Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

CASE DISMISSED! City of Denver drops charges against Occupier Patrick Jay


DENVER, COLORADO- Prosecuting attorneys for the City of Denver were granted their own motion to have their case against Patrick Jay dismissed for lack of evidence! Prominent civil rights lawyer David Lane was informed this weekend that all charges against Patrick have been dropped.

Patrick was arrested last December while returning to his car after a ?#?BlackLivesMatter? protest. He was seized by SWAT officers while VIDEOTAPING the snatch and grab arrest of fellow activist Max Mendieta. Patrick was charged with obstructing traffic while marchers staged die-ins at prominent Denver intersections. *

According to police, HALO cameras recorded Patrick and others blocking vehicles. The cameras might also have confirmed that their actions prevented cars from running over the marchers laying prone on the pavement. We’ll never know because the DPD now says the footage is gone. After defendants declined to take plea deals, Patrick’s defense attorney David Lane learned the HALO footage would not be available for discovery because the surveillance files had been accidentally overwritten! In view of this, David Lane motioned for a dismissal, but city attorneys assured the judge that there were DPD officers enough to bear witness against Patrick Jay. Lane vowed to compel those officers to first have to pick Patrick from out of a line up. Patrick’s jury trial was set for April, but last week city attorneys tendered their own motion for a dismissal and that motion was granted.

Patrick Jay’s charges were dropped and his First Amendment rights were vindicated, but of course the Denver Police achieved their goal of intimidating activists who have to brace themselves for arbitrary arrest even though they know their rights. Over the course of many months of marches, participation has suffered attrition not just because people are frightened, don’t want to or can’t subject themselves to arrest, but some activists who had no alternative but to take plea deals now cannot risk violating the terms of probation which forbid their participation in protests.

Only a few days after Patrick’s arrest, he and I were leaving another anti-police-brutality march when multiple DPD cruisers swooped up to us on the sidewalk. This time instead of jumping off and unto us, an officer in the lead vehicle shouted from his rolled-down window: “Scared you?!”

Yes, officer, you did. **

Arrests and harassment have helped the DPD reduce protest numbers. Because of favorable plea deals or inadequate legal representation, no one has yet had the chance to challenge the veracity of their charges, until now. Several cases, including Max Mendieta’s, are still pending. Max is also represented by David Lane. Hopefully the recognition of Patrick’s arrest being unwarranted will turn the tide.

————-
NOTES:
* PATRICK’S ARREST
WAS SURREAL. Everyone was returning to their cars, putting signs into trunks etc, when the police SUV carrying riot cops on its sideboards made a slow pass. This was a development we began to notice at earlier events. Even though the officers in riot gear might not have had to show themselves during a march, they would emerge afterward on their SUVs to cruise by our vehicles, almost to a stop as if scanning our cars looking for suspicious occupants. We didn’t think much of it except this time they stopped and the entire gang lept off to seize one of our group, Max Mendieta, as he walked the few solitary steps to his car. Patrick started to film the whole incident, from when police forced Max to the ground until they hauled him into custody. We’d reconstituted into a small group of less than a dozen, activists eager to dissuade further arressts, but the riot cops elbowed past us to seize another, which Patrick filmed, and then they grabbed Patrick. Patrick asked what they were arresting him for, but the officers wouldn’t say, only that it would be listed on his arrest warrant.

Ironically their irreverant answer turned out to be incorrect. But first I want to tell you what happened when the police drove off. They left an officer behind. The SUV loaded with riot cops, minus one, stopped several car lengths away when someone noticed the error. Their sargeant had been left on the street, in his cumbersome riot gear, unable to fit in the ordinary cruisers, and barely able to catch up with the waiting SUV. I guess the SUV driver didn’t want to risk backing over his sargeant, so the fat man lumbered slowly back to his perch, his riot gear clinking with every plodding step, like a minuscule robocop, the crowd barely able to sustain its “nah-nah-nah-nah” chant for laughing so hard.

Perhaps as payback, the arrestees that night -there were four total- had to wait sixteen hours “for their fingerprints to clear.”

Back to Patrick’s undeclared charges. Due to what we could only construe to be a typo, Patrick’s citation read “database-error” where the offense was supposed to be. Patrick had to sit in jail for 16 hours, post bail, await arraignment, and seek a lawyer, knowing only that he was charged with database-error. When the magistrate asked if he pled guilty, Patrick said “To what? Database error?” “No.”

