Reader: Occupy Denver legal team member calls out ACLU over civil-rights case claims
Kelsey Whipple's recent post about Occupy Denver's legal team exploring legal precedents involving tents as examples of speech drew a sharp response from a member of the occupation's Legal Issues Working Group. His post focuses on both the aforementioned lawyers and the ACLU, which he feels could be doing more.
Rob Piper writes:
Interesting. I'm learning today that Occupy Denver has a '48 person legal team,' yet I don't recall seeing any of the 'legal team' on the lines at the protest. I and other members of the Legal Issues Working Group for Occupy Denver have worked tirelessly to record and document the brutal oppression of citizens at Occupy Denver, yet I've not met a single member of this 48-person 'legal team.' Are these all criminal defense attorneys? I've yet to see a single attorney take any civil action regarding the systematic suppression of speech by the Colorado State Patrol and Denver Police Department.
Criminal defense is important-but a successful petition for injunctive relief would STOP the arrests, in part or in whole. Why is this not a part of the legal strategy? Is Mr. Nadler unaware of the scores of successful petitions for injunctive relief that have been filed across the country? Is he unaware of the 14 separate cases which erode the restrictions established in Clark? You know, quite a bit has happened since Clark-Texas v. Johnson, Citizens United v. F.E.C., City of Minneapolis-St. Paul v. R.A.V., and many other cases have clearly reinforced the almost absolute right to free speech in the United States. Protecting the sanctity of military decorations, federal election law, and protecting the American flag itself are ALL outweighed by this important civil liberty -- and the cases that establish that ALL FOLLOWED Clark v. CCNV.
ACLU, I'm calling you out. Members of the Occupy Denver Legal Issues Working Group have REPEATEDLY called the ACLU and pleaded with them to get involved. Thus far, we have received nothing but refusals and assertions that there is no civil rights case to be made. I'm not a lawyer -- though I am a member of the working group. The rumor is that the ACLU needs more 'evidence' of state suppression of speech before making a civil case. Does anyone at the Colorado ACLU have a television? Is what occurred on Saturday insufficient justification for a civil rights claim? Can no one at the ACLU understand that hunting American citizens down in the streets of Denver with battalions of Gang Unit officers for 4 and one half hours might just chill free expression? I wonder if ACLU is waiting for a protester to be killed before getting involved. Would a protester's corpse be sufficient evidence? Is it necessary?
If you all don't want to get involved, so be it -- but be real. Stop claiming that there's no precedent for a civil rights case here -- because it's a bold-faced lie in my amateur opinion.
For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.