January 17, 2008

Columbus Day Protestors' Defense Plans To Put Columbus On Trial

Looks like Ward Churchill's old buddy David Lane is trotting out the "we can do anything we want because our opinions matter more than any law" defense:
Defense lawyers argued Wednesday that Columbus Day protesters had a right to block a Denver parade because it celebrated a man whom American Indians view as a slave trader, murderer and rapist.

"Are you aware that to some [?--ed.] Native Americans, celebrating Columbus is the same as celebrating Hitler to Jews?" attorney David Lane asked prospective jurors during the first in a series of trials for more than 80 people arrested in the Oct. 6 protest.

Denver police made the arrests in an annual ritual in which opponents try to block the parade.

Lane argued that the parade is a form of "ethnic intimidation," similar to burning a cross on a black family's lawn.

City attorneys countered that the parade was legal because it had a permit. The only issue for the jury is whether the protesters violated city ordinances, such as blocking the street, they said.

"They want to use this to put Columbus on trial. That's not what this is all about," said assistant city attorney Melissa Drazen-Smith.
Surprising that Lane added the caveat "some". Giving offense, apparently, legitimizes the actions of the protestors.

Those on trial include:
The defendants are University of Colorado political science professor Glenn Morris, who has been in several of the annual Columbus Day protests; the Rev. Julie Todd, a Methodist minister who is a doctoral candidate at the Iliff School of Theology, and Koreena Montoya of Denver.
More on the defense's tactics in court (hoping something will stick):
The lawyers for the defendants made various opposing arguments, saying their clients may not have known they were breaking the law, that the police may not have sufficiently warned them and that Columbus was a murderer and a slave trader.
The first argument is clearly a load of BS--what with all the green-hatted "legal observers" there (and surely Lane was consulted beforehand).

The second argument is also ridiculous on its face. One only need watch the videos from the parade posted on this blog to hear the repeated, clear warnings issued by the Denver Police. Either the defense expects the jury to be stupid, or the protestors temporarily went deaf (could be those bandannas and the repetitive drum banging as well).

As for the third reason, it is clear that the arrested protestors and their defense wish to lecture the jury with their version of a "history lesson"/academic colloquium on Columbus.

What doesn't appear to be happening is a challenge of the city's ordinances prohibiting anyone from blocking a lawful parade with legitimate permits for any reason. The protestors would simply offer that their free speech rights and alleged "moral superiority" would trump any such trifling legal restriction. Beyond that, city/state/federal laws are ALL inherently illegitimate, based as they are upon white colonial power:
"Asking an illegal colonizer for permission to be on land that doesn't belong to them doesn't work for us"--Glenn Spagnuolo

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