My day in court was an uneventful one. As expected, a weary judge found me and four other defendants guilty of trespassing in the General Assembly last June at the Mega Moral Monday event. Having made up her mind hundreds of times before, Judge Hamilton made quick work of our cases. No, a blogger who fails to disperse when ordered does not have the same privileges as a "real" journalist who fails to disperse. Similarly, a former legislator who was arrested does not really have permanent floor privileges. We were guilty, case closed.
After what happened this week in Raleigh, it's more clear than ever that charges against Moral Monday protesters were entirely discretionary, trumped up by Phil Berger, Thom Tillis, in collusion with the Capitol Police. The legislature has rewritten the rules so they can more easily restrict citizens exercising their rights. They have free rein to turn their political opponents into criminals. And they have a judge in their side pocket who will help them do just that. Judge Hamilton says she's sympathetic to the plight of arrestees, but that sympathy doesn't extend to not-guilty verdicts.
We have come to a dangerous place in our state’s history. It is a place where those who rule have given themselves the right to arrest and detain political opponents, using whatever discretion they wish.
I do not agree that the
Capitol General Assembly police acted lawfully to arrest and detain me. Theirs was an act of political oppression, pure and simple.
PS I offer my most heartfelt thanks to Mr. Gabe Talton, the tireless lawyer who stood with Jane and me through thick and thin, offering expert advice, creative ideas, and boundless enthusiasm for the cause. Gabe is one of many lawyers who are giving their time and energy to defend Moral Monday arrestees. Those of us who joined in the protest owe these attorneys a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you, Gabe. You're the best.