He thumbs his nose at the Constitution: As a Philadelphian and a member of the R2K Legal Collective, which provided legal support to the protesters and victims of police abuse during and after the 2000 Republican National Convention, when John Timoney was the police commissioner here, I am not surprised to read that he continues to hold in contempt the First Amendment right of freedom of expression and civilian oversight of the police ("Timoney's Urban Warfare," Tristram Korten, December 25). I also saw Timoney's unconstitutional tactics during the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002, when he served as a security consultant.
As soon as I heard that Timoney was going to be chief of police in Miami during the FTAA meeting, I and several other former members of R2K Legal contacted lawyers and other legal activists in Miami to warn them of the Timoney Method: criminalize legitimate protest, make random and groundless arrests, and then lie to the media and the courts about what happened. When police cracked down in Miami, the only surprise was that Timoney succeeded in surpassing his past atrocities with wanton use of tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters and even on Miami residents who just happened to be on the street.
What you will probably see over the next year in Miami, and what we have seen in both Philadelphia and New York, is that these stories of violent protesters and brave police officers will turn out to be total fabrications by Timoney's public-relations staff. When those arrested get to court, the real picture of what happened in the street will emerge and the criminal cases will fall apart. In both Philadelphia and New York, more than 90 percent of those arrested were cleared of any wrongdoing, revealing a clear pattern of systematic false arrests. I expect to see the same in Miami.
I would like to cite Benjamin Franklin on this matter: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." These words have never been more relevant than they are today. We ignore them at our peril. Today the police arrest protesters, but tomorrow they will be coming after you and there will be no one left to protest.