By: PeaceLoveSprayPaint | Sep 11, 2012 Featured
At issue, is Title 40 of the United States Code, Subtitle II, Part C, Chapter 61, Subchapter IV, Section 6135:
“It is unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”
On trial, Thi Le, Taylor Hall, David Barahona, William Silvester, Robert Cruz, Andrea Rea. Accused of violating this section of the code on January 20, 2012. The day was cold, more like frozen, and the court was barricaded, and a large number of cops was present.
The Government opens. The first witness, Officer Flick of the United States Supreme Court Police. During questioning by the Government, Officer Flick could not keep his story together, and under cross examination, completely fell apart. This would prove interesting for the defense, as the Government’s witnesses, all Supreme Court Police Officers, seemed to not know much about being on the witness stand. Watching the witnesses, specifically Officer Vanessa Torroella who was nervous and stammering through questioning by both the Government and defense as if she was hiding something, was embarrassing at best. Embarrassing in that this is the best our government can do in this trial.
Of the Government’s witnesses, the most useful for the defense was Officer Anthony Dziak, the arresting officer that day. This curious thing about Officer Dziak, was that arresting officer does not mean what it sounds like. This officer was in charge of the arrested, as in the booking and interviewing of arrests etc. As such, he did not actually witness the arrests themselves, and had “No idea” why Ms. Le was arrested, just that she was on her chest screaming as she was cuffed. The same with Mr. Barahona. And only observed Mr. Hall unconscious. He was not present at the actual times of arrest.
As for the timetable of events, the government’s witnesses could agree on the following:
-At about 1pm, protesters had come across the street from the Move to Amend Rally;
-At about 1:30pm, the barricades came down;
-At about 1:40 pm, the protesters came to where the police were on the steps, at about the second step up from the public sidewalk;
-At about 2:28, after the police themselves broke their own line to take positions on the upper landings of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court Chief of Police began to issue the first verbal warning;
-At about 2:30, the second warning was issued;
-At about 2:32 the third warning was issued.;
They obviously at least had this part very rehearsed. None of the officers had observed any of the defendants with a sign, banner, flag or device to display a message. This would turn out to be very important to the defense. The officers did not observe any of the defendants removing the barricades.
The officers did observe the defendants participating in a “Mic Check”, a form of communication for a large group. Interestingly, before the trial had started, the defense and the Government did agree not to talk about Occupy. In fact, every time the word occupy came up, there was a sustained objection.
After the Government rested their prosecution case, the defense filed for a motion to dismiss some of the charges. Specifically the charge of unlawful entry to the Supreme Court grounds, as there was no Order from the Marshall of the Supreme Court, there was nothing posted in advance or in plain view that the grounds were closed, and that the Chief of the Supreme Court Police does not have the same powers as the Marshall of the Supreme Court. Judge Fisher did grant this request, as there was nothing that the Government nor the testimony of the Government’s witnesses gave any indication of anything posted regarding the closure of the Supreme Court Grounds. One win for the good guys. Devastating blow for the Government.
The Defense then began it’s case. The previous time line was used and agreed upon, however there were stark differences in what happened. After the barricades came down, the police did form a line. However, the line itself was more staggered and more oval shaped on the steps. Testimony from Ms. Shelly Frisina, a National Lawyers Guild observer or “Green Hat,” noted that the Supreme Court Police had actually given up steps, and had broken their own police line, for whatever unknown and highly questionable reason. Of course, once the police gave up the line, and therefor the steps, the protesters could easily do as they please. By this time however, the group was much smaller. Ms. Frisina had observed the arrests of Ms. Le, Ms. Rea, and Mr. Cruz, who also appeared to be bloodied in some way, something the Government’s witnesses had not noticed about Mr. Cruz.
Mr. William Silvester didn’t arrive back at the Supreme Court until after lunch, sometime around 2pm, and according to his testimony, the barricades were already off to the side, the cops were in a staggered line, and no officer had blocked him in any way when walking up the steps to talk to some friends. He did admit to participating in a “Mic Check”, however. Mr. Silvester did attempt to talk to an officer at the top of the stairs, but was not given any answers to his questions. Mr. Silvester did not know that he was doing anything illegal. He was arrested about 10 minutes or so after he was on the steps, while chanting. He was not carrying any props of a demonstration, such as a flag, banner or sign.