** YES THERE’S MORE TO THIS STORY TOO. After the DPD pulled their gag, the officers watched as we walked to the building under which we’d parked our vehicle. The hour having become late, we discovered the stairwell doors locked. We imagined the officers laughing as they saw us circle the office building testing every door. We soon realized that our only recourse was to descend the car ramp to the parking area, but we were afraid that the police would follow and corner us there, out of view of other late night passersby. Security cameras or no, we feared what two dozen or so cops could do to two pedestrians; what we know often happens to homeless indigents in back alleys and poorly lit spaces; what happens to African Americans in broad daylight while they scream “I Can’t Breathe!” So we waited until the police cars lost interest before we ventured down the ramp.

Not being able to count on even our own police to obey the law, knowing the brutality of which police are capable, and witnessing the capriciousness of police abuse of authority, is the terror that defines living in a police state.

Springs congressman Doug Lamborn tells citizens he answers to private propertied constituents not to public

Congressman Doug Lamborn's office at 1272 Kelly Johnson Way doesn't permit protesting
COLORADO SPRINGS- Local citizens have had plenty to protest with Congressman Doug “Obama is a Tar-Baby” Lamborn, so now the Tea Party bigot has put up a sign, NO PROTESTING. Lamborn declined to meet with community leaders from the NAACP on Monday, or Move-On organizers on Wednesday. Are you in Colorado Congressional District Five? Well, you may neither SOLICIT a meeting with your government representative, nor LOITER hoping to wait him out. Politicians like Lamborn who want to shove undemocratic corrupt legislation down people’s throats, and spout deeply offensive racist rhetoric out of sheer stupidity, have to hide where constituents can’t reach them.

Congressman Lamborn office park with AECom and other weapons industry swine
Situating your office where your constituents can’t reach you reminds me of former Senator Allard’s office in the Plaza of the Rockies, where security guards forbid entry to anyone who didn’t look investment-banker friendly.

The plaza complex is now the Booz Allen Hamilton building, the world’s largest weapons industry firms, chaired by James Woolsey and his wife, one of the Colorado College trustees. You’ll note that one of Lamborn’s neighbors is AECOM, another giant war profiteer.

At least Allard chose an office which was centrally located, only a block from Congressman Hefley. Doug Lamborn’s office is situated in an industrial office park where no one can hear you scream.

So is isolating yourself from you constituents now standard MO for legislative office-holders? Not really. Representative government is hardly where you want to take a stand against a public’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Especially someone espousing to be a patriot for the Tea Party.

Actually, if Lamborn wants to assert that his corporate representation gig is “private property,” I’d say the crafty bugger is right.

Congressman Lamborn says NO SOLICITING, NO PROTESTING, NO LOITERING
No shirt, no shoes? No representation.

Hillary Free speech part two

While she was speaking… she had a 71 year old Former CIA analyst BEATEN by Capitol Pigs for “heckling” her… not by screaming denunciations, but by quietly standing up and turning his back on her LIES. Like Sarah Palin having people beaten and arrested for not sitting down and not shutting up while she was lying HER ass off about “don’t sit down and don’t shut up” You must to sit quietly while the Fuhrer speaks, then applaud at appropriate moments! Alle Sieg HEIL!

The Police, as always, happy to jump people they consider weak and helpless.

When they go looking for victims of their brutal cowardice, they have a hiring preference for those who are elderly, handicapped or Children

Julian Assange is being vilified, now, under orders from Ms Hillary, as “not a Journalist”. Not your mere personal insult, it’s a charge led by her old enemies/friends at FOX news, their screed being that “Commoners” such as for instance, ME, shouldn’t be allowed First Amendment Protection for words published on the Internet, the reasoning bing that it’s written, not speech, but not “Press” because we’re not an established News outlet. While they can pump up their Ignorant Audience with lies, and goad them through hatred into doing senseless acts of violence against “liberal terrorist traitors” like Rand Paul ordering his goons to beat down Lauren Valle for “heckling” him. or Jared Loughner slaughtering yet another 9 year old American child in Arizona.

The Right Wing Thugs who did that to Ms Valle demanded SHE apologize to THEM. For what? Smearing their smoothly polished Jackboots with her blood? See a pattern here?

The ones shouting the loudest about “Freedom” are the worst hypocrites, a PIG Pantheon that includes virtually every elected or appointed public official in America, Most times it’s done in Jail Cells, or the back of a patrol car, far from any civilian witness. Like what they’re doing with Bradley Manning.

The Pentagon makes a huge propaganda gain by calling him a “weakling” but they always have a 5-man PIG crew of MPs to move him, shackled and drugged.

