Michael Brown Shooting

In Ferguson, Legal Observers Fight for Rights of Protesters

ACLU and others closely monitor police behavior


Aaron Malin

As protests surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown intensify in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis area, a crack team of lawyers and legal observers are prepared to respond to respond to illegitimate police activity. The National Lawyers Guild and other groups have sent hundreds of lawyers to Ferguson in recent weeks, and they have worked closely with the ACLU of Missouri, which has hosted local training sessions for legal observers.

They have also pursued aggressive legal action to protect the rights of protesters and journalists. In August, the ACLU reached an agreement with law enforcement authorities that "the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement unless it obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of others, or physically interferes with the ability of law enforcement officers perform their duties." They also filed a lawsuit to prevent the police from interfering with journalists, and obtained three court orders on November 21 which "permanently enjoined [police] from interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties."

It took the police just one day to violate that court order. As I have previously written about, journalist Trey Yingst was arrested and charged with "failure to disperse" (from a street) while taking photographs on a public sidewalk. Executive Director of the ACLU of Missouri Jeffrey Mittman issued the following statement: "We are deeply troubled that the First Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis," said Jeffrey Mittman, ACLU of Missouri executive director. "We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end."

It is unclear at this time what steps will be taken next.

Meanwhile, the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild continue to maintain a clear presence at protests. Wearing matching bright-green hats, nearly a dozen legal observers walked alongside and throughout marching protesters in St. Louis last night. Police held traffic for the march and helped redirect cars, but otherwise did not bother protesters (in stark contrast with other protests in recent weeks). The presence of legal observers appears to have a direct impact on police behavior toward protesters, and their importance will only grow in the days to come.

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  1. Got anyone to watch out for “illegitimate looting and vandalism” activity?

    Oh, that’s right – the cops are supposed to do that!

    Have fun, Ferguson. See ya – wouldn’t wanna be ya…

  2. I trust that both sides will conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner, despite their differences of opinion.

    Ah, who are we kidding? The Left will just go back to ignoring police brutality unless it has a racial component worth exploiting. Nothing to see here, folks.

    1. Also, the ACLU is a sick joke.

      1. Why the hate for the ACLU? They’re one of the few liberal organizations that doesn’t hesitate to take it to Democrat administrations when they feel the principles they stand for were violated by those administrations.

        1. Take a second look at my profile name, and you’ll find your answer.

          The ACLU’s stance on gun control is also an affront to the phrase “civil liberties”.

          1. That seems like a pretty tough litmus test. Every liberal organization is pro-choice, but not every one takes it to Democrat administrations on other issues.

            1. I never said I was fond of liberal organizations.

              1. Sure, I get that, but you can distinguish between terrible (from your viewpoint) and less terrible organizations, right?

                1. That’s kind of a single-issue thing for me, so…

          2. The ACLU supports the RKBA. They also support the right to privacy which conservatives do not.

            1. How does the ACLU support the RKBA?

              1. By statement for the national ACLU. Local chapters fight for gun rights in cases documented by Reason. FL and TX come to mind. Use the search function.

            2. They believe in the collective definition of the right to keep and bear arms, rather than the individual right. And I’m a (constitutional) conservative who believes that, outside of protecting life, liberty and property, the right to privacy exists. Key word: life.

              Eh, let’s not rehash this again. The ACLU just doesn’t have a good track record, in my mind.

              1. Buttplug is the same dumbass who said that Obama is a 2nd Amendment “champion”. He’s a fucking retard and can safely be ignored on this subject.

                1. Suthenboy! You got a new handle! Why?

                2. The distinction is between individual right and collective right. Collective right equals militia, which usually translates to only law enforcement should have weapons.

                  “The police are all a bunch of corrupt racists. That’s why only they should be allowed to keep and bear arms!”

          3. I donate to the ACLU for complete disclosure. They are the only organization that defends the entire BoR. Or even most of it.

