As Brooke would say, “Loves it!”:
As Brooke would say, “Loves it!”:
If you’ve seen the videos, you know where the title comes from. It was the exclamation Jason yelled when he realized Brooke was being placed under arrest.
Why is that important?
Well, some commenters have suggested that we wanted this to happen and/or staged this. This is patently untrue–Jason’s genuine shock and dismay are testament to that. (And certainly, if this is what we planned all along, you’d think Jason would have stuck around in the room to witness the entire arrest.)
You can believe me or choose not to, but that’s the way it was. We hoped, sincerely, that after she was handcuffed and put in the side room that they would let her go –thinking perhaps they took her in there just to scare her or intimidate us so that we would disperse. Of course, when they put her in the van to take her to jail, we all knew that this was for real and we felt we had to do something.
In our network of friends, a large number of people know Brooke. So, as it was going down, we all got on our phones and started calling our friends with well-read blogs and asked them to get the information out there. Knowing Brooke, and understanding the value of the story, they obliged us with the needed publicity to bring public pressure on the Park Police.
Technology allowed us to get the word out quickly — it had nothing to do with pre-planning anything. There is no way we could have launched this 10– or probably even five — years ago to the effect that we have. Just like “Don’t Tase Me Bro” and other web-based phenomena, this is a result of people with access to new media (and a few sympathetic media contacts, admittedly) spreading the word to get people’s attention.
Was this the most egregious thing to happen in the country that night? No. It probably wasn’t even the most egregious thing to happen in DC. But the incident’s severity is not the point.
To that end, several people have complained that there are larger and more terrible issues which require our attention. While this is certainly true, it does not follow that because there are worse things happening in the country and world that this should just be forgotten about. Our friend’s liberty was taken away– for asking a question. This, while in the grand scheme of things not the worst thing to ever happen, is not remotely acceptable and we are working very hard to correct that.
The Park Police would like nothing better than for this story to go away. They understand that people have short attention spans and something else in the news cycle will invariably eclipse the J-1. But when that happens, the pressure will be off of them and they can go back to business as usual–and that may include treating more people like they treated Brooke.
The Park Police must understand that they must not treat citizens like this. They must be brought to answer for what they did, no matter how slight it may appear to outsiders who didn’t spend five hours in a jail cell. Just as individuals who break the law must endure penalties, so too must the government be held accountable when they abuse the substantial power they wield.
Brooke is fighting this, as well she should, and she needs your help to do so effectively. For information on the Defense Fund, go here. Please give what you can to make sure the Park Police know this will not be tolerated here.
If you live in the D.C. area, meet the J-1 (and most, if not all, of the fine authors on this site) at the Tech Liberation Front’s Alcohol Liberation Front Monday:
As if the excitement of hanging around with the TLF bloggers weren’t enough, we’re making the event a fundraiser for our friend (and former co-blogger), Brooke Oberwetter. Brooke was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial the other night – for dancing. Or perhaps for asking why dancing wasn’t allowed.
She needs funds to pay for legal fees, and you need an excuse to drink. It’s a match made in heaven!
Many thanks to Jim Harper, Tim Lee & co. for making this happen!
And no, she will not be able to answer specific questions about the case. (That especially applies to you, media.) Sorry. Blame her lawyer.
If you can’t make it to the event, you can still give today!
Brady Westling is discussing. Toggle Comments
It seems Jefferson scholars disagree on what exactly TJ would have to say about Saturday night’s happenings. To a mutual friend of liberty and in response to Professor Peter Onuf’s comments in the Washington Post today, Professor Robert M.S. McDonald of the United States Military Academy wrote this:
I’m surprised by [Professor Peter Onuf]’s take on this. He’s such a cool guy, I’m sort of surprised he wasn’t at the Dance Party. I’m guessing that the reporter may not have told him what actually transpired. For starters, it’s not clear that any laws were broken. And while Jefferson may have been “anal” about the enforcement of the law, he was emphatic that laws be just and focused on the protection of individual rights.
No doubt you’re familiar with Jefferson’s take on Shays’s Rebellion (see
his letter to Madison, 30 Jan. 1787…). If even an armed
uprising by people seeking to shirk their debts failed to upset him,
then he’d have no problem with people dancing around his statue.
More to the point, during the run-up to the Revolution, Jefferson and every other leading patriot sanctioned “extralegal” behavior designed to uphold Americans’ rights–so long as it was restrained. The Boston Tea Party is a fine example. Sam Adams and company dumped 90,000 pounds of taxed tea into the harbor, then reimbursed the captain of the Beaver for the padlock they had to bust in order to seize his ship’s cargo. I don’t think that any of the Jefferson dancers imagined that anyone would object to their behavior, but once the police intervened everything changed. What was intended as fun get-together suddenly became an act of civil disobedience.