That’s the way the Hypocrite Cowards know how to fight.

What will they do next, murder him the way they did Crazy Horse, shackled hand and foot, then bayoneted in the kidney, literally stabbed in the back, for “trying to escape”?

Their Pig hypocrisy is nothing new and pervades their system from top to bottom and all points in between.

The Wikipedia page for one of my references has an annotation on it that it might not be “Objective” enough, because it states the obvious that the MinuteCoward “American Defense” racist militia did the murder.

Shawna Forde, the leader of the group, was found guilty yesterday of the murder, her accomplices are awaiting trial. This in spite of the Arizona Police attempting to minimalize the crime by saying that Raul Flores, father of 9 year old Brisenia, was a “suspected” drug dealer. The Pigs rallied behind their Racist Comrades, as usual.

You can lead a horse to water, but will it give a statement to the press?

From the horse’s mouth: Nope.
On advice of lawyer, don’t talk about arrest. On advice from retired lawyers: civil liberties issue iffy. Advice gleaned from the overworked ACLU: case not as good as others we’ve got. Advice from friends: hope for a plea deal. Request from PPJPC colleagues: pretend we don’t know you. Advice about the press: “Generally they don’t have much interest in this kind of thing.” FAIL.
 
I have to confess, my pretending yesterday about an intentional plan to fly under-the-radar was sarcasm. I had no idea the extent to which the sublimation of the “MEPP” Kulp/Nace arrests was premeditated. No mention of the court date in the PPJPC Active For Justice weekly email, the arrestees’ spirits driven down by the defeatism prescribed above. I raise this criticism not to victimize the defendants further, but to question this apparently endemic predilection for hemlock.

Protesters say arrests unjust

Exactly how valuable is it to have colleagues with legal experience enough to vacillate about your courtroom chances being between cross-your-fingers and dismal? What good a lawyer whose own sense of your pre-verdict innocence is ambivalent? What confidence is lifted being told it will all depend on the judge? I’ve always thought a lawyer who counsels activists to shut up while their prosecution is pending, lest innocence incriminate itself, is not suited to activists as clients.

Most troubling is the impression which the ACLU gives in its habitual reluctance to express enthusiasm for a case. The Denver ACLU in particular is famously overburdened, and they are inundated with solicitations for representation. Better in my opinion to decline with apologies than to leave inquirers doubting their trampled civil liberties may not have been sufficiently flattened. Free speech is either or. Restricted free speech is restricted speech. Or are we prepared to call it the 1.01 Amendment (revised for 2011)?

Behind the scenes, only hours after the fact, the ACLU can reveal that the November arrests and the policy which the city acted upon were patently unconstitutional. So how can we expedite that kind of reassurance to activists before the fact? Because of course such arrests are only serving to scare the public from even thinking about dissent. In fact this is the preemptive aim of these actions.

I count my own success at avoiding arrest, as I find myself defying authority sometimes nose to nose, with nonchalance because I know my rights. I KNOW MY RIGHTS. That argument appears to register with police officers when you say it as if you’re reassuring them, projecting a shrug and a smile, relieving them of having to rationalize acting against you. When you are confident of your rights there is nothing to compromise but practical considerations, lawful orders which the officer is able to show you are warranted.

You can retreat to a public sidewalk once a policeman has proven he had sufficient authority to make the request. A landlord who has contracted the use of his land to tenants does not have absolute say without their consultation. It’s not even reasonable of him to call in the police if no one is complaining and you are not creating a disturbance. To know these things empowers you to stand your ground when overzealous officers of the law think they can throw their weight around. How do we rekindle that essential confidence in our civil rights?

Pictured: Ted Nace with Rita, Pattie, Eric, Esther, Bill, and Loring

The other confidence-stealing factor at play in this case is an activist organization insisting that its members protest under a different name, to avoid offending members who didn’t agree. On its website, the PPJPC claims the MEPP as a subcommittee, but for the day of action and in subsequent news coverage, no affiliation.

If you consider that the Middle East Peace Project’s objective is to win over public awareness and sympathy, it seems horribly defeatist to think that you can’t even appeal to your own fellow members. Not to mention that you can’t trade on the reputation that sustains your mother organization, instead you have to emerge out of the blue, like any other holders of extremist views.

When protesters are having to excuse themselves and the unintended perhaps unwarranted commotion they’ve caused, and have to pretend to be acting autonomously because they can’t make their case to their own colleagues, it’s a recipe for what happened here. Activists kowtowed and self-censored.

