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  • blanksslate 7:12 pm on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    From The Commenters 

    As Brooke would say, “Loves it!”:

    Thanks Brian!

  • blanksslate 7:45 pm on April 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Holy F*****’ S***! 

    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.

    • Dean 8:20 am on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Brooke’s arrest for asking “Why?” reminds of the scene in The Pianist where a young woman asks “Where are we going?” and is promptly shot.

      How long before we get to that point in this country?

    • Don Berg 2:01 pm on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      In my post regarding this event I pose the question “What’s a Cop’s Job?” (http://blog.attitutor.com/2008/04/whats-cops-job-on-arrest-of-jefferson.html) There are both moral and practical issues at stake and it is important to articulate the moral issues clearly. In this case the severity of the particular event is not of great consequence, but the erosion of the trust that we, the people, have in authority is of great consequence. Police are entrusted with the lethal tools of violence and given extraordinary powers to protect us from violence and disorder, but when they use those tools and powers against innocent people they undermine the moral foundations of their own authority.

      This incident is a blemish on the honor of all law enforcement. The authorities need to treat it as an object lesson in a failure of professionalism and how unforgiving the public will be in the digital age.

    • Brian 5:06 pm on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I made a little graphic you may want to use in connection with this site. Ejoy:

      “Atlas Danced”

    • Bill St. Clair 8:11 am on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You can complain and write blogs and post videos all you want. The police won’t care. Until they are physically stopped from kidnapping people, they will continue to do it. Self defense is not a crime. It is the duty of every lover of liberty. A fancy uniform, funny hat, and shiny badge is not a license to kidnap. Kidnapping is a capital crime. Calling it “arrest” does not change its nature one wit.

    • ChrisW 2:31 pm on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You note that “some commenters have suggested that we wanted this to happen and/or staged this”

      Actually, if you could have planned this, it’s all the more damning of the park authorities. The only way this could be planned is if it’s not a one-time aberration.

      To plan such an outcome, you’d have to be reasonably sure that the problems are so systematic and ingrained that the outcome we observed would indeed occur.

  • blanksslate 4:16 pm on April 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Alcohol Liberation Front 5: Free the Jefferson 1 

    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:

    Alcohol Liberation Front 5 is happening Monday, April 21, at the Science Club, 1136 19th Street, NW, Washington D.C.

    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 1:05 am on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hey guys –

      I don’t know what’s really going on, only what you have posted here. Make sure you brush up on your federal and DC area ‘disorderly conduct laws’ – should help a bundle. If you were *peacefully* and *quietly* DANCING .. that would fall under the First Amendment Free Speech and Free Expression. DC and Federal monument and park laws are probably a good thing to look into, as well as documented court cases. If it as peaceful as the videos looked that division – I believe- had better get their hip waders out.

      Good Luck.


  • blanksslate 3:53 pm on April 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    FAQ Page 

    Cruising the interwebs looking at your comments and trying to respond to them gets awfully tiring. Thus, we have set up a FAQ page.

    Check it out — if you have any questions you need answered or feel belong on the page, please email me at theblanksslate-at-gmail-dot-com.

  • blanksslate 7:37 pm on April 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    What Other Jefferson Scholars Have to Say 

    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.

  • blanksslate 4:25 pm on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Busted: The Citizen’s Guide to Police Encounters 

    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.

  • blanksslate 10:13 am on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Wanted: The Jefferson 1 

    Robert Stacy McCain came up with this wanted poster for the Jefferson 1 which we all found very amusing:

    • Robert Stacy McCain 1:12 pm on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Now that the suspect has been publicly identified, she has informed me that she is 28. Her height and weight were estimated based upon extended observation. Since she has not complained, I will assume that the estimates were reasonably accurate — or at least, that she does not weigh less than 125.

    • bob 1:40 pm on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      5 feet, 10 and 3/4 inches
      135 pounds

      I can only assume that the weight estimate was off because the height estimate was off.

    • toby 5:02 am on April 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      So,how could they arrest such a cute person for just dancing?
      Just get the news via Der Spiegel,greetins from Germany!

  • blanksslate 3:51 pm on April 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    This is how it went down 

    This is the video posted this morning on YouTube. (Some language NSFW)

    • st4rbux 6:48 pm on April 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      holy crap.

    • Justin 10:11 am on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      This just makes me furious.

    • LJE 3:10 pm on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Curious, why was her purse handed over?

    • Teddy Carfolite 2:05 pm on April 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Allf of the “Jefferson” Shmucks should of been arrested for wasting time on their iphones.

    • CHRISSY 2:48 pm on April 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I HEART FLASH MOBS!!!! thank you for celebrating jefferson’s birthday with gusto! let’s all do a jig for our founding father!!!!!!

    • Ed 2:48 pm on April 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Why do the dancers hate America?

    • Dee 4:03 pm on April 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The guy with the camera keep asking the pigs to read the walls. Something tells me if your only capable of guarding a HUGE monument for a living odds are your not the best at reading and comprehension skills. Those worthless smucks probably couldn’t qualify for a real police gig so they work the monument beat as a rental cop. It doesn’t take much intelligence to be a real cop so that should give some indication of what type of mentality was being dealt with by these cops.

      Those guys looked like rent a Cops 2.0 and the one who cussed but said you could not cuss, FUCK HIM!

    • Anonymous 2:29 am on April 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      This is awful. These cops really think that their job is to keep public order, without any reference to whether the disorder is illegal or not.. or even a real inconvenience to anybody.

      What a bunch of incompetent, ignorant, ass holes.

