Letter to the Editor

Marlena Chertock

Published in the Nov. 4 edition of The Diamondback.

In response to the Oct. 31 staff editorial, “Occupational hazard,” permission should not have to be granted before a protest or demonstration on this university’s campus, on other college campuses, in the United States or in the world. If the protest remains nonviolent, there is no reason to require prior permission.

Requiring a movement to get permission first is the complete opposite of what a movement stands for. That would be a childlike protest — “Mommy, can I revolt today?”

Going against authority is the essential part of a movement or revolution. Movements grow out of unrest and unjust circumstances. The sit-ins of the 1960s and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 were carried out without the permission of a higher authority by people who felt they were being wronged. If they had asked for police permission, their demonstrations may have been stopped before they began.

Requiring a movement to provide advance notice is absurd. This greatly constrains the power of a movement in its beginning stages and squelches the passion of its members. If one’s rights are restricted, or in the case of the Occupy movement, if greed and the status quo of the system is limiting one’s voice and ability to progress, then he or she should not feebly ask for permission to protest. Protesters should stand up, grab some posters and make their cause heard.

This regulation where authorities want to be made aware of protests before they happen challenges the meaning of a protest. It is one step closer to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where people follow methodical and approved methods of interaction, where straying from acceptable behavior results in severe punishment.

Asking Occupy UMD to be a mature movement and take the short amount of time it takes to fill out the online form to reserve space and request permission seems in violation of the people’s freedom to assemble. But disregarding this possible unconstitutionality, it is impossible for the Occupy UMDmovement to be mature when it may not even be one month old. Don’t repress their potential before they grow larger than the 10 members acceptable for police to allow them to continue demonstrating.

Occupy UMD, keep on occupying, without permission.

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About Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock's first collection of poetry, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, and WTOP. Her poems and fiction has appeared in The Deaf Poets Society, Moonsick Magazine, and Paper Darts.

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