Yesterday, the Supreme Court turned its back on the First Amendment and denied the constitutional rights case challenging the mass false arrest of 700 people at an Occupy Wall St. protest. In refusing to consider the arrestees' appeal, the Court let stand a Second Circuit ruling that poses a clear and present danger to democracy, free speech and a free press.
The Supreme Court has declined to review whether it's legal for American police to mass-arrest peaceful protesters without first giving them a warning and an opportunity to disperse. "The Supreme Court has let stand a Second Circuit ruling that poses a clear and present danger to democracy, free speech and a free press," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and an attorney for the protesters. "It signals all those who would join a peaceful police-escorted demonstration, or report on it, that even if they comply with all police directives they can nonetheless be arrested with no warning and be subject to years of prosecution and possibly years of imprisonment," she says.
An important case defending the right of protesters against mass arrests may be headed for the Supreme Court. "The [lower] court, de Blasio and the NYPD are telling people that if you want to engage in peaceful First Amendment assembly, if you see a demonstration, if you join an activity that's visibly escorted by police — even if you think you're obeying the law — you can suddenly find yourself in jail with no notice, no warning, no opportunity to disperse," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. "And who can take that risk?"
"The superseding indictment is an unprecedented effort to explicitly charge people with acts they did not commit, that were committed by others, based solely on proximity and assumed shared political views. That basis for prosecution stands in direct violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression, assembly and association," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice.
PCJF Sends Open Letter to DC Council: Last-Minute Revelations Require There Should Be No Confirmation of Newsham Prior to Independent Investigation Into Police Actions of January 20, 2017 | Action Alert: Call the DC Council!
Carl Messineo, Legal Director of the PCJF, appeared on "Law and Disorder" Radio recently to discuss the Trump administration's attacks on consent decrees and police accountability in the United States with Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith.
Esquire magazine reports on the legal situation of hundreds of people arrested during protests at the Trump Inauguration, now facing felony riot charges and 10 years in prison simply for having been in proximity to a few other people who were breaking windows.
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