    • Brendan Perez 3:52 am on April 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Well, I wrote my Senators and Representative to share my disgust over everything from the demand that they leave all the way to the one hypocrite threatening to arrest someone for quoting his use of profanity.

    • Shawn Levasseur 10:48 pm on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Where’s Kevin Bacon when you need him?

    • CE 9:30 am on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The police were very polite and the kids acted like idiots.

      They were told to stop- take the hint kids.

      You don’t dance in a memorial building- that’s disrespectful.

      Dancing before a statue?! What a bunch of morons!

    • Joe Allen 9:49 am on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Jack-booted thugs guarding Jefferson’s memorial. Wow.

      Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

    • Doktor_Jeep 10:54 am on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      We had a celebration of April 19th on Saturday – rifles abound!

      Nothing like this went down.

      Next time make it a “Jefferson Walk” and visit all of the stops in DC.

      And that’s how you win the country back.

    • CitizenLiberty 10:55 am on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, CE….guess your response means the Christians who perform sacred dance rituals qualify for jail since any church is specifically set aside as a memorial to the deity supported, eh? How about singing in public? Is that now a misdemeanor or felony?

      Then, of course, there’s that messy “freedom of association” thing going on, can’t have that in a police state now, can we? And naturally, public spaces are no longer really available to the public–only those who ‘behave’ in dowdy, somber reflection of the god Government.

      Nothing wrong in Washington that a small nuclear device couldn’t cure…..

    • Alex 8:21 pm on April 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Why don’t you have respect for others visiting the memorial? Then you act all huffy when told to stop acting like a child in public. Don’t puff out your chest and talk about Jefferson to defend this infantile behavior – people like you are what makes others lose liberty.

    • Rik 9:31 am on April 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Look, regardless of whether or not their behavior was APPRECIATED or not, it’s a question of whether it was CONSTITUTIONAL. Which, indeed, it was. The police could’ve been personally against it. That’s entirely true. But these same police had absolutely NO RIGHT to abuse their power, making an ARREST for reasons they made up. It would’ve been perfectly acceptable for a citizen to be dissatisfied. It would’ve been fine, even, for that same citizen to tell the group to leave. But, in that case, it would’ve been equally fine for the group to extend a certain metaphorical finger towards said citizen, because no matter how childish, they WEREN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG. And I do wholeheartedly suggest that anyone that believes otherwise should take another look at our constitution, and try to disprove me.

    • rEVOLutionary 7:07 pm on April 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      This is typical of what our world has come to. We have to stop this nonsense!

      No one NO ONE has the right to tell us what we can do with our body, our voice, our actions unless you are going to harm yourself or someone else.

      Leave people the fuck alone and let them act like children and dance. Where is the crime?

    • Revolution 2:44 am on April 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Where’s Adolf Hitler? This country is becoming another Nazi Germany. We need to take back our country from the corrupt government that has taken over. Our Constitution states we have the OBLIGATION TO REMOVE A TYRANICAL GOVERNMENT!! Time to do so!!

    • yugwen 1:04 pm on April 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      We don’t know the whole story, so what’s the point of getting upset over it and calling our nation a whole bunch of things? The US is a HUUUUGE place, and this is an isolated incident for crying out loud. How many decent, hard working cops just got slandered by the posts in here?

      Stop acting like spoiled brats who aren’t getting their way. If a cop tells you to do something, DO IT. Once we stop respecting authority, the whole system is broken. Civil disobedience is still disobedience no matter how you spin it.

    • PeeJay 11:08 pm on April 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I could not be more offended by the remark “if a cop tells you to do something, DO IT…” The essence of a free society is limits on the authority of the state. The United States was founded on this principle. Jefferson opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts because they gave too much power to the government. There may at times be legitimate debate about the limits of state power, but “do what the cops tell you” is just infantile.

    • Marnee 6:43 pm on May 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting. The dancing, if you can call it that, was simply some gentle moving about, not unlike the walking going on. I don’t see any reason why this would provoke any response from the guards. The evidence speaks for itself.

      Next time a choreographed ballroom dance would be more fun and interesting.

      Long Live Lady Liberty

    • Colin 12:05 pm on May 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Those who agree with the cops, please move out of the USA, we don’t want you here, you’re breaking our country.

    • Galen Rice 2:51 pm on May 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Those who call on others to move out of their country because they don’t like the way they think, please be quiet, that’s not the American way, you’re dividing our society.

  • blanksslate 1:03 pm on April 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    A Great Thanks to the Fourth Estate 

    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 12:36 am on April 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      While the Park Police probably overreacted, the girl who was arrested should *not* have continued her activity after being asked to leave. That’s a guaranteed arrest, as it’s going to be seen (as it was) as a provocative act, and frankly, unnecessarily so. The Park Police truly are not interested in having a debate on individual rights, and are just trying to do their job. The voice on the YouTube videos, or rather, the words said, were clearly annoying to the officer (and frankly, to this listener). The above post is so pompous and self-important over what should have been people acknowledging that they were asked to leave, perhaps when they should not have been, and then done so. Of course, it seems this crowd was primed to lash back with impromptu speechifying and post-incident blogging and writing. There’s a rather large “give me a break” factor here, with some of these pieces sounding like we’re one step away from marching on Selma all over again.

      Give it up-occasionally police or security will overreact, but so what? Does it *really* hurt to leave the public area? Not everything is an egregious violation of civil rights, and whether the actions of the Park Police or the pomposity of the YouTube speaker is more laughable is a toss-up.

  • blanksslate 12:32 am on April 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    A Personal View of Last Night’s Events 

    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.

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