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Colorado Springs police win round one against socialists, convince local jury that free speech obstructs order.

CONVICTED! The March 26, 2017 arrests of socialist marchers finally came to trial last Friday. We were all found GUILTY! OF MARCHING! YES! Because that’s a crime in Colorado Springs. It's disguised as a misdemeanor offense called “Obstruction.” On the other hand, all four defendants were acquitted of the more serious charge of Failure to Desist or Disperse, of which we were equally culpable, if you consider the police dispersal order lawful. While a complete not-guilty verdict would have been more comforting, and of course just, the silver lining is that we can now appeal this decision to a higher court. Appeal Next time round, the judge’s prejudice, the prosecution's dishonesty, the police misconduct, and the impropriety of applying an obstruction ordinance to curb protest, can be reviewed by adjudicators with more authority, whose decision can set legal precedence. Though appealing to higher wisdom in Trump's America has become a crapshoot. The kangaroo aspect of municipal courts does get tiresome. Our railroading was well oiled so our court scheduled only one day of trial. Six to ten officer testimonies, plus ours, plus the various surveillance and body-cam videos, seemed sure to expend more than a day. We played along, hoping to spare the charade no more time than it deserved. We were also confident a jury could not fail to see through the preponderance of bullshit. Ours seemed a sympathetic jury with smiles and eye contact. They rolled their eyes at the police overreach. We sympathized with their having to upend their schedules to listen to the bullshit and so we wanted to hurry it along for their sake. We abbreviated our testimonies and our cross-examinations of the idiotic cops to spare the jury excess misery. At the same time we feared a contempt charge from the judge if our testimonies strayed into subjects the judge had forbidden us to mention to the jury. Like the Outrageous Governmental Misconduct. Censored topics The verdict should not have been a surprise. Earlier in the week the judge forbid defense attorneys from instructing the jury about the First Amendment. And so Friday’s jury had only to decide, were they out on the street or not? None of us disputed being in the street, which the prosecutors defined as obstructing traffic, therefore we were found guilty. Judge Kristen Hoffecker’s rationale for eliminating the standard First Amendment jury instruction, and prohibiting defense lawyers uttering the phrase “First Amendment Rights” was because prosecutors argued the charge of obstruction had nothing to do with free speech. But what charge does? If a law overtly infringes on free speech, it would be held unconstitutional. As a result, police and city prosecutors use tangential offenses to criminalize protesting. Obstruction is a local favorite. If police officers don't understand the First Amendment enough not to violate it, and city lawyers don't respect it enough to persist with prosecutions, and judges don't know enough to throw out abusive charges, are we really to expect common citizens sitting in the jury box to know where they're supposed to

Who is this El Paso Sheriffs undercover infiltrator provocateur? We don’t care!

COLO. SPRINGS-- Lawyers for the city are fighting defense team efforts to expose who, how, when and why local law enforcement agencies infiltrated a campus political activist group. The 2017 undercover operation was revealed in CSPD bodycam videos, but city courthouse lawyers and judges are preventing the evidence from being made public. Alerted to the October 17 evidentiary hearing meant to shed light on the bodycam video, journalists and news crews instead witnessed stonewalling by city attorneys but made to look like a disorganized defense. They saw municipal Judge Kristen Hoffecker blame the defendants for not submitting to a sham proceding, when the judge should have confessed that the defense's subpoenas had not been honored. Today the city learned that our defense team went around them and served the subpoenas directly, requiring the responsible law agency parties to testify as witnesses at an evidentiary hearing on November 3. Now the city wants to use a November 1 status hearing to quash the subpoenas. What's the big deal? The city asserts the confidential identity of its undercovers is a stake. That is of course the least of it. The city's own evidence against the defendants, accused of marching in the street on March 26, 2017, documents police officers deciding to issue tickets. What's clear from the video is that the police issued tickets, not to cite wrongdoers, nor to halt law-breaking, but to 1) "identify everyone", 2) arrest an undercover agent, and 3) disperse a lawful assembly. It's all on tape. When defendants first grasped what they were seeing on the bodycam video, they brought it to the attention of the various municipal court judges who take turns directing the daily court matters. Asked to produce the written reports generated by the officers on the video but missing from the discovery evidence, the judges declined. Asked to subpoena the officers involved, the judges declined. After each defendant's pro se arguments were rebuffed, one motions hearing after the other, the defendants sought legal help. Actually Judge Hayden Kane II did eventually grant a hearing to look into the video, but he told us he'd already watched it in private and was not inclined to find it relevant, so defendants were not encouraged that his opinion would change. In the meantime civil rights lawyers were highly interested in the police activity documented by the video. They submitted 20 pages of argument for the dismissal of charges against the defendants, citing outrageous police misconduct in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 23. They requested that the sheriff, the police chief, the commander of CSPD intelligence, and others named and unnamed, be subpoenaed to testify at an evidentiary hearing on October 17. That didn't happen, as everyone saw. The subpoenas didn't even go out. The October 17 hearing misfire was simply the latest of months of attempts by the defendants to bring this story to light. This time around the city wasn't given the chance to sit on the subpoenas, they've been served directly. On

