The First Amendment protects Americans’ freedom of speech and assembly. Unfortunately, at various times in US history, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have disregarded these protections, targeting people or groups based on political viewpoint, religious affiliation, or participation in lawful protests. The advent of the internet as the new “town square,” has opened a new front in the battle to protect free speech and assembly, and new technologies make it easier for the government to track our communications and movements both on and offline, inhibiting our willingness to dissent.
Undercover agents have infiltrated law-abiding activist groups, police have beaten and tear-gassed protesters at peaceful protests, and people are considered suspect merely because of their real or perceived Islamic faith. On the internet, police and intelligence agencies monitor social media and speech that should be protected by the First Amendment is considered evidence of “material support for terrorism.”
Dissent is being criminalized by DHS Terror Threat Assessments that name environmentalists, practicing Muslims or people with Ron Paul bumper stickers as potential terrorists, by legislation that conflates activism with terrorism (as in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), and by over-policing at protests and restrictive “free speech zones.”
Yesterday, we won twice. Amid the onslaught of bad news this year, it’s nice to see a couple of rays of hope.
The six defendants in the first J20 trial have been found not guilty. The charges against the remaining defendants must be dropped and Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff must resign immediately.
The Brea, California, City Council will consider an anti-protest ordinance at their meeting tonight.
Prosecutor Tells Jurors In Trump Inauguration Protest He’s Sick of the Chant “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” And That He Assumes They Are Too
The first of the closing arguments in the trial of Trump Inauguration protesters took place on December 14, 2017. Closing for the government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rizwan Qureshi put the government’s bizarre legal theories and claims on full display
“The dismissal of the felony charge is a tremendous victory for the six defendants, their attorneys, and the activists who have mobilized to support them. We, nonetheless, are deeply disturbed by the failure to dismiss the other seven charges, including five counts of property damage, conspiracy to riot, and engaging in ariot. In her ruling, Judge Leibovitz endorsed some of the most disturbing arguments of the prosecution.”