Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Letter from Illinois

(Update, and a Note from Scarlet: if these two spend so much as a day in jail I'm going there personally and making DuPage County look like Woodstock.)

Dear Friends,
Though nearly six months have passed since the beginning of this ongoing tale, it’s still hard for me to believe assaults on our Bill of Rights are happening right here in the “land of the free”, the place where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Back on May 6th, my friend Sarah and I peaceably assembled on a public walkway above a highway and exercised our freedom of speech. We displayed a homemade sign that read, “IMPEACH! Bush & Cheney – LIARS” alongside my U.S. flag (which hung Union side down to signal distress) for an hour and a half or so before an Illinois State Police officer arrived. He politely asked us to remove our display after expressing his concern that it might distract motorists and increase the risk of an accident happening. We took down our signs and were just about to leave when three DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and detained us. One Deputy, obviously angry based on his tone of voice and facial expressions, said he’d received a call that Sarah and I were throwing things onto the highway. He described our peaceful protest as “mayhem”, then told us he was a Veteran, had a son fighting in Afghanistan, and that our protest was disrespectful of the troops. We denied the false accusation about throwing stuff and attempted to explain our display’s intended message; that we’re experiencing an instance of dire distress because our leaders have betrayed us. We gave the officers our personal information. They investigated for a short while, and then released us without a citation. Before we left, the angry Deputy said he wanted to arrest us, would call the State’s Attorney, and that he hoped to see us again soon. I was arrested three weeks later and jailed for over seven hours. Sarah turned herself in a few days after that. We were charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ for allegedly breaching the peace by staging an anti-war protest without a permit and creating traffic disturbance because unknown objects were being thrown from the walkway and displaying the American flag in an upside down manner.

We’ve been to court five times since then. Along the way, two additional more serious counts ('reckless conduct 'and 'unauthorized display of sign', each punishable by up to a year in jail and $2500 in fines) were added to the original charge. The prosecutors offered us a plea bargain in which they’d drop the two extra charges in return for a guilty plea and 90 days court supervision on the first charge. Sarah and I refused the offer and demanded a jury trial. In the days leading up to our October 15th trial, our lawyers filed a motion to quash our arrests. As a result, the prosecutors dropped the “reckless conduct” and “unauthorized display of sign” charges and added a new “disorderly conduct” charge alleging we breached the peace by making throwing motions toward traffic. A hearing on that motion was scheduled for mid-December.

Sarah and I will not admit to doing anything we did not do, especially committing non-existent crimes. The only thing we’re guilty of is exercising the First Amendment. We demonstrated peacefully and well within our Constitutional Rights. We didn’t throw anything. We didn’t pretend to throw anything. And there were no traffic disturbances. Try as they may, the prosecutors won’t get a plea bargain out of us. Our heels are dug in deeply. With your support and our expert legal team behind us, we’re confident we will win this battle for Free Speech.

Our next hearing is at the DuPage County Criminal Court at 505 N. County Farm Rd in Wheaton, IL on December 13th, 2007, 9:30am, in Room 4007.


Anonymous said...

i wish i could be there in the courtroom in person to support you. many like-minded citizens in the pacific northwest will be watching your case closely. hang in there and keep fighting the good fight!

solidarity -


Anonymous said...

I wish I could be there too...
Dupage County tends to lean to the "red" side...
best of luck man!

Petaluma Deadhead

Anonymous said...

I wish i could be there too, but at least you are getting prayer/thought support across here in Great Britain.

I find it so sad that the 'Land of the Free' has become the land of 'The Laughing Stock' under this president.

The only trouble is six billion people across this world simply ain't laughing!!

Anonymous said...

Certainly if you were holding "Support Our Troops" banners the local constabulary would have done no more than ask you politely to leave (if that). Without witnesses convicting you of throwing or pretending to throw anything off the bridge will be dropped at the last minute. Then what will they have left?

I was leafletting outside a city owned building in DC back in 1990 and was told to leave. I refused. The police were called. The officer told me i would be arrested for loitering. There are no loitering laws in DC and i knew it. I refused to leave. He called in his commanding officer. There was nothing he could do either.

When i was done i went home.

chezdan9 said...

Sweet Jesus in a Biscuit! This is unbelievable! Won't the ACLU or some group like that come to your aid? I hear this broadcast on Air America called "The First Amendment Minute" with Atty. Derek Newman. Perhaps he could be contacted to either broadcast your story or give you legal support. I'm sure the local 'necks that pose as law enforcement would back down if they new your case would draw negative national attention.

Good luck.

Terrible said...

I do hope Deputy dog and Radical wingnut prosecutor are being criminally charged with false arrest and illegal harrassment prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Until you get a chance to post it i will post this link to a story someone posted on C&L.

Supporters rally for pair charged in protest.


Anonymous said...

Wow That suxs!

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has a game Politics as Usual.
We are comming out with more candidates next year for the new election year.

If anyone wants to support you I will donate 50% of the proceeds from our sales for buying a copy of Politics as Usual. To take advantage of this offer just email me and I will get your information down. oss_submissions at yahoo dot com

If it matters it was made 100% in the Usa. I think it is a pretty damn good game too! Gets people talking.

Anonymous said...

hop hypocritical of this so called cop the bush admin and there croneys have sold this war as somethin we need to do because they attacked us because of our freedoms now u have this guy doin exactly what our troops are supose to be protecting us from denying your right to express ur freedom of speech and and against unlawful arrest and prosecution mabey you can use that in your upcomming court case man that would be a hoot and a half