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ETpro's avatar

Is there a defense fund for protesters wrongly arrested while exercising their constitutional rights?

Asked by ETpro (34428points) October 26th, 2011

I’m not talking about people who resort to violence or destruction of property. But the YouTube videos are damning. Most of the arrest are peacefully protesting. They have the constitutional right to assemble, to petition their government for redress of grievances, and to exercise free speech. I want to donate to a fund to pay for each and every such arrest to be appealed as far as possible up through the courts till the system is so overburdened that Judges have no choice but to respect the Constitution.

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25 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I have no idea, but that is the greatest darn idea, ever. We can start with the woman that was pulled by her hair across the street, and the woman that was punched in the face.

amujinx's avatar

The National Lawyer’s Guild I know is giving free advice at the protests. I believe in some cases they are giving free legal aid to protesters legal cases as well. I’m not entirely sure they how much they are helping in the bigger picture, though. I know they are working at getting the charges dropped on all those that were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge awhile ago though.

njnyjobs's avatar

The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases in which it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Even when the ACLU does not provide direct legal representation, it often submits amicus curiae briefs. The organization’s present aims include getting the U.S. government to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government assassination lists.

Blackberry's avatar

@njnyjobs I was unaware, thanks for that.

anartist's avatar

Why not check that out on the Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy DC sites

CaptainHarley's avatar

I certainly hope so. I’m going to try and attend the “Million Veteran March” on November 11 in DC.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry Thanks.

@amujinx There needs to be a robust enough fund and cadre of sympathetic lawyers to take each wrongful arrest case to trial, not try to get the charges dropped. People are being blackmailed to stay away from future protests after arrest. Police are telling them if they go back and are arrested again, they will be fingerprinted, listed in a national database, and potentially put on a list of subersives the DHS supposedly maintains. The threat may just be a bluff. These people certainly are not international terrorists. But the threat is scaring some people. Personally, I’ll stand in their place to get myself arrested, and I will fight any bogus charges. And I asked here before searching because I wanted to spread the seeds of the idea.

@njnyjobs The link is much appreciated. Thanks.

@CaptainHarley Good for you. I imagine my son will go to. I served in the Navy, but never was sent into Nam. It hadn’t really heated up when I went through.

amujinx's avatar

@ETpro I agree with your points. I just know the National Lawyer’s Guild was involved in some extent. Like I said, I’m not sure how far reaching they are actually going. I was sharing what I did know as at least one starting point to get the information that you were looking for.

CaptainHarley's avatar


It’s a long way though, and getting on toward Winter, and I’m old. Sigh! I’ll have to ride the Harley about 3,000 miles round trip and don’t know if I’ll be able to make it. Got a lot of thinking about this to do. : ((

ETpro's avatar

@amujinx Thanks for the connection. Every additional resource identified is valuable.

@CaptainHarley Can’t you catch a ride with a fellow vet who’s driving?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Don’t know if any are going.

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley Best of luck getting there, my friend. Anybody remember when, in the depth of the Depression, the WWI vets camped out in front of the White House demanding the $1,000 benefit they had been promised? They were called the Bonus Army. General McArthur used mounted troops and tanks to disperse them.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I remember reading about that, yes. Just a bit before my time. : )

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

There is not only a defense fund, but there is now a phone app for access to legal defense that one can send with previously punched-in data and can send off at the touch of a button while being arrested. I saw this on one of the cable news channels, but I can’t find it anywhere on the net. An excellent idea.

From what I’ve read about the Bonus Marchers, Gen. Douglas McArthur imperiously watched while his junior officer Maj. George S. Patton charged them with his cavalry on horseback (there is a famous picture of Patton on horseback with sword drawn on civilians in a fog of teargas in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue just a few blocks from the White House) followed by tanks and foot soldiers with fixed bayonets and teargas. Up until that moment, the Bonus Marchers thought the 3rd Cav. Reg. was marching with them.

Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower is said to have grave misgivings about the US Army taking on the job of arresting veterans. He later said of McArthur: “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there,” he said later. “I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff.”

ETpro's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Yes, and President Herbert Hover watched from the White House as the tent city (quite organized and kept immaculately clean by the vets) went up in flames. Then he retired for a good night’s sleep.

Whne newsreel footage of it began to be displayed before the movie across America, there was a tremendous unwell of support for the veterans. The move utterly backfired against Hoover and the Republicans. And this may have been the first public demonstration of the Caesar complex that eventually got McArthur fired by President Truman.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It’s always the smallest details I find most interesting in history. These men and women began marching across America in mere rivulets beginning in the northwest logging camps of Washington and Oregon and the migrant labor camps of the San Joaquin Valley in California, across the Sierras and desert southwest, becoming streams of unemployed by the time they made it over the Rockies and onto the Great Plains and a torrent by the time they crossed the Mississippi to join up with the Chicago and Midwest veterans, the dispossessed from the Appalachian mines, the silenced factories of the northeast and textile mills of the south before entering Washington. They naively and rightfully thought that the government would respect their right to peaceful assembly and their petition for an early, badly needed bonus. I find this moment quite poignant:

By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton’s troopers turned and charged. ‘Shame, Shame’ the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd.

And then…

By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, ‘the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity.’

—Daniels, pp. 134–35.

There are two really good books on this. One was written soon after the event while eyewitness’ memories were still fresh and the other 39 years later through the filter of a generation who had also felt the night sticks a gas:
The Bonus March and the New Deal, John Henry Bartlett (1937)
The Bonus March: an Episode of the Great Depression, Roger Daniels (1971)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The veteran’s compensation law enacted by Congress over Calvin Coolidge’s veto in 1924 allowed for $5.00 per everyday the veteran (under the rank of Major) served abroad in WWI and $1.00 per day while serving stateside up to $625.00 to be paid out in 1945. With compound interest, the bond (in lieu of cash) would be worth an average of about $1,000.00 per veteran. But the national economic circumstances of 1932 encouraged the vets to ask congress for an early payout—at the 1932 value of the bonds. That is what rankled Washington so. The vets thought it was fair, anyway.

