The mainstream media has universally condemned the protest at Brown this week, but they are grossly wrong in their understanding of what happened.
First: Free speech is for the people, not the government. The job of the government is to protect the right of the people to free speech. The government already has too many ways to get its message out, overt and covert. The government seems to lie freely, cover up its crimes daily≤ and try to squeeze all of the space away from whistle blowers and truth tellers. The government owns the microphones, the media seems to acquiesce, but the people must rise up strongly and fiercely and nonviolently to prevent the government from overstepping its bounds.
In this context think again about what happened at Brown. a behind the scenes donor wants to hear from a conservative proponent of violence against the people, the students hear about this, though not necessarily about the back door game being played in choosing him. The students petition the administration saying this is a really bad choice, the administration blows them off,. Then at the event the administration just sort of bumbles about. The speaker leaves with his tail between his legs and all across the world people opposed to the police state cheer.
Lets also put what was done in context in terms of the type of protest it was. If the students had marched on police department headquarters in NYC protesting the policy of stop and frisk, the NYPD would have beaten them with sticks, handcuffed them, denied them medical care. They have done this to protesters regularly for YEARS. The NYPD and its leadership have acted unconstitutionally for years.
Kelly then decides it is okay to come to Providence and spread the message that the ruling class thinks it is just fine to harass the poor and the people who do not look white enough. In other words he is a messenger of class war for the ruling class.
He comes to town, the protesters occupy the space. Is occupying that space any different from sitting in at a congressional office? Would the commentators have written so harshly of sitting in at a congressional office over something so egregious as blatant violations of the constitution? How about occupying the administration building at Brown when it does something egregious? Especially under the conditions that real progress on issues of justice at Brown usually happen only after the students do something bold and outrageous.
Thinking of what happened to Kelly as a protest is the wrong framing. It is an act of resistance. It is the same as the protesters going to Tahir square in Cairo to protest Mubarak and Morsi. You think if Mubarak had come to Tahir square the people would not have screamed at him and tried to shout him down? Under this context Kelly received mild treatment and the only thing that made this one different was the ruling class was caught by surprise, fumbled about, and have now started moaning about the evil protesters.
The shutting off of Commissioner Kelly’s microphone was an act of resistance that should be viewed for the resistance to government policy that it is and should be cheered.