Foreign Policy

Yelling in the Visitors Gallery in Congress = Night in Jail

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The story, from AfterDowningStreet.org:

Mike Ferner was found guilty today in District of Columbia Superior Court. He has just been sentenced.

Ferner was originally sentenced to 5 days incarceration suspended and 6 months unsupervised probation including a $100 fine and $50 to the victims compensation fund.

He told the judge that he would not pay the fine and that his highest civic duty was to protest….. "Today we must speak out against the crimes of our government," Ferner said, according to Joy First who was in court in solidarity with Ferner.

……………

The judge vacated the sentence and gave him a new sentence of one night in DC jail, First said.

………..

Ferner, who served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman during the Viet Nam war, was arrested September 20, in the the visitors' gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives when he and another activist stood up and loudly addressed the members of Congress, saying: "Funding the War is Killing Our Troops!"

Ferner was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with disorderly disturbing Congress, a charge that carries a maximum 6 months jail sentence.

Does the "Victims Compensation Fund" cash in this case go to members of Congress who had their little play day interrupted?

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  1. The original sentence was excessive, but a night in jail sounds fair to me.

  2. I guess he stopped on the wrong square on the Monopoly board. Too bad, the $200 would have covered his fees.

  3. There’s no yelling in the gallery. Any man yelling in the gallery spends a night in the box.

  4. This is interesting case. This guy has every right to tell any Congressman he likes what he thinks of said Congressman. But, I don’t think he has a right to create a disturbance when he does it. Congress does have to get work done. Is it okay for anyone to come in and shout whatever they like and interrupt a session of Congress? If so, how would Congress ever meet or get anything done if the gallery were contstantly filled with people screaming over this or that issue. Further, did this guy yell the remark just once or start shouting it over and over again to disrupt Congress? If it is was latter, he should have been arrested. I am tired of the whole just shout down every one you don’t like mentality. If this guy thinks funding the war is so terrible, start a blog, write a letter, wait for Congressman whoever outside his office and tell him to his face what a dirt bag he is, hold up a sign in the gallery. But I don’t see how he has a right to shout and disrupt Congress, if that is in fact what he did.

  5. There is no mention if he asked the judge if the fringe on the flag designated it a maritime court. Wondering if he pulled that one too?

    So, Brian, is it okay for us to come into the editorial room of reason to yell and scream at everything that we do not agree with over there?*

    Yes, yes, I understand the private property thing, it is an example.

    *I think I read something like that at National Review so not claiming it as original text.

  6. Is it still okay to throw peanuts from the gallery?

  7. “””This is interesting case. This guy has every right to tell any Congressman he likes what he thinks of said Congressman. But, I don’t think he has a right to create a disturbance when he does it.”””

    We have to be careful about the term disturbance. All protests disturbs someone around the event. If we had a no disturbance clause, it could be used to shut down all protests. Unless you’re protesting in the middle of nowhere, then you might be disturbing some protected animal or plant.

    I think he should have been escorted out and banned for the day. If someone repeatedly comes back to disrupt, then he’s harrassing Congress and charges should follow.

  8. Is it still okay to throw peanuts from the gallery?

    Not unless everybody has adreneline injectors.

  9. Andrew, the law should be that you can throw peanuts anytime a Congressman or Senator says something stupid.

    It would be an elephants paradise.

  10. Is it still okay to throw peanuts from the gallery?

    Only if you inform the nearest guard, “Throwin’ a peanut here, boss” before you chuck it.

  11. “I think he should have been escorted out and banned for the day. If someone repeatedly comes back to disrupt, then he’s harrassing Congress and charges should follow.”

    I think that is fair. Like I said, I would like to know if he just yelled it once or started chanting it. If he just said it once, then I might not even kick him out and just tell him to please not yell. If he started chanting, I would have arrested him.

  12. “Is it still okay to throw peanuts from the gallery?”

    There will be no throwing peanuts from the gallery.
    Any man throwing peanuts from the gallery……will spend a night in the box.

  13. I think he should have been escorted out and banned for the day. If someone repeatedly comes back to disrupt, then he’s harrassing Congress and charges should follow.

    See if you can get that law yelled into enactment?

  14. So, do you think any members of congress changed their mind after hearing his protest?

  15. “Congress does have to get work done. Is it okay for anyone to come in and shout whatever they like and interrupt a session of Congress?”

    I would hope more people do this. Seriously, what important work is Congress doing now? Practically everything outside of the budget they’ve abrogated to the executive (like foreign policy) or judiciary. I’d rather they stopped spending money and pretty much all of the important and necessary laws were already on the books a good century ago.

  16. Guy,
    This country was founded by acts of disobedience.

    I might say that every triumph for freedom what found in such a manner. If it turned into war depened on how the government acted.

  17. “”I might say that every triumph for freedom what found in such a manner.””

    was founded in such a manner.

  18. “If so, how would Congress ever meet or get anything done if the gallery were contstantly filled with people screaming over this or that issue.”

    This is a bad thing?

  19. I think these guys knew how to create a disturbance.

  20. Don’t taze me, bro!

  21. I think these guys knew how to create a disturbance.

    Shooting a Representivo aqui, mang.

  22. Bro tazed!!!

  23. I’d like a little context here, Brian Doherty.

    1) Did the guy yell something, and the sergeant-at-arms immediately called the cops and had him arrested without any warnings?

    If so, IMO the security forces were in the wrong.

    2) Or did he get a warning and ignore it?

    If so, then escorting the guy out for the day would have sufficed.

    3) Did he get a warning, ignore it, and then try to fight the sergeant-at-arms when they tried to escort him out?

    I can see letting him cool off in jail for one day for that.

  24. Ferner was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with disorderly disturbing Congress, a charge that carries a maximum 6 months jail sentence.

    If the result of the shouting was that a Congressman woke up and slipped another earmark into an appropriation, I would say that the sentence was far too light.

    😉

  25. de stijl,

    Has you got your mind right, son?

  26. “Is it okay for anyone to come in and shout whatever they like and interrupt a session of Congress? If so, how would Congress ever meet or get anything done if the gallery were contstantly filled with people screaming over this or that issue.”

    My God, now THAT is an action plan, and it all comes down to shouting!

  27. After passing the Patriot Act (which was not available for review at the time of the vote!?!?!?!? not to mention destroyed the last vestiges of the Bill of Rights) it is clearly in our best interest for Congress to do *nothing*.

    It is becoming clearer as time goes on that dissent of any kind is not going to be tolerated. Try to enjoy the final days of Rome, I’m sure Congress will…

    -sc

  28. The charge is “disturbing Congress”?

    I’d like to see a law preventing Congress from disturbing me.

    Maybe they should have a system like they do in golf. Everyone is quiet until the vote is called and then some idiot shouts a Congressional version of “Get in the hole!” or “You the Man, McCain!” or whoever.

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