When Good Messages Get a Black Eye

This headline was indeed enough to make any sane person’s blood boil. I dove into reading this prepared to be shocked and angered. Well, I started reading and couldn’t understand how any judge could do such a thing in this country.

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction


By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet.

Posted January 29, 2008.

Protesters who re-enacted one of Blackwater’s worst civilian massacres in Iraq got jail time, while the real killers remain free.

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

The arrest of the activists and the subsequent five days they spent locked up in jail is more punishment than any Blackwater mercenaries have received for their deadly actions against Iraqi civilians. “The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what makes for an orderly and peaceable world,” said Steve Baggarly, one of the protest organizers. “In fact, U.S. law and courts stand idly by while the U.S. military and private armies like Blackwater have killed, maimed, brutalized and destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.”

By this point, I’m appalled. This just made no sense to my mind. THEN I continued reading:

A month after the Nisour Square massacre, on Oct. 20, a group of about 50 activists gathered outside Blackwater’s gates in Moyock, N.C. There, they reenacted the Nisour Square shooting and staged a “die-in,” involving a vehicle painted with bullet marks and blood. The activists stained their clothing with fake blood and dramatized the deadly shooting spree. Some of the demonstrators marked Blackwater’s large welcome sign — with the company’s bear claw in a sniper scope logo — with red hand prints. The demonstrators believed these “would be a much more appropriate logo for Blackwater,” according to Baggarly. “We’re all responsible for what is happening in Iraq. We all have bloody hands.” It took only moments for the local police to respond to the protest, the first ever at Blackwater’s headquarters. In the end, seven were arrested.

The symbolism was stark: Re-enact a Blackwater massacre, go to jail. Commit a massacre, walk around freely and perhaps never go to jail. All seven were charged with criminal trespassing, six of them with an additional charge of resisting arrest and one with another charge of injury to real property. “We feel like Blackwater is trespassing in Iraq,” Baggarly later said. “And as for injuring property, they injure men, women and children every day.” The activists were jailed for five days and eventually released pending trial.

Unfortunately, the good message these folks were trying to get across was lost the moment they “trespassed on private property” and “defaced the company’s logo”. Granted, Blackwater is injuring people and property in Iraq; but that is not justification for then turning around and breaking the laws of this land to make your point.

While I admire the protestors for their stand, I cannot condone deliberately breaking our own laws that you are demanding others also obey, in order to get a message out. The minute you do that you have lowered yourself to the level of the one you are attempting to condemn.

So now, the protesters come out of this looking bad; their message is totally lost; and Blackwater, whose truly guilty of crimes against humanity walks away clean as the innocent victim.

The better way would have been to have mock signs with the company’s logo and the bloody handprint on it; and to hold the demonstration on public property as close as to the company in question as you can get.

This is why you don’t allow your emotions to rule, why you need to keep them in check, think things through, make sure your stand is in fact on the right side of the law. Then and only then does your message come through loud and clear.

Read FULL STORY here.

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~ by swfreedomlover on February 4, 2008.

6 Responses to “When Good Messages Get a Black Eye”

  1. I have to agree with you here. Had they not defaced the sign I don’t think they would have been arrested. But, they did. That ruined their good intentions. One still cannot deface another’s property with impunity in this country. And doing it to a pet project of King george’s should have clued them in.

  2. The question is this: What were they convicted of? Defacing the sign? Or something else? Well, the judge actually convicted them of trespass. No big deal there. He did not give jail time or a fine. Note that the “defacing” is always done with water-soluble paints during these protests so that it can be washed off with soap and water.

    In the end this reminds me most of the lunch counter protests in the American South during the apartheid era. Those protesters were arrested for trespassing also for going to a “whites-only” lunch counter, sitting down, and peacefully waiting to be served. The question is whether justice, or blind obedience to the law, is the best way towards a better society. Where the law and justice conflict, the Freedom Riders and lunch counter protesters took the side of justice. Were they wrong?

  3. I understand the trespass part. But not defacing the property, I don’t care IF it is water soluble paint or not. And it’s not just that it’s a law; it’s a matter of doing unto others what you want done to you. I look at things like that when judging my reaction.

    The lunch counter protests in the south accomplished their goal, got their message out, without destroying, defacing the property. And that is the point.

    These protesters were fine with what they were doing as far as I’m concerned, UNTIL they defaced the sign (temporary or not).

    At least that’s how I see it.

  4. yeah but you are all forgetting that they stood for something bigger then a sign. the sign can be replaced, being in jail is no joke. its not fun and it is not right. a good judge would see this and say “hey you know those people are right you guys kill people and thats wrong forget the sign why do you have a private army in your backyard? since when do we trust regular people with jobs that we can train military officials do? these guys are supposed to be security guards not military generals.

  5. No I’m not forgetting. MY whole point was that breaking the law to make a point destroys your message. It’s not a question of it being only a sign they vandalized; it’s the issue that they vandalized private property, someone else’s property. You can’t justify a wrong with a wrong.

    That’s as bad as pro-lifers attacking and killing a doctor who performs abortions…..you don’t claim to be FOR life and then take one you don’t like.

    I’m no fan of blackwater in case you couldn’t tell, but lowering yourself to the criminal level destroys your message.

  6. This argument is flawed. Actions in another country are not punishable under US law. Illegally gathering without a permit to protest, and damaging private property, is most certainly illegal. I love the men at Blackwater. They are professional, well mannered, and worth more as people than most of you. You should all remain quiet on subjects you fail to have full information on, and further, if it was me…I would have opened fire on ANYONE in Iraq that posed a threat (real or perceived) to me, my fellow soldiers, or the people I am protecting. That is reality in war, people die. Deal with it, and stop whining. Too bad they didn’t have the ability to shoot the people that defaced the sign…that would have been worth the bullets.

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