And so, how to ally yourself with such impediments? Coloradans For Peace has to cut the PPJPC out of the loop so long as its decision makers are so dominated by naysayers, pretenders, NVC appeasers, and a staff which reports their every intention to the police. You can’t even discuss strategy in such a circle.

Should local Israel boycott arrestees face wrongful charges alone, without your support or media scrutiny?

COLORADO SPRINGS- There’s a plan tomorrow, Thursday Jan 6 at 1:30, for the first court appearance of BDS activists Cyndy Kulp and Ted Nace, arrested in November at a local shopping center, and charged with trespass to curtail their free speech. THE PLAN is for the two Middle East Peace Project activists to follow legal procedures unobtrusively, no press, no statements, no calling attention to the Israeli war crime they were protesting, or now the patently unconstitutional abridgment of their civil liberties. Self-censorship does seem odd when the original goal was to raise public outcry about injustice in Palestine. Isn’t media scrutiny otherwise the only opportunity which knocks when you’re gagged by wrongful arrest? Not much of a plan. Are veteran BDS campaigners Coloradans For Peace going to disrupt tomorrow’s agenda to sweep BDS/Free-Speech under the rug? HELL YES.

A strategy of keeping your head low, of tempering your message to avoid offense, of your sponsors and allies disassociating themselves from you, is a plan for mice not men.

While it might feel unseemly to call attention to yourself, even as a victim of injustice, that’s the same inhibition that keeps so-called advocates for social reform from protesting in public in the first place. Standing on the sidewalk, holding a sign is about trying to draw attention.

Long time peace activists Kulp and Nace need not check their outspoken humanitarian compulsions at the door tomorrow. Please turn up at 1PM tomorrow outside the Municipal Courthouse to show your support and help the two raise their voices to further the message about which they feel so passionately.

COLORADANS FOR PEACE is scheduling a press conference tomorrow at 1PM to object to the city’s recently unveiled policy of enforcing severe limitations on rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In the past this harassment has been aimed at antiwar protest, now it is being used to silence critics of Israeli Apartheid and the illegal subjugation of the Palestinian people. If either of these issues is important to you, please come lend your voice.

Below is the policy which the City of Colorado Springs is seeking to enforce:

COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT BULLETIN

ORIGINATED BY: COMMANDER BRIAN GRADY
APPROVED BY: DC PETER CAREY
DATE ISSUED: 05-17-10
GENERAL TOPIC: FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
SERIAL NO: 013-10(P)

The legal counsel for some large business owners has contacted the City Attorney’s Office to request that the Police Department enforce trespassing laws against individuals circulating petitions or otherwise expressing free speech views on their private property. Senior Attorney Will Bain has communicated with the attorneys and has done legal research to determine the current law regarding free speech on private property. Senior Attorney Bain advised that the private rights of the business owner outweigh the free speech rights of the individual.

Additionally, the research by the City Attorney’s Office indicates that at this time the Citadel Mall, Chapel Hills Mall, the First and Main Shopping Center, the World Arena, and University Village can be interpreted to be public areas due to their size, number of stores, and past court rulings. While the malls and shopping center can still impose time, place, and manner restrictions, the charge of trespass will not be appropriate for these five locations in Colorado Springs when addressing free speech rights. BOLOs have been placed on these addresses as a reminder.

All sergeants and officers shall review the additional changes and detailed procedures to be followed in these type cases, which are outlines in General Order 701, dated 01/13/10.

Here is the Coloradans For Peace press release:

Coloradans For Peace and its social justice allies unequivocally reject the City of Colorado Springs assertion to limit free speech rights on public or private property. We reject the conclusion alleged by the City Attorney that current law allows for initiating trespassing charges to curtail individuals “expressing free speech views.”

Whether against antiwar protesters, or activists boycotting Israeli goods stolen from occupied people in violation of international law, we feel that municipal policies should seek to defend, not inhibit, the First Amendment rights of its residents and citizens.

CFP objects to the attempt to set precedent whereby private property landowners operating facilities open to the public can dictate what civil liberties they will allow or disallow. And we certainly oppose law enforcement behavior which takes it upon itself to enforce trespassing charges without being summoned by the traditional complaints to warrant legitimate intervention by police officers.

