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Hullabaloo


Sunday, May 04, 2014

 
Protest for me but not for thee

by digby

Chris Hedges catches up with the Occupy protester court proceedings:

Cecily McMillan, wearing a red dress and high heels, her dark, shoulder-length hair stylishly curled, sat behind a table with her two lawyers Friday morning facing Judge Ronald A. Zweibel in Room 1116 at the Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge seems to have alternated between boredom and rage throughout the trial, now three weeks old. He has repeatedly thrown caustic barbs at her lawyers and arbitrarily shut down many of the avenues of defense. Friday was no exception.

The silver-haired Zweibel curtly dismissed a request by defense lawyers Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg for a motion to dismiss the case. The lawyers had attempted to argue that testimony from the officer who arrested McMillan violated Fifth Amendment restrictions against the use of comments made by a defendant at the time of arrest. But the judge, who has issued an unusual gag order that bars McMillan’s lawyers from speaking to the press, was visibly impatient, snapping, “This debate is going to end.” He then went on to uphold his earlier decision to heavily censor videos taken during the arrest, a decision Stolar said “is cutting the heart out of my ability to refute” the prosecution’s charge that McMillan faked a medical seizure in an attempt to avoid being arrested. “I’m totally handicapped,” Stolar lamented to Zweibel.

The trial of McMillan, 25, is one of the last criminal cases originating from the Occupy protest movement. It is also one of the most emblematic. The state, after the coordinated nationwide eradication of Occupy encampments, has relentlessly used the courts to harass and neutralize Occupy activists, often handing out long probation terms that come with activists’ forced acceptance of felony charges. A felony charge makes it harder to find employment and bars those with such convictions from serving on juries or working for law enforcement. Most important, the long probation terms effectively prohibit further activism.

I wonder what the defenders of Cliven Bundy have to say about this? My recollection is that they complained a lot about cleanliness. I don't recall any right winger stepping up to defend the right of these people to protest --- and I haven't heard a thing from the "tree of liberty" folks about the legal system dealing with peaceful protest in this way. I guess if you don't have a gun in your hand you just aren't worth defending.

My personal feeling about Bundy is that the Feds and the cops did overreach -- they could have found a less confrontational way to deal with collecting the fines. I suspect they simply lost patience and wanted to make a point. That's usually how these things go. But the armed response by right wing militias and so-called "oath keepers" is even more dangerous. Let's just say it's pretty clear these folks weren't defending my freedom. And they never will.

Meanwhile, peaceful protesters are being harassed by the police and prevented from defending themselves through legitimate legal means by authoritarian judges.

Where do you suppose all this is going to lead?


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