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Protest for me but not for thee

Digby first quotes Chris Hedges detailing the viciousness with which a judge is dealing with an Occupy protestor

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.

By the way: about her charge

The charge against Ms. McMillan was filed after a March 17, 2012 confrontation when demonstrators celebrating the six-month anniversary of the movement returned to Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, four months after their eviction. Police officers were making arrests, prosecutors said, when Ms. McMillan elbowed Officer Grantley Bovell, injuring his eye. She could face up to seven years in prison if the jury finds her guilty.

When she resumes her testimony Wednesday, Ms. McMillan is expected to say that Officer Bovell grabbed her breast from behind, and that she threw her elbow reflexively. Grainy video footage presented at trial appears to show McMillan hitting Officer Bovell, but doesn’t definitively show if it was intentional or not.

So we have a snippet of a case in which specifically non-violent protestor, who were well-organized and completely unarmed (outside of having the facts) , who is having all manner of defense denied to her and in which she didn't do much of anything wrong, except piss off the System.

Digby observes

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.
Digby goes on to observe that the fed did overreach and other ways way could likely be found to settle what is mostly a collection of fees issue, 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.

That's what I have thought: nice to see as reputable a source echoing my perspective on the matter.

Nonviolent protesters seeking organized change via the rules of the USA are harassed and ruined and threatened with jail while armed scofflaws who owe the USA millions are allowed to draw down on them as a way of not cooperating with paying those fees. And the government backs down and has yet to do jack about it.

But man, they sure can come down hard on an unarmed Occupy protester.

It really does send a message that guns get you what you want and following the rules gets you in trouble. And that an elbow is far worse than pointing a gun.

If people ask "what about the system is broken", this is a faaaabuouls example.

On Edit It has been brought to my attention I have conflated "fed" with "non-fed' and that The Manhattan DA's office is prosecuting her not the US Attorney.

I think it remains a 'broken system" issue nonetheless.

Originally posted to DFH Local No 420 on Sun May 04, 2014 at 11:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Protest Music, Subversive Agitation Team Action Network, and Team DFH.

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