A common cause for grievance among some older activists of the sixties variety is that “the kids these days” don’t protest. They’re too apathetic and jaded. They’re too isolated and detached from community. And while that may be true in certain cases, the kids these days are also aware of the omnipresent police state that constantly hovers just above their crowns, waiting to strike down with the wrath of God if they stray even slightly past the boundaries of acceptable dissent.
That reminder sometimes comes in spectacular displays like in Oakland when police nearly killed veteran Scott Olson with a projectile during a October 2011 Occupy Oakland protest, or the violent November 15 raid of Zuccotti in Manhattan when police barred press from entering the park to witness their tactics.
More often, the reminder is a slow bureaucratic suffocation when arrested protesters languish in the legal system for months at a time—sometimes years and years—awaiting their time in court. This process is too dull for most media outlets to devote resources too, and most protesters can’t afford the time and legal fees necessary to remain stuck in limbo.
Protesters needn’t be stuck in jail during this glacial-speed process in order for it to be an impediment in their daily lives. Even being “free,” but being required to return to court for hearing dates over and over is a highly disruptive factor in people’s lives. Court dates mean taking time off from work or finding transportation to court. It means the state can call upon them whenever, and they have to drop everything, or else.
Five Occupy Boston defendants appeared in Boston Municipal Court on Monday—finally—following their arrests over a year ago (fourteen months, to be exact) after an October 2011 raid on the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square. They were among 140 protesters charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly. (Only five defendents from the October raid have a date, the rest don't even know the co-defendents. Meanwhile, defendents from the final December 2011 raid haven't even had a court date set up yet).
Andrea Hill, Ashley Brewer, Brianne Milder, Tammi Arford and Kerry McDonald claim their constitutional rights of assembly and free speech were violated during the eviction.
“Arresting them and charging them with criminal conduct for exercising those rights was plainly unlawful and in violation of their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech under the First Amendment,” stated a Friday press release from the National Lawyers Guild, the association from which attorneys have volunteered to represent the protesters.
If the judge in the case grants a dismissal, there won’t be a trial, but if the judge denies the motion to dismiss, the protesters go to trail, which means more time surrendered to the state.