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October 27, 2005

Watching Cindy Sheehan Get Arrested

Cindy Sheehan was arrested last night in front of the White House as a result of a protest against the War in Iraq. I was in class when the protest started, but since the White House is only about 4 blocks from GW, I biked over after class managed to catch the cops giving their “final warning” to the protesters. Click here for a short movie of the warning, as well as two law students (myself and a classmate who biked over w/me) sounding silly as we speculate about what actual law these people were supposedly breaking. Apparently you need a permit to lay down on the sidewalk, but don't tell the homeless of this city!

We hung around and watched a bit but since we were forced to stand across the street, it was hard to see much. The police zip-tied the protesters hands and forced them to sit up, then they slowly took them, one-by-one, to the two trucks they had there to haul them away. One strange thing I noticed was that someone seemed to be taking a picture of each protester just before he/she was placed in the truck. The photographer didn't appear to be wearing a uniform, so was that a press person, or a lawyer, or a cop? Not a major fact, but it just seemed odd.

Sheehan says she's going to repeat this protest for four days. I'll take a vote: Should I go join her?

In my “PI Lawyering” class last week we talked about whether getting arrested for civil disobedience could be a problem for being admitted to the bar or getting a job. I argued that it wasn't a crime of moral turpitude so it shouldn't affect bar admittance too badly, and that if an employer didn't like something like that, I didn't want the job. Obviously such a position would dramatically narrow the range of jobs available, but I think the bar admittance thing is really the bigger question. Does anyone know anything about this? Do arrests for civil disobedience create problems for bar membership?

Posted October 27, 2005 10:06 AM | 3L general politics

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Many GW law students have been arrested at world bank protests and nothing happened. You should totally go. If you have doubts, ask Turley for his advice, he has represented protesters in the past.

Posted by: D at October 27, 2005 11:26 AM

Heh. I liked your movie. If this whole law thing doesn't work out, perhaps you could go into broadcast journalism! ;)

Posted by: E. McPan at October 27, 2005 02:12 PM

It's actually pretty standard procedure to photograph protesters as documentation that they were not badly treated. It's how the police/govt protect themselves from police brutality charges in protest scenarios.

There were probably other photographers/videographers present to document the protest from the govt perspective, showing, for example, that all the necessary warnings were given, and if possible, capturing how exactly the protesters were detained. This comes into play if the case goes to court later, since it is pretty common practice for protesters to claim that they were badly treated by the police, whether or not this was actually the case.

Posted by: Legal Quandary at October 28, 2005 08:09 AM

If you support their cause you should join them. Get some friends to join you. You could time it so that just as they are hauling a protester off another protester walks up and lays down. You could even set a protester goal for number of protesters arrested. However, it'd have to be a pretty large number. After all, the country was recently told that 2,000 isn't a significant number. Wear warm clothes. If rights go unused, (such as the right to petition the gov't for redress or to peaceably assemble, certain societal segments start to claim they aren't needed. why's that?)
Angel Factor

Posted by: Angel Factor at October 28, 2005 09:20 PM

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