US-Pakistan Police-state exploits floods to attack ‘militants’

Of course that’s not the way the AP (Army Propaganda) headline worded it. The way their article is worded, those Meanies in the Pakistan Resistance refused to bow down and Worship their U.S. Military Masters even though their country is devastated by flooding, floods the U.S. Military is exploiting to bring them “under control”
Which is it, Police-state Militarists, are you fighting for “freedom” or to bring people under your CONTROL?
Special (forces) Shout-out to the Green Beret assassination Death Squads… when you get rotated back stateside and you’re giving your lectures to the Girl and Boy Scouts and the JROTC and the Ladies’ Missionary Society at the Third Baptist Church of Bumfukt Kansas, and you’re telling the starry eyed youngsters who you’re grooming to take your place in the Killing Machine once they reach the age of 18, 17 if they get their Brain-dead “patriot” parents to sign a waiver… you’ll be faced with a choice, either tell the kids that the “Freedom for those oppressed” Unit Patches and flags mean absolutely NOTHING,

or be God-Damned LIARS. Same for the rest of you who would use your “heroic” Everybody Must Conform and Follow Our Orders “liberation” to sell the War to the future generations.

“Freedom of Religion” unless you belong to a religious group your Masters say is terrorist-backed.

“Freedom of Speech” as long as that speech is cleared by your Police State censors, otherwise we’ll be attacked in the streets by your Local Gestapo units like the Cowardly Springs Police did the St Paddy’s Parade 3 years ago, with nary a protest from the Military or their so-called “freedom loving” supporters. And they wonder why people call them PIGS.

Are we REALLY supposed to believe that when you don’t even stand for Freedom IN AMERICA that you’re going to stand for it in the countries you’re occupying“Liberating” for the benefit of your Corporate Masters? REALLY?

Tell your lies to kids and the Ladies Missionary Society, they’ll be stupid enough to believe you.

By the way, this ain’t whining

It’s a direct challenge and answer to those who say that they, their “troops” and the Police actually fight for freedom of speech when they quite clearly do not. It’s ME calling each and every one who says that a LIAR, directly. It’s ME pointing out that YOU, personally, have no courage, no honor, no dignity and it’s an in-your-fat-piggy-lying-face “Whatcha gonna do about it Byotch?”
Well, it’s really obvious what you’ll do, stand back and sic the Gestapo Goon-squad Stormtroopers on me or anybody else who actually uses Free Speech for something other than praising the Dictatorship.
You’re free to praise the Dictatorship and the Babykilling War, I’m not in any way trying to force you into silence.
But when you have your “freedom fighters” do what they do best, fight freedom everywhere and everytime it rears its head, you really make yourselves look not only like the Cowardly Liars you truly are, but stupid as well, by chanting Retarded slogans like “they’re fighting for your freedom”.
Challenging any one of you to a one-on-one demonstration, that’s futility. But, it’s out there, and every time you spout off about it, at least a few, and then a few more, and a few more… every time, are going to realize that when you hide behind the slogan-chanting about “standing for free speech” you coward sons of crack-whores already proved yourselves wrong, that you have no objection whatsoever to your Pigs beating people or otherwise punishing them for free speech. No moral or legal objections, you proved that many times over and said as much on an equal number of occasions. So it must be YOU not being able to back your shit up so you try to make yourselves look good while you’re backing your shit DOWN.
Long enough to call for reinforcements. Or for somebody to do all your fighting for you while you stand on the sidelines and cheer. Like you bitches did at the parade 3 years ago.

I also make a point of telling you that where your nasty little piglets can hear or read it, so they can see for themselves what kind of cowards Mommy and Daddy REALLY are.

there seem to be a few people who have missed this point…

Now, these pictures represent the actuality of the “Fighting for Freedom of Speech and other Rights” that our noble and glorious Military and Police do. These scenes, the one where the cop has an elderly gentleman in a choke-hold, an ILLEGAL chokehold which the Cop denied, despite the fact that the victim is a prominent member of the Community, well, that one was from when our C.S. Gestapo Department assaulted seven members of a group who legally entered a Parade three years ago. Paid “free” speech.

One of our number, now gone, Elizabeth Fineron, was dragged from the Bookmobile, our only motorized vehicle in the parade, because she couldn’t get out fast enough to please the Pigs errr… “Freedom Fighters” (they DO fight freedom every time it rears its head.) She was then arrested after supposedly dropping the “eff” word. “Fascist” but that’s not the one the Bootlicking Pig Apologists cite.

By the time the Freedom Fighters attacked Elizabeth, however, their Fascist Forces were already in full-on attack mode. Not to worry, though, oh ye Defenders of Pig Control Freak Tactics, somewhere in there, while the Pigs were already attacking, some witness or witnesses heard the “eff” word, so that makes it all better. Their very action of stopping the entry from participating in the parade, long before the Alleged Use of The Eff Word, was a criminal assault and a planned, deliberate denial of our rights as citizens.