But the story of the Bonus March didn’t end with the Washington debacle.

Many people at the time said that Hoover’s reaction to the 15,000 Bonus Marchers in Washington put Roosevelt in the Whitehouse. Under the Roosevelt administration’s new Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), many of the former Bonus Marchers signed up for work on a huge new WPA construction project to extend US Route 1 (which ran from Fort Kent, Maine and terminated in Miami) from its southern terminus in Miami 130 miles to the city of Key West alongside Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad.

Three years after the March on Washington over 400 of these veterans, many claiming to be former Bonus Marchers, were among the estimated 1,000 workers and residents in work camps along the string of islands between Miami and Key West on Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys. On Labor Day, September 2, 1935 people watched with sickening apprehension as winds rose and the barometers plunged to 26.35 inches (892 mbar) – the lowest sea-level reading ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. By the time the storm hit the Keys at Islamorada the winds were near 200mph by modern estimates.

“At 8:20 that evening a rescue team – 11 (railroad) cars hastily sent from Miami and already loaded with refugees – reached Islamorada, on the Upper Matecumbe Key. Winds by then screamed at nearly 200 miles an hour (Cat. 5). The engineer, backing up to avoid a time-consuming turn-around, was blinded by waves surging across the track. At first he missed the little station where hundreds more (workers) waited.

“He pulled forward and people struggled toward the cars. Then a monstrous wave – survivors estimated it at 20 feet high – smashed in from the sea, engulfing the fleeing islanders and sweeping the cars from the track.

“Next morning, the Keys began counting their dead. Roughly half the bodies found were those of construction workers, victims of the Great Depression who were helping to build a highway parallel to the railway. Some 41 miles of the railroad had been smashed into a jumble of twisted rails and washed-out roadbed, drowning hundreds of World War I veterans who had gone down to pick up Depression wages of $30 a month working on the federal highway.”
—Henry Flagler, by David Leon Chandler, 1986, MacMillan Publishing, NY; p. 267.

It is impossible to tally the final count of the dead. At the time, the count was 408, 259 of them veterans. But for more than a decade after the Labor Day Hurricane, the bleached skeletal remains of victims were found suspended in the mangroves, buttonwood and cypress hammock from Matecumbe along the southern part of the Everglades to Cape Sable on the Southwest coast of Florida.

ETpro's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Seems nothing has changes in who Repubicans work for, and who they would just as soon crush.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@ETpro Yes, I agree, they seem to be truly mean in both the British and American sense of the word. But in the past couple of years it has become apparent that the difference between the Republicans and Democrats is the same as the difference between Rape and Date Rape: The Dems throw in a little sweet talk and maybe dinner and a movie first.

As long as the system of campaign funding and lobbying/bribery continues, as long as a thoroughly biased corporate media is in control of organizing the national debates, and as long as decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and the revocation of the FCC Fairness Doctrine stand, and as long as the concept of Corporate Personhood unchallenged, the people we elect to congress (except for a very few loose canons whom the press invariable describe as “whackos”) will always be loyal to the corporations that fund their campaigns, promote them during their terms, and arrange their sinecures after they “serve.” It is obvious to me that they do not represent the individual citizens who actually vote them into office. So, until the things listed above can be changed, prepare to get fucked, bro—either brutally after being violently dragged off into the ditch by an arrogant, sneering Republican or brutally after a few drinks with an oily, duplicitous Democrat.

The illusion that there is, in the end, an effective difference between the two political parties is what keeps us, the citizen voters, divided—and keeps us playing right into the hands of the corporate oligarchy who’s interest it is that we stay divided.

But we’ve discussed this before and I know I’m preaching to the choir, my friend. Excuse the compulsive repetition.

ETpro's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I totally agree. Until we get money out of politics, nothing will chage. It’s the same man behind both party’s curtains.

HungryGuy's avatar

Unfortunately, they can’t make it a law that the media can’t lie. For one, all fiction is, basically, a lie. And even if they made a law that the news can’t lie, that’s an impossible standard to hold someone to. If a news agency is held to criminal conduct if someone is misquoted, or repeats something reported by a national news service that’s not correct, think of the repression of free speech that would result. Yes, the presence of free speech means we must tolerate the existence of Fox News, but the alternative is far worse.

ETpro's avatar

@HungryGuy With a constiitutional amendment getting money out of politics and undoing the ridiculus right-wing court’s decision that Corporations are Persons, we could get the source of the money identified. We could at least know who’s paying so much money to convince us that Medicare and Social Security should be scrapped so we can cut taxes even more for the millionaires and billionaires. We could know who’s running the ads telling us we need to gut the EPA and deregulate pollution so the “free market” can manage it better. We could know who is pouring up to a billion dollars into the effort to repeal Ohio Governor Kasich’s union busting legislation. Out of state groups funded by the Koch Brothers and other corporate interests are pouring hundreds of millions each into the state to destroy unions.

HungryGuy's avatar

@ETpro – Well yes, I agree with that. Get the money out of politics, and require a strict accounting so that CEO A can’t slip politico B a few million in an envelope under the table.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Sorry about that. The Florida Court of Appeals ruling for FOX affiliate WTVT against Jane Acre and Steve Wilson was meant for another string. Further subversion of our Fourth Estate is monitored quite effectively at the University of California-Sonoma’s Project Censored at their website.

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