Chris Ford


As the twenty-first century gets underway, governmental authorities appear to be undertaking increasingly unfriendly measures against citizens who take to the streets to influence policymaking. In some jurisdictions, for example, courts have given authorities the green light to stifle speech by limiting access to public spaces. In one recent case involving the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, a district court judge seemed more worried about the condition of the grass in Central Park than the right of the citizenry to gather in a public space and conduct a rally. Particularly in this age of globalized media outlets and big-money political campaigns, which in concert tend to considerably constrain the range of debate, an important component of the health of American democracy is the general public's ability to make their grievances known by taking to the streets without undue governmental hindrance. The general public represents that vast majority who lack the means to convey their message via the media or directly to lawmakers.

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