As I wrote in a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer published today under the headline: “Punish All Rioters”:
An article in the Sunday Inquirer said that federal prosecutors are discussing not prosecuting all who participated in the fatal US Capitol insurrectional assault on Jan. 6. The reason: Fears of “overloading” the courts.
Balderdash. During the 1967 MOBE march and demonstration by several hundred thousand antiwar activists on the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War, the feds didn’t hesitate about arresting, charging, and then busing me and 700 other activists to federal prison in Occoquan, Va. There we were held and arraigned over the next few days with most, like me, released with minor penalties like my five-day suspended misdemeanor trespass sentence and $25 fine.
Surely today’s justice system can handle these far more serious 800 Capitol insurrectionist cases. While not all violent, all suspects clearly illegally entered or broke into the nation’s Capitol, disrupting Congress. Charge them appropriately, let them plead, and take it from there. The courts won’t be “overloaded.”
Take a look at the lower photo above showing the image the Inquirer ran with my letter of the 2006 Capitol building attackers, girded for violence and swarming the Capitol Police (who are showing amazing restraint) and consider how most of those wannabe insurrections may now perhaps escape any prosecution as federal prosecutors express concern about “congesting” the court system.
Now take a close look at top image above showing the peacefully seated protesters “occupying” the front mall entrance to the Pentagon in ’67. You can clearly see the confrontational federal troops threatening the protesters with their rifles, and also a white-helmeted federal marshal gratuitously and violently beating protesters’ about their heads and shoulders with his wooden baton as they just sit calmly in place. Some 700 or more of us peaceful protesters were eventually yanked away by those marshals and were beaten as we were dragged to vans and buses to be hauled off to a federal prison in Occoquan, Virginia. All those of us who were snatched away were charged with various offenses, often grossly inflated. Many of those I shared a dormitory cell with were injured during their arrests, some seriously, and I only saw perhaps at most 100 of those arrested at the time. (For a contemporaneous account of my experience being busted and jailed at the ’67 Pentagon demonstration, click here.)
Meanwhile, while a Capitol Police cop was beaten and killed in the 2021 Capitol insurrection attempt, and one insurrectionist was shot by Capitol Police as she was trying to break into the Hall of the Senate, and while three others died in the melee, no troops guarding the Pentagon, as far as I know, were injured or killed by the peaceful 1967 protesters.
Clearly it’s a case of different strokes for different folks. Peaceful leftists were and still are considered far more serious and deserving of punishment when they protest than are violent and even murderous rightist fascists and wannabe insurrectionists.