"Tell me what a police state looks like....This is what a police state looks like" - HeadCount

“Tell me what a police state looks like….This is what a police state looks like”

That's what a crowd chanted as John Bush, the Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government, was being arrested for what seemed like a standard rally on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

As a student at UT, I have stumbled into my fair share of rallies and protests, some of which I have agreed with and others, not so much. But as Voltaire said, "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

The protest coincided with President Obama's speech about higher education on the same campus. The video clip of his arrest does not cover what prompted this brush with the law but by visiting the organization's website, it's safe to guess that Bush was pushing his organization's agenda which advocates against the usurpation of freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The group is a spin off of the Ron Paul for president campaign, TAG fights issues like "vampire cops" in Austin and all around Texas.

While the video clip of the arrest only shows the latter half of the discussion with campus police it appears that Bush was being reasonable and peaceful. Having said that, it also seems like it may have been a setup to gain attention for his organization and the cause. John Bush is a full time activist and radio talk show host. That said, whether or not he was intentionally agitating the cops or he was really just protesting, the actions by the police did lend credibility to his stance about the fragility of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

One clear violation of the law caught on video was that Bush was held in a police car and put in handcuffs without being told what he was charged with and without being read his rights. From the video, it appears that Bush was on what he understood to be public property, peaceably assembling, with press credentials, but was arrested anyway. It turns out he was arrested for "straying outside the free speech zone" and voicing his opinion somewhere "the Man" said he couldn't, (still in the United States, I might add.)

Later that day, a group of another 20 activists were marched to jail after waving American flags and protesting the wrongful arrest of Bush.

First Amendment rights are something that many people take for granted. Though it's a longstanding American principle, it's still an issue that creates headlines day after day and a right that is challenged frequently.

So if this right is one that you enjoy, exercise it. Be sure to speak out freely and often wherever you see injustice and allow others  the same privilege. And moreover, vote this year. Make sure your elected officials unequivocally know where you stand on this and other important issues.

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