We think: Police Need Greater Presence at Anthony Home to Prevent Violence

Posted September 20, 2008

Everybody has a right to peaceful protest. It's a constitutional right.

But our Founding Fathers didn't make exceptions for a mob looking to start a ruckus.

And that's exactly what's going on outside the home of George and Cindy Anthony these days.

It's beyond distasteful. It's disgusting.

There's a reason people are upset over the disappearance of Caylee Anthony, especially when Casey Anthony, the little girl's mother, has been identified as a person of interest in the case.

But let's not kid ourselves. Cursing, taunting and throwing rocks aren't a standard part of the peaceful protester's playbook.

A handful of people are acting like fools in front of the crush of TV cameras. It's more about emulating Springer, not Gandhi.

That said, some of this nonsense might have been avoided if the Orange County Sheriff's Office had been more visible in the neighborhood.

It's a great deterrent. But it's taken some ugly incidents -- along with a meeting with attorney Mark NeJame, representing George and Cindy Anthony -- for the Sheriff's Office to agree to be more vigilant. That should have been happening before now.

A police presence is powerful. "Protesters" may have thought twice before throwing objects at windows at 2 in the morning. Or telling reporters that their goal with the Anthonys is to "break them down." Or challenging Mr. Anthony's manhood.

This is all about them. It has nothing to do with a missing 3-year-old.

What's worse, it's dangerously close to turning into vigilante justice. Somebody could get hurt or killed.

There's been a scare already. The child of a protester appeared to be injured as he was shouting inflammatory and confrontational statements with his mother at the Anthony home. The child wasn't hurt, but the incident did prompt an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

We understand it's a tough balancing act for the police. People can shout and scream at the top of their lungs while they're on public property. The First Amendment guarantees that. It's a precious right that everybody deserves.

But there is a notable difference between peaceful assembly and the mob scene at the Anthonys'.

A greater police presence won't give the Anthonys preferential treatment. The intent is to ensure the safety of everyone, including neighbors who have been besieged for weeks. It's far worse for the Anthonys, who have been provoked into confrontations. That's not the answer, either.

If somebody wants to protest, fine. If somebody wants to throw rocks, arrest them. These people belong in jail.

They aren't protesters. They are instigators. They will find no safe haven in our nation's constitution.

Source: Orlando Sentinel