All defendants who testified, with the exception of Mr. Hall, were asked by the government under cross examination only if they had a flag banner or sign, as if that was the only thing they could think of. The legal team of the defendants, Ann Wilcox, Mark Goldstone, George Lane and defendant pro se Thi Le, definitely had done their homework.
Ms. Andrea Rea was the next to testify. She is a 63 year old who was at the Move to Amend Rally and had gone across the street to continue that protest at what she called a “national symbol of justice”. She had come to the District of Columbia by herself and was not with any of the defendants prior to being arrested. Actually, none of the defendants had known each other before the action at the Supreme Court.
Ms. Rea had waited and chanted with the rest of the group, and when the police had broken their own line, she simply walked up the steps and sat down near the top. She had actually sat down due to a health problem, as she does have issues with high blood pressure and was worried about her health when she was on the steps, and did feel a sharp pain in her chest. At some point she was asked by police to leave, even as a reporter was asking here if she was OK, as Ms. Rea did have her head in her hands. Once she was arrested and taken to the inner annex of the Supreme Court with the arrested, she was asking about a lawyer and a phone call. The officer who was trying to question her about the day wanted to get testimony, he made it seem that if she cooperated with a statement she would have access to her phone call as well as be released sooner. Worried about her own safety, Ms. Rea did cooperate and give the officer a statement, but only to get her to a phone call and otherwise get her health taken care of. It actually is legal for the cops to bait an arrestee like this.
Mr. Barahona, also arrested on the steps, gave pretty much the same description of the behavior of the police, and was arrested, as he put it, “for meditating on the Supreme Court Steps.” Mr. Barahona also gave testimony about how on January 17th, there were no barricades on the steps, and people were free to move about the grounds of the Supreme Court, with or without flags, banners, or devices carrying a message. Selective enforcement of the law?
Mr. Taylor Hall was the next witness for the defense, questioned by attorney George Lane, who describes his style as “A lot of defense attorneys ask a lot of questions. I like to walk in, stab them in the heart, and leave,” which is always a good way to handle the Government. Mr. Lane proceeded to show evidence that Mr. Hall was inside the Supreme Court, looking at exhibits and the museum of the court, and was not aware of the chaos brewing outside. Mr. Hall was still unaware of the issue when he went outside and asked around, pretty much to only be tackled and arrested. He was not chanting, holding a sign, or anything else that would be a crime on the steps of the Supreme Court. These actual human being, who breathe, took a stand, took a chance, and felt that they had to compel what personhood meant. Being a person. Being a Human Being.
These are Human Beings.
Taylor Hall. A human being.
Thi Le. A human being.
Andrea Rea. A human being.
William Silvester. A human being.
David Barahona. A human being.
Robert Cruz. A human being.
Corporations are not people. We can’t arrest and shut down Goldman Sachs. Or Bank of America. We still can’t even audit the Private fucking bank of the Terrorist Federal Reserve. That is not just a private bank, its a SERCRET BANK.
We call ourselves Freedom Fighters. Yet in this land of freedom, we kill them on a daily basis. Yes, we have a lot of freedom here in the good Ol’ USA. But as you’ve seen, and need to see, protests are becoming more and more criminalized. These protesters, these good citizens, took to the streets, they took to the steps, to voice, to represent, and were charged.
Our Presidents take to the podiums to champion rights here and abroad. Yet that is hypocrisy. These Presidents, these officials of any rank, don’t know freedom.
In an era, started by the policies of Ronald Reagan, to hurt the worker, and give back to the rich, these policies of Dooh Nibor, we steal from those who have nothing to give to those who have everything.
We as a country were founded on the idea of constant expansion, where the idea was to expand and take care of the land.
We took and occupied this land on the idea of mutual respect.
Well we took it.
We had no respect.
We’ve run around, destroyed, taken, and let corporations kill everything in sight.
We the people, we want balance.
So we tried to take the Supreme Court. We tried to take the Capitol Building.
What we got was anti-protest laws, even though the First amendment says we can.
We Got This. These 6 people give us the the idea. These 6 gave up everything to take the court. They want nothing. Live the protest. Live the idea. Left or right. We are in this together. We are the future. Get on the streets.
Look up to these Six. And the other thousands arrested for speaking, in essence, the first amendment. Cause, it’s fucked. See ya at the Riot Cops.