But of course, the Cops and the Military Personnel both in the parade and among the spectators, they were “defending” our Right of Free Speech, which only applies, of course, if that Free Speech agrees with what our Masters tell us we can say.

And in a lovely twist of logic, they’re exporting this same “freedom” to other countries, countries which just happen to have mineral wealth or strategic geographic positions which Our Beloved Rulers want to exploit for their Private Gain, at Public Expense. And, of course, the fact that the entry in the Parade called notice to the illegality of such actions. The line of Heavily Armored and Armed Uniformed Thugs in the second picture are poised to do the same thing to Other Citizens who dare to use Free Speech and Freedom to Assemble in defiance of their Corporate Masters.

Yet, SOME WILL CLAIM that this is done in defense of Freedom and not very gently chide us for saying otherwise.

ACLU defends Freedom of Speech: that of yours, mine, Nazis or corporations

COLORADO SPRINGS- The local Springs ACLU chapter is challenging the national office’s position on the recent Citizens United victory and I’m torn. I am as anti-corporate as the next rabid class-war insurgent, but the longstanding corporate personhood abomination is a separate abuse than the oppression of civil liberties. It’s clear that one impacts the other, but until we clarify who’s a “who,” the ACLU is determined to exclude no one from First Amendment protection. Make sense?

When and if the immortality advantages of corporate trusts can reigned in, the political power of the individual will be more secure. But an opposite Citizens United verdict would have left American individuals with limits on their speech. You don’t pass respiratory restrictions in Pigville just because the Big Bad Wolf is in town. You charge him with threatening illegal acts, etc, before you abridge the rights of all citizens in the name of security.

In social justice type affinity groups, I certainly believe there are times when the grassroots have to wag their dog gone somnolent. More often however, dissension generates from a malignant insurrection against the founding principles with which the provincial members have lost sight. My experience has been that local ACLU groups, Denver included, are exaggeratedly vigilant about asking “is this a civil liberties issue?” for fear of being seen to address a problem that has become politicized.

Defenders of the last administration for example were desperate to prevent activists from getting the support and sponsorship of established advocacy groups like the ACLU.

Lamentably, believe it or not, some ACLU self-obstructionists differentiate human rights abuses from civil liberties. They see the issue as “partisan.” Because critics of the Patriot Act are often Democrats, Republicans find themselves tasked with defending it. Likewise, illegal war, war crimes, rendition, illegal detention, etc, are also too partisan to address, even as they constitute affronts to the civil liberties of all.

It’s become very clear to me that both Denver and Colorado Springs chapters are dominated by conservative voices who restrict local ACLU activities to conducting public discussion groups, as opposed to speaking out about federal and local abuses which are usual targets of the national office.

The upcoming forum on Corporate Personhood, this Thursday night at Shove Chapel at Colorado College, is clearly outside the purview of civil liberties, but may have escaped our local ACLU’s conservative corporatists explicitly because it goes against the ACLU leadership.

To my mind however, the event will serve two goods. One, we take on corporations, and two our action alerts ACLU Washington about the rotten apples in our midst. Obstructionists are perhaps ever present, but headquarters might generate some guidelines about how to further root them out. A simple essay test about “what are civil liberties” would suffice for me. The next member who points to an ACLU talking point and avers “I don’t see how this is a civil liberties issue” gets the boot.

The most pathetic recurring argument is that the ACLU should only concern itself with the Civil Liberties of “Americans.” The National ACLU has of course argued for the rights of foreign nationals, even those living overseas who have been targets of extradition, as well as peoples of foreign lands under the jurisdiction of American authority; leased properties such as oversees bases for example, and entire nations we’ve invaded. Where should borders demarc free-of-liberties-zones?

The same critics of course show no qualms about US military forces subjugating other peoples in the name of “Freedom” without thought that our liberation of capitalist forces should come with some protections. Pax Americana minus the Americana Bill of Rights.

Challenged about its public support of the Citizens United case, the ACLU offered this unapologetic explanation:

“The ACLU has consistently taken the position that section 203 is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it permits the suppression of core political speech, and our amicus brief takes that position again.”

The fallout has been heated, but I’ve enjoyed the parallels drawn to the infamous occasion when the ACLU protected the right of Nazis to march in the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie Illinois. Yes the ACLU will fight for NAMBLA, Nazis and corporations, and no one bats an eye at the affinity of the three.