Less forgiving, but along the same lines, Professor David Mayer at the Capital University Law school submitted this list of evidence:
To say Jefferson was “very anal about obedience to law,” as Professor Onuf does, ignores Jefferson’s lifelong commitment to natural rights (paramount to positive law), individual freedom, and, of course, limited government.
Some counter-examples or evidence that could be cited:
Jefferson’s open rebellion against British law and the presumed authority of King and Parliament, nicely expressed in the motto he chose for his personal seal: “Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God.”
In his Notes on the State of Virginia (explaining why government had no authority over matters of conscience), Jefferson wrote: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. (But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”) Taken as general rule, of course, application of Jefferson’s principle amounts to Herbert Spencer’s Law of Equal Freedom, or what modern libertarians call the no-harm principle: legitimate laws limit individuals’ freedom to act only in regard to actions that truly are injurious (in a direct way) to others (and more precisely, actions that abridge others’ rights.) (In this case, I’d say that a small group of people celebrating Jefferson’s birthday at the Jefferson Memorial (a public forum), causing no injury to any other person, did nothing in violation of any legitimate law. (And, obviously, general laws criminalizing “disorderly conduct” are notoriously vague and subjective and easily abused by the police.))
Jefferson reiterated this principle (and essentially his support for the libertarian view of limited government) in a report he prepared late in life as chairman of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, when he described as one of the basic principles of government: “a sound spirit of legislation, which, banishing all arbitrary and unnecessary restraint on individual action, shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of others.” (See my book The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (1994), pp. 76 & 344 n.56. As I generally note on p. 76, “Fundamental to Jefferson’s political philosophy was the idea that no government could legitimately transgress natural rights. In order for law to be binding, it not only must proceed from the will of properly authorized legislators but also must be `reasonable, that is, not violative of first rprinciples, natural rights, and the dictates of the sense of justice.'”)
Finally, of course, there’s Jefferson’s famous remark justifying rebellion to unjust laws, expressing his blithe reaction to Shays Rebellion in 1787 (apparently the remark Onuf was referring to): “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
It should be noted that neither Professor McDonald nor Professor Mayer endorse the Thomas Jefferson Dance Party, nor were they asked to. That said, they gave full permission for us to use their statements. And we are very grateful to them, and to Dr. Tom Palmer for putting us in contact with them.
This is a video that was shown to me by a criminal law scholar. I believe most— if not all —of the people associated with FtJ1 have seen this at one point or another. Brooke’s actions are congruent with these instructions with which we think you should become familiar–in spite of the fact that they did not work out for her in the short-term. Your best defense of your own rights is knowing them.
If I may make a personal comment here: given the amount of unwarranted pushing by the officer evident in the TJDP videos, I’m very glad that no one pushed back—even by reflex. The scene would have been much worse had that happened. Be firm, stand your ground, but under NO circumstances should you ever get physical with a police officer.
Robert Stacy McCain came up with this wanted poster for the Jefferson 1 which we all found very amusing:
This is the video posted this morning on YouTube. (Some language NSFW)
The word on our friend’s situation is spreading rapidly. While there have been other media (most notably fark and facebook) which helped get ideas and information out quickly, the eagerness to help by our friends in the press has been invaluable as we start this fight.
While the Fourth Estate arguably includes amateur bloggers, a special thanks must be given to the professional journalists who have exposed their considerable readership to our friend’s predicament. It has been increasingly apparent, to me and others, that journalists have become exceptionally important in rectifying injustices of all scopes around the world.
Lawyers, while quite beneficial, at times can only do so much. Often hampered by overwhelming caseloads of indigent clients, public defenders are heavily incentivized to plea bargain their clients, whether guilty or not. Our friend is fortunate to have educated and passionate people around her who are willing to aid her. Many people–e.g., the poor and minorities–do not have such luxuries and thus are helplessly thrust into a system that is fully weighted against them.
The fact that this happened should not surprise anyone. The fact that it does surprise people speaks directly to the reason we’re doing this — and why the journalists are essential to breaking more stories like these.
Thank you so much!
Andrew is discussing. Toggle Comments
I fully support the actions in support of our mutual friend whom was arrested last night. My post is cautionary, but should not be read as a discouragement of what we are doing…because I know that she is — and by extension that we are — right.
I think it is unfortunate that my friend has to go through all this. She has to tell to people that she was arrested, explain why, and somehow convince them that it wasn’t her fault…which it wasn’t. And, whether she wants to be or not, she is now a poster-child in our most recent “F- the state” efforts. While there can be perks to this last bit (e.g., becoming a minor-celebrity), that status neither pays bills nor protects privacy.
You can read the rest of the post here.