            1. They’ve got some significant blind spots, and they are even un-libertarian in some big spots, but I think they’re one of the better liberal organizations because they do have some significant overlap with libertarian concerns and they’re fairly principled in taking it to Democrat administrations as well as Republican ones.

              1. But they defend the Establishment Clause. For us rationalists that is vital.

            2. Have to disagree with you on that.

              1. Fair enough.

          4. Take a second look at my profile name…

            C’mon, Bo, really? Obvious fetus fancier. Those people have always been butt-hurt that the ACLU doesn’t buy in to their quaint personhood notions. And they can never bring themselves to say a good word about the tangible good which the ACLU does do even in areas which don’t contradict them and may even help them, say with the First.

            See, that’s what we’re dealing with. You’re either with them 100% or you’re against them.

            1. I’m fairly new here. Are Tony and Tonio one and the same?

              I’m not going to debate this here. Someone asked me why I’m not a fan, so I answered.

              1. So it was important enough to put in your name but not to defend by argument. Got it.

                1. I’ve written about that issue on numerous other threads.

                  Important enough to include in my name ? something I want to debate on unrelated threads.

                  1. how do you do the “not equal to” sign?

              2. Are Tony and Tonio one and the same?

                No; Tonio is a libertarian, Tony is a proggy.

                1. Tonio is a libertarian

                  Eh, sure, I suppose he is, but his posting habits (such as being patently duplicitous and dishonest) are very similar.

              3. Are Tony and Tonio one and the same?


  3. It’s called “Ochlocracy”.

  4. I truly cannot imagine why anyone in Ferguson (or anywhere, really) would mistrust the police. It’s a mystery!

    1. Yeah, I mean, with all those businesses looted and burned down.

  5. The announcement is at 9 PM Eastern. The fact that they’re dragging it out that long makes it pretty clear that there’s not going to be an indictment.

    1. Why not wait until morning when all the potential hellraisers are sleeping it off. Oh no lets do it at 9pm. Hell why nkt do it 15 minutes before the bars close.

  6. Okay, seriously. Does anyone have a valid, objective source with a complete rundown of the events surrounding this incident? I feel like I should have an opinion on the actual proceedings, but I’ve neglected to do so out of fear of being labeled a “cop-enabling racist”. And the thought of lefty outrage on this issue makes me all the more hesitant to take a stance.

    1. Police brutality and militarization? All real. And Brown was clearly not innocent. But I still want a good source.

      1. There is no good source.

        But at this point, I believe you have to default to, unless proven otherwise, thinking that whatever the police say is a lie. If you don’t, you’re not paying attention.

        Turning this into a “well, lefties are outraged, so they must be wrong” or “the ACLU feels this way, so they must be wrong” is bullshit.

        1. “There is no good source.”

          Exactly, the source with the most access to the critical evidence was…one of the parties (the police).

        2. “But at this point, I believe you have to default to, unless proven otherwise, thinking that whatever the police say is a lie. If you don’t, you’re not paying attention.”

          See, I disagree with that. I’m certainly opposed to police brutality and militarization, but my first impulse isn’t to just blindly reject whatever the police say. Sure, they’re corrupt. I’ve been barking up that tree since time immemorial.

          I refuse to fall on one side of the aisle or the other with this. Certainly, the pro-Brown crowd could make a stronger case if they focused more on police brutality and racism. And I’ve also been critical of conservatives who endorse police militarization while at the same time demanding limited government.

          1. Dang it.

            “Certainly, the pro-Brown crowd could make a stronger case if they focused more on police brutality and racism.”

            *stronger case if it focused more on police brutality and less on racism

    2. “I’ve neglected to do so out of fear of being labeled a “cop-enabling racist”. And the thought of lefty outrage on this issue makes me all the more hesitant to take a stance.”

      Why fear the labels of others if the labels are untrue ? Being afraid of lefty outrage only empowers the leftist. That is what they are after, your fear.

