First they came for Cindy

Is protest now a crime?

Someone called the police on the CPT vigil.

Just after noon on Thursday, a patrol car pulled into the Toons parking lot. The officer rolled down her window and motioned for someone to come over to speak for the eight vigil keepers assembled near the Nevada Avenue sidewalk.

Apparently someone had called in to a radio station, which in turn called the police, to investigate a report of “protesters at Willamette and Nevada.” We thought: “send them over, they can join our vigil!”

Clearly we were the “protesters” in question, the report was only off by a block, and the officer asked to know what organization we represented and wrote it down in her paperwork. The Christian Peacemakers Team.

We didn’t ask which radio station had made the call. Did someone there think that a “protester” was something you can call the cops about? And what was the crime to which the police thought they were responding? If you called the police to say that a man was mowing his lawn, you’d probably learn that they don’t dispatch officers for activities which are lawful.

Maybe the radio station had been emboldened by Cindy Sheehan’s arrest the night of the state of the union address. Sheehan had unveiled a t-shirt which read ” 2,245 dead. How many more?” Immediately a police officer shouted “protester!” and hurredly removed her from the congressional gallery. Sheehan was released later in the evening, and received an apology from the Washington DC police. Ostensibly their officers had not been sufficiently briefed to know that protesting was not in fact a crime.

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to First they came for Cindy

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