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Malignant Neglect in Berkeley?

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Paul Cassell at the Volokh Conspiracy discusses the "black bloc" thugs who violently forced the cancellation of a speech they disagreed with a couple weeks ago and the curious failure of Berkeley authorities to make any arrests of the thugs.  "If a[] Los Angeles Times reporter can find the black bloc attackers," Cassell asks, "why can't the Berkeley authorities?"

I hope UC Berkeley authorities will be able to announce some progress on the investigation soon. They have said that they are working "in close concert with the FBI on an ongoing investigation into the matter." But the same report indicates that the FBI has not confirmed or denied that it is actually conducting an investigation, and it is not immediately clear whether the FBI will find that the attack warrants federal attention.

Local failure to prosecute those who violently interfere with the rights of others -- because the locals have more sympathy with the thugs than those they attack -- is an old problem.  Congress addressed it in the Ku Klux Act, signed by President Grant in 1871.  This case will warrant federal attention if Berkeley police fail to act. 

The criminal portion of the Ku Klux Act is codified today in 18 U.S.C. ยง 241.

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured--

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
Fits like a glove.  Multiple years in the federal slammer sounds about right.  Maybe not ten.

Most crimes of violence are state and local, not federal, matters, but there are exceptions.  The KKK exception is an important one, and it should be invoked here if necessary.

3 Comments

Decency evolves: I agree that the anarchists who disrupted Milo Yiannopolus' speech should be found and prosecuted, but given the public defense of pedophilia that he has engaged in and his defense of the identities of rich pedophiles who he says he watched abusing young boys, should this really be such a cause celebre on the right?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/320345-tapper-blasts-cpac-for-inviting-milo-to-speak

Remember the ACLU famously defending the right of Nazis to march through Skokie?

I don't know much about Yiannopolus, and frankly things he may have said on other occasions are not relevant to the point. He was an invited speaker, and the people who resorted to violence to cause the cancellation of his talk should be prosecuted. Peaceful demonstrations that do not interfere with the talk or those who want to hear it are, of course, perfectly okay.

I'm not a spokesman for "the right," BTW.

I don't disagree that Yiannopolis has a right to speak wherever he is invited, so long as the institutions where he is invited are willing to give him a forum for his speech. The wisdom and goodwill of those who have employed him as a writer and have invited him to speak and write seems questionable to me. He's been a repellent and hateful character, who has trafficked in anti-semitism, misogyny, and racism, quite apart from his statements on pedophilia. It's unfortunate that he's found an avid audience among conservatives--the Berkeley College Republicans invited him to speak and CPAC only rescinded its own invitation for him to speak earlier today after the statements on pedophilia became publicized. I'm beyond tired of black bloc anarchists, who hijack protests for their own violent ends, and would be happy to see some of them spend time in custody to deter these actions. Still, this episode is a sorry one not merely because he was prevented from speaking, but because he has been monetizing his hatred through this college speaking tour in the first place.

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