      1. It’s mostly their tendency to declare victory after making specious arguments. Like playing chess with a pigeon. They knock down all of the pieces and then strut about the board as if they’ve won.

  7. Ah, the National Lawyers Guild…

    I’ll just leave this here for your reading enjoyment.

    http://www.iadllaw.org/files/Myths of the Hermit Kingdom A Sojourn of Truth to North Korea.pdf

    1. Page not found, bro.

      1. Lame…

        http://www.iadllaw.org/files/Myths of the Hermit Kingdom A Sojourn of Truth to North Korea.pdf

          1. Seems like such a nice place, I take back all the hateful rhetoric I’ve used to describe them over the years, my bad.

  8. Oh, yeah – those police are going wild. Must protect the scum that’s all set to destoroy the town. Wouldn’t want their freedom of [removed]burning down the town) to be hampered by those nasty cops. Hopefully those ACLU scumbags will be mistaken for white undercover police by the mob and torn to shreds. What a shame that would be for American justice.

    1. So the police didn’t hassle the many peaceful protesters and press who weren’t up to burning down anything?

    2. Where is Mordred45 when we need him?

    3. It’s like ‘Murican, only less subtle.

  9. I think that most libertarians can agree on the following three points:

    1. Police militarization is in need of redress.
    2. Police brutality against peaceful protesters is unacceptable.
    3. Looting is unacceptable.

    1. The problem is that 1) is not a factor here.

      Police militarization is a problem with serving warrants with a SWAT team. It is not a problem when you are trying to put down a riot.

      The main goal of the police should be to protect the life and property of people.

      Riots are a major threat to that.

      After criticism of “police militarization” on previous nights, one night the police stood down and did nothing, 60 businesses were looted and wrecked.

      I don’t think 2) was a problem either. How much actual brutality was there? Anyone sent to the hospital?

      and with 3) the only thing preventing looting is cops using violence. Like I said, the one night they stood down, literally dozens of shops were looted and owners had to come with guns and defend their own stores.

      1. I’m trying to attack this issue both ways. On the one hand, you have liberals insisting that looting wasn’t a major concern. On the other hand, you have conservatives insisting that police militarization is a good idea when it’s for the right purposes.

        Both sides are wrong; it’s all about staking the right ground.

      2. But police militarization could be linked to police brutality. “We’ve got these awesome war toys, let’s go fight some war!”

        1. In other news, why can’t we just settle this issue through executive order?

      3. Fuck off, Tulpa.

  10. Nothing has really changed since this comment from right after the mess started:

    Shop owner had already paid his protection money. New guy, fat and
    stupid, tries to muscle in. Protection racket enforcer enforces. The
    racket lieutenants leave the mouldering body on the street as a
    warning. Neighborhood outraged. Disproportionate punishment for trying
    to skim a little piece of the action. And an in-your-face display of
    the thuggish muscle’s indifference to the sensibilities of the local
    tribe. Racket bosses have to step in. Cooler heads know that all this
    swagger has been bad for business.

    1. LO fucking L.


  11. No indictment.

  12. At what point do protesters turn into rioters and then looters and even assaulters and murderers?

    I think this will be the big message left by the situation, possibly even worse than L.A.

    The protesters have a right to protest, reporters have a right to report, but the police also have the right (and obligation) to protect the rights and property of others.

    Hopefully, at least the police will show restraint and not exacerbate the situation further and then we can have a better discussion on race relations and the problems with today’s police forces.

    In the end, burning down a city, shooting rioters, or any other violent behaviors are going to address what led to this situation.

    1. I don’t think anything resembling the LA riots will happen. Ferguson is tiny little place as far I can tell. There are (were) worse riots in Europe that gets no media coverage in America.

      People just aren’t that hardcore anymore. The internet makes it easier to vent your frustration and share it everywhere. New information that sheds light on a situation is now identified and tracked at the speed of social media.

      A lot of black people are pissed right now, but this shall too pass. They have other issues to worried about. They did in vote in droves to save Dems in the midterms.

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