The 2009 Amicus Brief which the ACLU filed in support of Citizens United is viewable online (PDF), here are the preface sections:

AMICUS CURIAEBRIEF OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL

LIBERTIES UNION IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANT

ON SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION

INTEREST OF AMICUS

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with more than 500,000 members dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the Constitution and our nation’s civil rights laws.

For the past three decades, the ACLU has been deeply engaged in the effort to reconcile campaign finance legislation and First Amendment principles, from Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), where we represented our New York affiliate, to McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93 (2003), where the ACLU was both co-counsel and plaintiff, to Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006), where we were lead counsel. In addition, the ACLU has appeared as amicus curiae in many of this Court’s campaign finance cases, including FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (“WRTL”), 551 U.S. 449 (2007).

As framed by the Court’s reargument order, 2009 WL 1841614 (2009), this case presents fundamental questions concerning the constitutionally permissible scope of campaign finance regulation that this Court first confronted in Buckley and subsequently revisited in McConnell and WRTL. The proper resolution of that delicate balance remains an issue of substantial importance to the ACLU and its members.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

The broad prohibition on “electioneering communications” set forth in § 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), 2 U.S.C. § 441b(b)(2), violates the First Amendment, and the limiting construction adopted by this Court in WRTL is insufficient to save it. Accordingly, the Court should strike down § 203 as facially unconstitutional and overrule that portion of McConnell that holds otherwise.

This brief addresses only that question. It does not address the additional question raised by this Court’s reargument order: namely, whether Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), should be overruled. However, if Austin is overruled and the ban on express advocacy by corporations and unions is struck down, then the ban on “electioneering communications” in § 203 would necessarily fall as a consequence.

Even if Austin is not overruled, § 203 is unconstitutional precisely because it extends beyond the express advocacy at issue in Austin. The history of the McConnell litigation, as well as campaign finance litigation before and after McConnell, demonstrates that there is no precise or predictable way to determine whether or not political speech is the “functional equivalent” of express advocacy.

The decision in WRTL correctly recognized that the BCRA’s prophylactic ban on “electioneering communications” threatened speech that lies at the heart of the First Amendment, including genuine issue ads by nonpartisan organizations like the ACLU. But the reformulated ban crafted by this Court in WRTL continues to threaten core First Amendment speech. Its reliance on the hypothetical response of a reasonable listener still leaves speakers guessing about what speech is lawful and what speech is not. That uncertainty invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. It will also lead many speakers to self-censor rather than risk sanctions or undertake the expense of suing the FEC prior to speaking, especially since most suits will not be resolved until long after the speech is timely and relevant.

In short, § 203 was a poorly conceived effort to restrict political speech and should be struck down.

How to get on the terrorist watch list


Impersonate an astronaut? Criticize defense contractors? I have no idea. But at the airport, welcome to the tertiary security check delay, where they dust your hands for potential explosive residue.

“Dust” in an antiquated term relating to the dust detectives used to sprinkle at crime scenes to make fingerprints more visible. These days they “wipe” objects with chemically treated cloths to register the presence of particular substances. The pH strip meets the Swiffer.

I have lost all sense of a control passenger to measure what security measures subjugate the average citizen, as most of my friends do qualify as “persons of interest” to the increasingly hostile corporate atmosphere.

I dropped Protester X off at the bus stop on Lake Circle, between the two roundabouts and went to park the car. I’d left her to don her spacesuit and walk the quarter block to the corner where we’d hold a banner at the Broadmoor’s main entrance. As I doubled back along the sidewalk, I could hear the convention center security radios squawking one after another. “We’ve spotted one by the parking structure” they rang out in alarm. From the next I heard: “She’s at the El Pomar Exit, moving south.” A security official sped by me on a three-wheeled Segway.

By the time I reached my colleague, her new wheeled escort was poised impassively behind her. Here she was, peace flag in hand, looking every bit like a moon walker coming toward me on the sidewalk, with Broadmoor’s grumpy head of security having no sense he was spoiling the imagery. He rolled quietly behind and past us as we assumed our stance on the lawn, and I explained to my fellow astronaut the walkie-talkie hullabalu which had announced her landing. The now usual, annual steps for man, hoping for peace in space, a not inconsiderate leap of faith for mankind.

I’ve had no trouble at airports, perhaps because my actions are an open book. Someone with fewer records or an indeterminate daily schedule, might perhaps rate a question mark on security agency lists.

It’s become more than an inconvenience. Whether your political opinions score the watch list, the no-fly list, or the permissible to assassinate while overseas list, your freedom of expression is abridged.

