Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms – worship, speech, press, assembly and petition – suffer when we’re at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago…
I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing. Later, sitting in the jail cell, I listened to the police try to decide what to charge me with. I was given the usual protest charges of Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction. These charges are a complete fiction and videotapes showed this within hours of the We Will Not Be Silent rally. That evidence was available to the District Attorney’s office eleven weeks ago. We were unable to keep the implications of a year in jail from the soul of Lena, turning 5 on Monday.
There are two possible conversations with law enforcement. One is children and the other is the United States Constitution. If we talk to the police about the 1st Amendment, and establish an understanding the five freedoms in it are guaranteed to all of us, then we can work on the interpretation together. The five freedoms were not protected in my case. And children? Many of us are parents and safety from climate change, economic and racial injustice are three great threats. Occupy Wall Street, the Peoples Climate March and Black Lives Matter are three efforts that broke through a pernicious system of injustice.
Consumerism and Militarism are systems that try to outmaneuver the Bill of Rights. We’re not at war now. We’re building our world with trust, not guns. We’re building with free speech in public, not corporate marketing. The Church of Stop Shopping, our little group of singing activists, pledge to return the tradition of the 1st Amendment to every corner of our city.
Reverend Billy Talen