The First Amendment would no longer apply in Oakland, if San Francisco Chronicle columnists Debra J. Saunders and Chip Johnson had their way.
Friday evening's “May Day for Freddie Gray” march in Oakland saw a particularly large amount of property damage, especially on Auto Row (a stretch of Broadway with numerous car dealerships), where dozens of windows and cars were smashed by protesters, and one car was set on fire. (The Sears Building in downtown also had its windows smashed and was tagged with the ominous message, “If you build it we will burn it.” The building is rumored to be a possible future site for Google offices.)
Property damage has long been a feature of evening protest marches in Oakland, where the protest culture is more insistent on an openness to “diversity of tactics” than here in San Francisco. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is undertaking a “review” of policing tactics on May Day, according to KTVU, but the Chron's columnists have a much more simple solution: toss out the Bill of Rights.
Saunders, whose term “protest brutality” invokes an awful false equivalency between the broken windows that resulted from the anti-police brutality protest and the broken spine that inspired it, says protests in Oakland should end at sundown:
If Schaaf wants a different outcome, she should tell the protest community this: When the sun goes down, go home. Make it easier for police to curb what I would call “protest brutality.”
Johnson, an Oakland resident, has even more restrictions in mind:
First off, any march or parade in Oakland — or any other city — requires a permit, whether it’s the annual Black Cowboy Parade, a Hells Angels funeral, or a mass gathering of protesters marching up and down the streets. No permit, no march.
Second, all marches provide a travel route to avoid creating traffic jams and chaos in the streets. So … no route, no march. Third, there are set times for the event, and no march goes past nightfall — ever again.
There should also be reasonable conditions set and enforced.
If you show up at a march with a shield or weapon, your march is over.
If you show up at a march with a mask on your face, either take off the mask or your march is over.
What, after all, is the value of the Constitution, when car windows are at stake?