"There’s an Effort Around the Country to Curtail People’s Fundamental 1st Amendment Rights" — Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (Audio and transcript of interview)
If convicted, Wood faces between 70 and 80 years in federal prison. Critics have called the charges “arbitrary” and “unbelievably harsh” while the MPD has been accused of using excessive force in a bellicose attack of basic First Amendment rights.
FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) reviews the media coverage of the mass arrests of protesters at the Jan. 20 Inauguration of Donald Trump.
The Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) issued a report today criticizing the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for failing to abide by the law and refusing to release to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund documents regarding Chief Peter Newsham's controversial handling of the January 20th protests against the incoming Trump Administration.
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?"
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