From: ("Mr.Liberal")
Subject: [azpeace] Fwd: Georgia Judge Allows For Mass Search of Protesters
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 16:41:17 -0700

t r u t h o u t - Georgia Judge Allows For Mass Search of Protesters

>         (*Editors Note | Is the 4th Amendment dead? Today in Columbus,
>         Georgia thousands of protesters will have to go through
>         checkpoints and be searched individualy with metal detectors
>         before being permited to excercise their first amendment rights
>         and a peaceful, non violent rally on a public street. What
>         happened to our 4th ammendment protections?-- sg) 
>         Judge Dismisses SOA Watch Claims 
>         Police Allowed to Use Hand-Held Metal Detectors During Protest 
>         Staff Writer 
>         Search on 
>         Seesawing between the city's interest in public safety and an
>         individual's right to speak, U.S. District Judge Clay Land ruled
>         Friday that using metal detectors will not violate the
>         constitutional rights of protesters at this weekend's SOA Watch
>         demonstration. 
>         His decision came after a four-hour hearing in which Columbus
>         police officers -- describing anarchists in black masks and
>         frenzied women bearing their breasts -- testified that the
>         nonviolent protest is growing more extreme and has the potential
>         "to go over the top" toward violence. 
>         Acknowledging the conflicting interests law enforcement faces,
>         Land said city officials have crafted a narrowly tailored plan
>         that protects the public and ensures the demonstrators' rights to
>         express their views. 
>         This means that thousands expected to crowd into the streets in
>         front of Fort Benning's Main Gate today and Sunday will first
>         pass through police checkpoints on Benning Road. Officers will
>         check each person entering the protest site with a hand-held
>         metal detector, which the judge said is permissible within the
>         constraints of the First Amendment. 
>         "This has nothing to do with the First Amendment or the SOA Watch
>         message," Police Chief Willie Dozier testified. "This is about
>         public safety." 
>         SOA Watch attorneys argued that the group has no history of
>         violence, that past arrests involving demonstrators weren't
>         violent and that in 12 years of protesting, no weapons have been
>         reported or seized. 
>         "Certainly these are troubled times, but there were troubled
>         times a year ago after 9/11," SOA Watch attorney Gerry Weber said
>         in his closing remarks. "In this case, they want to change the
>         rules for this one group." 
>         Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters said the security plan will be "a
>         limited intrusion" for people attending the rallies today and
>         Sunday. 
>         "Protesters won today, too. They just don't realize it," Peters
>         said. 
>         SOA Watch has gathered here since 1990, protesting the presence
>         at Fort Benning of a school they claim is involved in the
>         training of soldiers that have participated in atrocities
>         throughout Latin America. Originally called the School of
>         Americas, it reopened a year ago as the Western Hemisphere
>         Institute for Security Cooperation. 
>         Program Director Jeff Winder testified that SOA Watch wants to
>         shut down the school and to "change the foreign policy it
>         represents." 
>         Winder, 34, and a father of three small children, lives in the
>         suburbs of Washington, D.C. He said he feels safe bringing his
>         family to the protest. 
>         "My children couldn't go out to recess for weeks because of the
>         sniper. I feel safer here than practically anywhere else," he
>         said. 
>         Protesters attend nonviolent classes and are asked to adhere to
>         the group's code of conduct -- including a nonviolent pledge. 
>         "We should not be viewed as criminals because we choose to
>         protest," Winder testified. 
>         Land asked why that oath does not include a pledge not to break
>         the law. 
>         "You're not attacking an unjust law as people in the civil rights
>         movement did," the judge said. 
>         "We're not supportive of a flagrant disregard of the law," Winder
>         replied. "But there are occasions when breaking the law advances
>         our cause without harming any persons." 
>         In his ruling, Land referred to the law-breaking Winder mentioned
>         and said while the protest is nonviolent, that does not mean they
>         have a history of peacefulness or lawfulness. 
>         Bill Quigley, a Loyola University of New Orleans law professor,
>         served as co-counsel with Weber. He called Dozier as a witness
>         and asked the police chief how the department deals with other
>         local events. 
>         "The Fountain City Classic is Saturday at the stadium. How many
>         people will be there?" Quigley asked. 
>         Dozier estimated a crowd between 12,000 and 14,000. 
>         "Will you have a perimeter of armed police officers?" 
>         "No," the chief said. 
>         "The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is at Legacy Hall Saturday night.
>         Will you use metal detectors on everyone at that event?" asked
>         Quigley. 
>         Dozier said they would not. 
>         The attorney asked if it was city policy to use such measures at
>         high school football games, at Golden Park, at parades, at malls,
>         at churches and at restaurants. Such security measures are not
>         used at such venues, Dozier said. 
>         Police Capt. Mac Todd has been at 11 SOA Watch protests --
>         including the first when less than a dozen people participated.
>         He demonstrated the hand-held metal detector in court -- even on
>         Quigley. He said it will go off only if the person is carrying a
>         large metal object such as a weapon 
>         (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
>         distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
>         interest in receiving the included information for research and
>         educational purposes.) 
>           Print This Story  E-mail This Story
>          : t r u t h o u t 2002

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