A warning to Minnesota citizens: church members, steelworkers, office workers, students, environmentalists, schoolteachers, retirees and others. Exercising your right to free speech, even at a permitted event, may be dangerous to your health.
Warren Goldstein's Nov. 26 Commentary page piece about attacks on free trade opponents in Miami sums up fairly well the degree of military buildup and intimidation that faced demonstrators. I attended -- or attempted to attend -- the rally and march on Nov. 20, where peaceful citizens from the above-mentioned walks of life were confronted by this huge and menacing force at every turn.
Why? Because we object to trade agreements that threaten our democracy, our jobs and our environment.
Minnesotans now in a holiday mood may feel far from the distant events in Miami. But beyond the 300 or so people who made the trek from here, we are connected: Minnesota taxpayers helped to fund the riot police.
Federal tax dollars -- some of which came from Minnesota -- to the tune of $8.5 million were a big part of the approximately $11 million spent on security.
It makes me feel a little funny to think that I've paid taxes that in this direct and tangible way work against my freedom of speech. It makes me feel even stranger and more than a little scared knowing that the $8.5 million was shaved off the $87 billion intended to fight terrorism in Iraq.
As Goldstein says, in Miami, "all protesters were potential terrorists."
How long before more teachers, office workers, church groups, environmentalists and other ordinary folk are targeted in this ever-expanding war on terrorism?
Deborah Alper, of St. Paul, is a gardener and retired French teacher.
© Star Tribune 2003