The verdict is in, and three members of Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in prison for their “hooliganism.” Clearly, it’s a bad day for political liberty in Russia.
But while we’re jumping on our high horse and slamming Putin, let’s also take a moment to consider how we treat protesters in the United States.
It’s been 4 years since Luis Fernandez’s Policing Dissent, and things have only gotten worse. Who can forget the, now-iconic, picture of the campus officer at UC-Davis, completely unfazed as he doused docile students with pepper spray? Or what about what happened in Oakland? We can only hope the Pussies are treated better than PFC Bradley Manning.
The First Amendment allows for the peaceful freedom of assembly. But permit laws, the increased privatization of once-public spaces, and the fact that local law enforcement has regularly shown themselves to be under-trained and over-reactive, it’s not clear that we’re that much better off.
We should be in solidarity with Pussy Riot. But liberty at home needs some tending to, too.