The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel for three days, beginning today. It will feature a number of conservative speakers, from politicians (including three of the four presidential candidates) to columnists and conservative celebrities. Yet it may also “feature” something else as well: according to the Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markay, the “Occupy DC” offshoot of the OWS movement is planning to disrupt the meetings. How far will they go? “Speakers will be physically assaulted, not just verbally confronted,” a source told Heritage in an email.
Apparently the information was garnered by someone who attended a meeting of the Occupy DC group prior to their eviction from McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. last Saturday. In the midst of intermittent violence and heated exchanges, Park Police dispersed the crowd, confiscating a number of tents in the process. Occupiers were then prohibited from camping out there any longer. On Thursday, two days prior to their disbanding, the Occupiers were engaged in a strategy session regarding the use of tactics to disrupt, or even shut down, CPAC entirely.
What tactics? According to the source, who requested anonymity, protesters suggested pulling fire alarms in the hotel where the conference will take place, screaming “fire” during conference activities, “glitter-bombing” participants, cutting electrical power, and barricading entrances to the hotel. The source also identified members of the New Black Panther Party, who “said they would be disappointed if they didn’t get arrested and planned to ‘make it count,’” and another protester who warned that “Mitt [Romney] has Secret Service now, but [Newt] Gingrich and [Andrew] Breitbart don’t,” implying that the group might go after people they consider easier to confront–or perhaps assault.
Reportedly, most of their antics will take place on Saturday, the last day of the conference — because they don’t want to get in the way of unions who plan to protest on Thursday and Friday. “What do Wisconsin Governor SCOTT WALKER, presidential candidates MITT ROMNEY, NEWT GINGRICH, RICK SANTORUM and House Budget Committee Chair PAUL RYAN have in common?” asks the Washington, DC Metro Council of the AFL-CIO on its website. “They all represent the greed of the wealthy 1% and they’ll all be at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference. WE’VE HEARD ENOUGH FROM THE 1%! Join the rally featuring tents, an inflatable fat cat, puppets, ‘candidate Walmart,’ and more to LET THE VOICES OF THE 99% BE HEARD!”
The unions have scheduled two official protests at noon and 5 p.m. Friday. The 5 p.m. demonstration will coincide with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s speech. “It’s all in good fun, but with a very serious message in terms of representing the 99 percent,” said AFL-CIO organizer Chris Garlock. He also said he expects the protest to be “non-confrontational.”
Garlock has a short memory. In November, the very same Occupy D.C. protesters stormed a dinner held by Americans for Prosperity at Washington Convention Center. During that “non-confrontational” episode, Dolores Broderson, age 78, who had ridden 11 hours on a bus from Detroit to attend, was pushed down the stairs. She ended up in a hospital emergency room with a bloody nose and bruises on her hand and leg. There was also a “pre-planned assault on the Convention Center” as described by an eyewitness who claimed the mob was “hell-bent on shoving their way through the front doors.”
Joining the AFL-CIO will be a group called Change to Win (CTW), an SEIU-led federation that broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005. CTW staffer Trina Tocca has posted a notice of the protest on her Facebook page. Thus, two union groups will be joining Occupy D.C. in their efforts to disrupt the conference.
That the unions would align themselves with Occupy D.C. is disturbing. According to the Occupy D.C. website, the CPAC event is characterized as “another gathering of bigots, media mouthpieces, corrupt politicians, and their 1 percent elite puppet masters.” Its purpose is to “parade and attempt to perpetuate the radical right wing’s imperialist ideologies with keynote speakers, movies and banquets dedicated to pursuing its racist, sexist, patriarchal and exploitative agenda.”
Furthermore, the Occupy D.C.-ers are particularly bothered by scheduled discussions titled “From Fidel to Chavez: How Do We Stop the Resurgence of Socialism in Latin America?” “Is the ‘Arab Spring’ Good or Bad for America?” “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the Pursuit of Diversity is Weakening the American Identity” and “Islamic Law in America: How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out.” They are also upset by what they characterize as “frequent bloviation” regarding “American exceptionalism.” Their website claims their “mission” is to “Occupy CPAC. Create as much non-violent resistance as possible, and make this a conference the attendees will never forget.”
Unlike their assault on the Americans for Prosperity Washington Convention Center, the protesters are facing a different set of logistics here. The Marriott Wardman Park is on private property, and is set back from the street. Thus, any attempt to “occupy” CPAC meetings would likely result in a confrontation with DC police before the protesters could engineer any serious disruptions. Furthermore, the hotel itself, along with the American Conservative Union (ACU), which hosts the annual conference, claim they have their own security. Both groups say that security has been increased, and they are “confident” in their ability to deal with any threats.
However, the protesters and the unions have accounted for these obstacles. Although the union denies it, an attendee of the Thursday Occupy D.C. meeting, who claimed to handle relations with labor organizations, said the AFL-CIO had booked rooms for Occupiers at the Marriott Hotel, with the intention of allowing them to bypass security measures at the door. Occupy representatives from American University and George Washington University claim they will register their members for CPAC, which would allow full access to the conference. They also claim they’ll produce counterfeit credentials for non-students who want to join the protest. Still others intend to adorn themselves with “Ron Paul 2012â€³ gear because they believe Paul supporters “generally look like hippies,” and they won’t have to dress any differently in order to attend. That last bit may backfire: Paul will not be attending this year’s conference.
Barring outright violence, what will assuredly be on display at “Occupy CPAC” will be the Left’s fervent attempt to quash the free speech and assembly rights of their political enemies. This is a boilerplate leftist tactic that has been employed innumerable times, especially on college campuses. If one is a betting man, bet the farm that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s speech, already on the protesters’ “must attend” agenda, will be four-star opportunity for those who wish to suppress Mr. Walker’s right to speak.
He won’t be the only one. All three Republican presidential candidates appearing at CPAC have been shouted down at campaign stops this year. Occupy Tampa protesters attempted to disrupt a speech by Rick Santorum in Florida. The same thing happened to Mitt Romney in Iowa, and Newt Gingrich at Harvard University. Former Republican presidential candidates speaking at the event were also shouted down this year. Herman Cain was heckled in Tennessee, and Michele Bachmann was forced offstage by Occupy Charleston protesters in South Carolina. Numerous other CPAC speakers have been subjected to such tactics as well.
Ironically, the Occupy crowd invariably claims their rights have been suppressed whenever the numerous cities they’ve occupied grow tired of their long and often illegal encampments, and force them to disperse. Their intent to disrupt CPAC demonstrates how oblivious they are to their own hypocrisy. In the Occupier/Big Labor world view, they are entitled to endless free speech rights, to demand more and more from the public square, even as fiscal budgets have been busted protecting their rights, their monopolization of common spaces have deprived local residents of their rightful use, and much of their ill-advised, disgusting, anti-Semitic and criminal behavior has been largely “overlooked” by politicians fearful of being labeled unsympathetic and/or oppressive. Meanwhile, their political enemies are entitled to nothing. Conservative free speech and assembly rights are there to be suppressed, trampled on and terrorized at all costs. Tolerating the promulgation of ideas that are antithetical to leftist orthodoxy is simply a liability the mobocracy cannot afford.
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