Authorities quietly finding ways to revoke the right to assemble

protesters in orange jumpsuits parade in front of whitehouse blanketed in snow.
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According to Steven Rosenfeld of Alternet, authorities have five tactics that will be used against protesters in the coming year. These tactics are found in “the main pages from the anti-protest playbook being fine-tuned by municipal officials in advance of 2012 protests.” 1. Expanding permit requirements:

Municipalities — and not just Charlotte, South Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention will be held, and Tampa, Florida, where the Republican National Convention will be held — are adopting local ordinances requiring protesters to apply for permits months or weeks in advance, even if they haven’t unveiled all of their rules for the events. That idea is not only to prevent spontaneous assembly, but also to create deterrents, leading to tactic two: charging protesters for exercising their rights.

2. Charging protesters for municipal costs:

In supposedly liberal cities, such as San Francisco and Syracuse, New York, city halls have told protest groups they have to pay for the costs of (unwanted) police escorts and other fees to discourage marches.

3. Demonizing protesters in pre-event press conferences:

…smear tactics not only justify spending vast sums of public money on policing, but they also deter peaceful people from coming out to join the protest

4. Creating exclusion zones and segregating protesters:

The sidewalk and camping restrictions are part of a trend of declaring larger areas of cities off-limits to protesters… “Exclusion zones are appalling,” (Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee.) said. “We completely oppose and do not negotiate for any type of pens or pits in which people can stand. Our view is that people have the right to be on the streets and sidewalks and it is not a compromisable right. But that is definitely what you are going to see this year.”

5. Mass arrests and punitive detention:

As many Occupy protesters learned last fall, the police have the bullhorns, handcuffs, pepper spray, waiting vans and jail cells at their disposal if they want to conduct sweeps, and use trap and detain tactics.

As much as the authorities try, there are some things that they cannot control.

The first is the number of people who will protest—whether it is in local Occupy protests or national political events. When enough people take to the streets, police cannot arrest everyone. Nor can they control the media from covering police overreach and excessive force.