City plan to snuff socialist infiltration hearing blows up in courtroom’s face

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO-- If you attended today's evidentiary hearing about the police infiltration of a local student group, you are no doubt left wondering what happened. Where were the defendants and why was the judge so angry? The outcome was not what either side wanted, but still it was a huge false step for the city. The defense was not provided the police witnesses it requested, but the prosecution was prevented from quashing those subpoenas outright. As a truant co-defendant, I had a unique vantage point on today's anticlimax and I apologize I was unable to explain it in person. Today's hearing, it turns out, was supposed to exclude the defendants. The review of evidence relating to the police infiltration operation was intended to happen outside of public view. The lawyers signed the setting slips, not the defendants, who were kept uninformed of the October 17 hearing. The judge had specified lawyers only, to keep the details and identities of the undercovers confidential. Can courts exclude defendants from their own hearings? Not really, but anyway. It turns out the judge wanted privacy because she had no intention of conducting the hearing at all. Without an audience to offend, this judge planned to summarily quash the defense motions to make police administrators testify and that would be the end of it. Objections be damned, let the lawyers take it up on appeal. Push this hot potato off a year or two. However, through documents obtained directly from the courthouse, the defendants did learn about the hearing. So the defendants made plans to attend the hearing regardless of a judge's preferences, and they publicized the event for what it promised to be, a scandalous exposé of CSPD intelligence overreach. Subpoenaed to testify were El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey, Lieutenant Mark Comte of the CSPD Intelligence Divison, and Sergeant Clayton Blackwell, among others. Colorado Springs prosecutors did not inform the defense team that they had no intention of honoring those subpoenas. Instead they planned to motion to quash the subpoenas and truncate the hearing. The city attorneys did not file those motions beforehand nor give the defense any indication they were contesting the subpoenas. I can only surmise that the city prosecutors began receiving calls from the media about the anticipated testimony of the sheriff and chief of police, because it wasn't until late morning on the day of the hearing, after our press release went out, that the city emailed the defense team to say that "Sgt Blackwell is on vacation." Blackwell wouldn't be attending the hearing, they said, and by the way, his was the only subpoena delivered. To which I imagine our legal team said: WTF?! Now we needed a hearing to learn why the city thought it could unilaterally decide to whom to deliver our subpoenas. It's one thing to disrespect the rights of defendants. Our municipal court does it ALL THE TIME. Everyday, sadly. In fact, it's done it repeatedly to the very defendants in this case, before

Colo. Springs police disperse March 26 anti-imperialism rally because it was easier than listening to socialists

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- Local socialists assembled at City Hall on Sunday to "March Against Imperialism". After a brief march and an half-hour rally while encircled by CSPD, the socialists were informed they were "free to carry on with their assembly" but whoever lingered would be issued a citation for having been in the street. Making no distinction for who had and who hadn't, the police began handcuffing participants and the couple dozen others quickly dispersed. Five socialists were issued citations for "pedestrian in the highway" and "failure to disperse" while another was arrested and detained for failing to show an ID while filming the police. That person was taken to the downtown police station and held until officers finally informed her of the charges for which she was being cited, after which she identified herself. Throughout her detainment, multiple officers kept up a harassment of questions, refusing her requests that she contact her lawyer. CSPD never issued an order to disperse, a fact that is borne out by witness video. But in effect that is what the officers accomplished. They threatened the legal assembly with citations, for failure to disperse! It made a funny scene. Around thirty self-declared socialists, blockaded by eight sometimes more CSPD cruisers, in a standoff that lasted until the police lost their patience. Socialists spoke against imperialism, the police officers being their main audience that quiet Sunday downtown. Immediately as the march had ended the police had announced that anyone stepping back into the street would be arrested, and so no one did. But a half-hour of speeches proved too much for the officers to bear and so they interjected again, this time to discuss the problem they had with what had happened earlier. We told those officers they were of course free to discuss such matters individually with whoever they considered a person of interest, BUT AFTERWARD, because they were otherwise interrupting our legal assembly. But the officers persisted in their interruption, deciding after the fact what charges to bring, regardless that they'd forgotten to provide the evidence to back them up. "See you in court" they laughed! We've heard that before. On a serious note. What happened Sunday could have a chilling effect on the nascent kick-ass Colorado Springs Socialists. Unwarranted police attention is an unhappy tradition for socialist organizers, from anarchists to trade unions. Sunday’s denouement confirms all their parents’ worst worries, the folly of declaring yourself to be a socialist in a regressive backwater like Colorado Springs. People were arrested? Handcuffed?! Now you're on a police watch list! I remember my father's alarm when he learned his college sophmore had a subscription to Mother Jones Magazine. Fun as it was, Sunday's event was essentially uneventful: no altercations, no property damage, not even rhetoric to threaten infrastructure. Minus any media attention, or much of an audience at all on a sleepy Sunday evening, these socialists were determined to parade their dissent where and how those around could see, and reaped more law enforcement than the

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