Cover Art
Letter To Worcester City Council
 
Part of a pamphlet series titled
"Views of camp: The Occupy Movement Through An Old Man's Eyes"
by Stone Riley
 
Dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
the great political genius of my country in my time.

 
Link: The menu of these pamphlets
Link: The author's main website: www.StoneRiley.com
(C) Stone Riley 2012 all rights reserved

Note:
Written and sent in November 2011 soon after the Occupy Movement began
(the pictures and commentary added the following spring)
by Stone Riley.


The Letter

Subject: Requesting that the city have a friendly relationship with Occupy Worcester
From: Robert "Stone" Riley
Date: November 18, 2011
 

It seems to me that the people of Occupy Worcester are doing their duty, as best they understand it, in a national emergency.  By stifling them, the City of Worcester is doing a disservice to the country.

 

Like in countless places across this country, they are assembling peacefully and calling our community to an open democratic discussion, so we can all together figure out what's wrong and how to fix it.

See the discussion of the Constitution below.
 

There is no doubt that the emergency is real.  What fool would deny it?  But are they at fault for volunteering in this crisis to do the best they can?  Anyone who says that knows nothing about our heritage.

 

So if that's basically okay, what charges are brought against them?

They sometimes set a camp in public parks or parade in public streets, saying this is necessary to get a good discussion of our problems going.

 

And their accusers say they're not allowed to choose what practices are necessary to their national duty, if they violate one dot or squiggle of the city's regulations for ordinary life.

 

Of course the U.S. Constitution says that's nonsense.  And of course it is far more important, far more fundamental to the way we govern ourselves, than those city ordinances.

See the discussion of the Constitution below.
 

The Constitution clearly indicates in its "to peaceably assemble" and its "freedom of speech" that we are expected to do exactly what the Occupy people are doing when there's serious doubt and trouble.  That's in the Bill of Rights.

See the discussion of the Constitution below.
 

And then the Fourteenth Amendment, after the Civil War, made it perfectly clear that local governments have no business preventing U.S. people from going about their national business in this way.  You are simply out of order when you do that.

See the discussion of the Constitution below.
 

Because of all of this, so we can all talk together about our terrible situation and figure out what to do, I implore you on the City Council to form a friendly relationship with Occupy Worcester.  Stop harassing them.  I ask this for our children and their children and their children.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Robert "Stone" Riley


Referenced Parts Of
The United States Constitution

The Constitution is the supreme law of the U.S.A. and so it always overrides any state or city laws that try to contradict it.  And that principle has been seen as absolutely solid ever since the Civil War ended in 1864, because it was a major issue in the war.

Here are the parts of the Constitution that are mentioned in my letter to Worcester City Council, plus some information about the history.

The Bill Of Rights

The Bill Of Rights is a set of very important protections that were added in 1791, just after the Constitution was officially adopted.  They were added because people demanded them.

Article 3: Congress * shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

* Note: This limitation on Congress also means a state; it was extended as you will see below.

After The Civil War

The main issue that was settled by the Civil War is whether or not White people are legally allowed to hold Black people prisoner and torture them to make them work.  It turned out that this is not okay.  But in addition, the pro-slavery faction claimed that their state laws could override national law on the slavery question and any other question.  This idea was ended by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Article 14, Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State * shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;   nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

* Note:  "No State" also means "No City"; the city government is part of state government.


{ End Of Essay }