Paying for violenceThe Seoul District Police is claiming damages worth $324,000 against 14 people from organizations behind anti-mad cow rallies.
The 14 are accused of disrupting traffic by illegally marching in the streets during the candlelight rallies, injuring police officers as well as damaging police buses, wireless radios and other law enforcement equipment.
Not only that, about 100 shopkeepers in Gwanghwamun have filed for damages worth $1.7 million.
We have emphasized before that demonstrations must be peaceful. If not, then we must hold the organizers accountable for violent and illegal demonstrations.
Exercising power entails being responsible. It is only right that the police and the public issue claims.
In developed countries, it is standard procedure to punish organizers of illegal gatherings and demonstrations and for public organizations and the public to submit claims.
In Korea as well, public organizations in their droves are submitting claims for damages following illegal rallies.
The law courts seem to be in favor of awarding damages to people who have been affected financially and suffered losses because of illegal rallies.
Local governments and the police are issuing seven claims against the organizers of illegal rallies related to demonstrations against the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.
The Cheongju District Court has ruled that a defendant has to pay $10,000 to North Chungcheong Province and the police following a claim submitted against 11 people responsible for the “North Chungcheong Province People’s Movement Center against the Korea-U.S. FTA.”
The court said that “the organizers must be held accountable for violent, illegal rallies.”
The Gwangju District Court ruled in favor of the state after it submitted a claim against the group called Common Commission of Gwangju, South Jeolla Province Against Patriot Missiles. The rulings were meant to hold the organizers responsible for not stopping demonstrators from damaging other people’s property. The court did not accept the defendants’ claim that “participants’ violence was an accident.”
It is only fair that the organizers should reimburse a particular group or the state for damages incurred during gatherings and rallies, especially if those meetings were violent.
We believe that if more people understand that they will be held accountable for their actions, the number of illegal and violent rallies will diminish greatly.