I loved my Constitutional Law course last semester, but it seems like every day there's another example of horrific police conduct that makes me question whether our country's government really lives by its founding document:
I arrived at the U. S. District Courthouse at 504 West Hamilton Street in Allentown, PA, at 11:40 am on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. It was a cool and overcast day. I started to pass out the American Jury Institute pamphlet entitled “A Primer for Prospective Jurors.” I was joined at 11:50 am by Jim Babb, who passed out flyers, and George Donnelly, who took pictures.
At 12:10 pm, six federal marshals approached us in a confrontational manner and said we could not pass out literature nor take pictures. They stood right in front of each of us, no more than 6 inches away, so that we could not communicate with passersby. These were 6 of the most obnoxious people I have ever met.
We asked the marshals to identify themselves, but they refused. We would not identify ourselves.
George attempted to take a picture, but they seized George’s camera. He attempted to retrieve it, but they they threw George to the ground. Then they decided to arrest him for assault. They were joined by a 7th marshal.
Donnelly, a videographer breaking no laws and bravely exercising his constitutional rights, faces eight years in prison. The excellent photographer-rights blog Photography is Not a Crime has a more in-depth look at his absurd legal situation, and Donnelly is currently participating in a lively conversation on Reddit.
Donnelly's donation-based legal defense fund has already grown to $4,000, and is still taking donations. The ACLU has expressed interest in taking on his case, but unless and until that happens, he needs all the help he can get to fight this.