More than 2600 activists arrested in US protests since Obama's election

by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy

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While popular uprisings in the Middle East have captured the attention of the mainstream media, people power in the good ole USA is also on the rise, according to Bill Quigley, professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans and Associate Legal Director of Center for Constitutional Rights.

Quigley reports that over 2600 activists have been arrested in U.S. protests since the election of President Obama: 665 in 2009, more than 1290 in 2010, and more than 670 in this year alone. Americans have been arrested for protesting "U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo, strip mining, home foreclosures, nuclear weapons, immigration policies, police brutality, mistreatment of hotel workers, budget cutbacks, Blackwater, the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and right wing efforts to cut back collective bargaining," writes Quigley, who has catalogued U.S. protests and arrests from the past two and a half years.

Much of Quigley's information comes from The Nuclear Resister, a quarterly that has been documenting arrests related to anti-nuclear resistance since 1980 and anti-war actions since 1990. The actual number of activists arrested could be slightly lower than Quigley's tally which does not factor in people repeatedly arrested for various protests within the period surveyed.

Nonetheless, Quigley's research reveals a significant expression of confidence in nonviolent resistance. Americans from all walks of life are engaging in civil disobedience to confront injustice. Teachers, veterans, grandmothers, priests, nuns, a former CIA analyst, military family members, hotel workers, and school children were among those arrested in the past two years.

Jack Cohen-Joppa, who edits The Nuclear Resister along with his partner Felice, told Quigley that after observing a decline in protests during the election of President Obama, his publication is now reporting a steady, slow rise in the number of people willing to risk arrest and imprisonment. "Today for instance, there are more Americans serving time in prison for nuclear weapons than at any time in more than a decade," Cohen-Joppa said.

To view Quigley's listing of U.S. protests and arrests, go here.

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