The Jefferson 1 Press Release
Dancing for Freedom in Public Will Get You Arrested
Jefferson Memorial Visitor Charged with “Interfering with an Agency Function”
Washington, D.C., April 15, 2008— A DC resident celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to our nation’s founding was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial on Saturday night, April 12th. Now known as “The Jefferson 1,” 28 year-old Brooke Oberwetter and approximately 20 other fans of the founders’ ideas were present at the monument in celebration of Jefferson’s birthday.
The revelers gathered just before midnight to silently dance with iPods and headphones in front of the statue of Jefferson, who once noted that “Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness.” The celebration was intentionally scheduled late at night—the memorial is open 24 hours a day—in order to not disturb other visitors.
Shortly after the dancing began, U.S. Park Police officers began forcibly pushing people toward the steps. According to witnesses, an officer approached Oberwetter, who was near a wall in the chamber, talking to friends, and standing in place “bopping” to the beat of Rob Base’s 1988 classic “It Takes Two.” The officer, later identified as Officer Hilliard, badge number 246, unit D-1, asked her to leave and physically pushed her toward the outer chamber of the memorial.
Oberwetter repeatedly asked the officer what rule or law she was breaking and why she was being asked to leave. The officer responded that she was being “noisy” and “disrespectful” before shoving her against a column and placing her in handcuffs, all under the watchful stare of the 19-foot statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Oberwetter did not resist and went quietly with the officers.
Although initially charged with disorderly conduct, the charge was later reduced to “interfering with an agency function” under Title 36, Sec. 2.32 of the code of federal regulations. Oberwetter was released from custody over 5 hours later, and a court date has been set for April 29, 2008.
Pete Eyre of Bureaucrash, who was present at the event, noted, “This incident speaks volumes about the status of our rights in 2008 America.” Jason Talley, who organized the Thomas Jefferson Dance Party and shot the video available at FreeTheJefferson1.com, concluded, “Thomas Jefferson would be very dissatisfied.”
FreeTheJefferson1 was formed to advocate that the unjust charges against Brooke Oberwetter be dropped and that she receive an apology from the U.S. Park Police.
Bureaucrash is an international network of individuals dedicated to fighting government control through creative activism.