Informal Denver bloggers convention

Incognito bloggers at Churchill Trial

Academic Press stringerDENVER- Blog wonks filled the courtroom today to witness the closing arguments of Freedom of Speech on trial. The twin Rocky Mountain News fiends were on hand, as were plenty of their blogosphere stringers. Can you help us put names to some of these faces? Confidential emails to editor@notmytribe will serve just fine. We have a most benevolent motive to shed light on nocturnal anti-socials.

Isn’t it awkward, that those in support of Ward Churchill, to draw the battle lines in terms of this trial, have no qualms being represented publically, but those opposed, even as they think themselves to represent the mainstream, are fiercely protective of their anonymity? How weirdly weak of them.

PART DEUX
Alright, it didn’t begin innocently. During the first courtroom break today, I was aiming my camera at the video media grotto, because my earlier photo had been taken with a cellphone, but also so that I might have a pretense to shoot wide and grab an image or two of some heretofore faceless note-takers, when a woman in the vicinity strode over to ask that I not take her picture.

I noted that I was sure her back had been turned, if even she was in the frame, but it mattered not, and she insisted that I show her the picture and then delete it in her presence. I acquiesced reluctantly, only because I had better things to do than argue with a “lawyer” about what right she had to ask me to do anything. But it didn’t end there. When I moved to intercept a friend with whom I urgently needed to speak before the break was over, the woman followed me, insisting that I prove that I hadn’t other exposures in which she was featured. She wouldn’t stop interrupting until I had found others, and deleted them, after which she walked away, her head turned back, facing me with a mock smile and wave, as if to verify that I wasn’t trying to take another picture of her back.

I thought the strange episode was over, until I reentered the courtroom to see the woman point me out to a companion, both of them seated in the front row reserved for the press, from which they alternated giving me cold stares and taking snapshots with a cellphone. WTF? At the finish of that session, the woman approached me again, wanting to apologize for the rude tact she’s taken. I accepted, but it seemed she also wanted to explain.

I had pressing contacts to pursue, but she followed me again, and grew vocally agitated anew, this time that I would not stop to hear her story. By the time we exited the courtroom, her harangue had grown embarrassing. I no longer had her image on my camera, she knew that, what claim did she have to detain me a moment further and impede what little courtroom social time remained?

When I finally turned, I had my camera in hand and began to take flash pictures as I asked her to please leave me alone. Instead she and her friend closed in, trying to block my lens, yelling until you could call it a melee and others were taking our picture, and Ward Churchill was emerging from the courtroom on the sidelines.

Ward Churchill trial

Now I had plenty of head shots, and shouted explanations –coordinated between the two friends– that the original objection was due to her sensitivity about her fat butt, and a fresh request that I show sympathy for her awful complexion. In the light of the crowd’s scrutiny I was able to walk away, but next they sought out the courtroom officer to request that I surrender my photographs. He wasn’t unprincipled enough to assert that I was obligated to do that, and he was satisfied that I wield my camera with more discretion lest I accidentally record an image of a juror, giving cause for a retrial. I accepted his advice, but the two shrews kept up their complaining to him until we left the courthouse for lunch.

her aggressive friendAfter lunch the strange woman kept to the media circles. I’d noticed a lanyard about her neck, but whatever ID hung upon it she’d stuffed into a front pocket, perhaps to conceal an identity, perhaps to pretend it was a press pass. Later in the courtroom I noticed her again, this time beyond the audience area, across the banister, chatting with two courtroom workers.

I’ve no idea her story. Does it strike you odd? Why would anyone presume their photograph was going to end up online. Now, with ample cause, in response to harassment.

CU lawyer thinks it was Ward Churchill who may have violated 1st Amendment

Colorado State Court Room 6
DENVER- CHURCHILL TRIAL, DAY TWO. University of Colorado defense attorney Patrick O’Rourke wanted the jury to understand that Freedom of Speech was a complicated matter. He asked Dean of CU’s law school, David Getches, to confirm “Is First Amendment Law hard?” “Yes it is.” “Are you an expert on First Amendment law?” “No, I am not.” O’Rourke also got former Governor Bill Owens to admit the First Amendment concept was “tricky.” But no one could have conveyed it better than O’Rourke himself. He described how CU scoured Professor Ward Churchill’s work “to look for First Amendment violations.” Pretending to detail the school’s concern for protecting Churchill’s academic freedom, O’Rourke explained that when it was concluded that Churchill’s 9/11 Little Eichmann essay was protected speech, CU set about to find other instances where “what he said might violate the First Amendment.”