged with serving.

The Libertarian Party opposes foreign interventionism and abhors the use of force by governments and individuals, and calls for an immediate independent investigation into this deliberate assault on peaceful citizens by the CSPD. Using the color of law to deny constitutional rights is a federal criminal offense under USC 18-242, with penalties up to 10 years in prison and fines where injuries result or explosives (such as tear gas) are used. Sovereign immunity does not apply at all. These acts were deliberate and Justice is required.

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