Skip to main content

By Daniel Lee

“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty…in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”
Martin Luther King Jr.

On November 2, 2011, I and a group of 13 others stood on a small strip of grass in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, refusing the orders to leave the park being barked over bullhorn while being surrounded by more than 50 officers leveling riot suppression weapons at us, and were arrested, taken downtown, and booked in jail. I came back to the park the next night, and the night after that, for over 2 weeks, receiving two more citations, and facing off with the boys in blue each night as we sang the national anthem, union songs, and recited passages from the bill of rights,  Martin Luther King Jr., and OWS’ Declaration of Occupation.  I watched fellow protesters being sprayed in the face at point blank range with pepper spray for doing nothing more than sitting peacefully in protest, and I suffered minor nerve damage which still occasionally flares up every so often from the excessively tight zip cords they bound my hands with as they carried me away. I stood before city council the night after I was released from jail to plead for our rights only to be immediately shut down. I stood in the cold, in the rain and sleet, shoulder to shoulder with other compatriots, facing the full and terrible force of a belligerent militarized police force suppressing civil liberties, and I would gladly do it again.

Why did I risk my liberty and freedom to stand on a strip of grass after 11:01 pm? I did it because I believed, and still do, that the freedoms our country supposedly stands for is an illusion. True democracy does not exist – elections are rigged and controlled by wealthy corporate elites who use politicians as puppets to expand their profits and strip workers and citizens of their rights. Free speech is only free to those who can pay for it. All but the wealthiest who can hire an army of attorneys are subject to unreasonable search and seizure. Our civil and human rights are trampled on a daily basis, and yet we take it, day in and day out. We fly our flags and vote at election time, and unless we are directly bearing the brunt of injustice, we tend to turn a blind eye to the outrages against justice that are meted out on the poor, the minorities, and the plain unlucky.

I stood on that grass after curfew, in direct violation of a law which requires legal bribery by the payment of outrageous fees and insurance bonds to circumvent, a law which is designed to abridge citizen’s rights of free speech unless they have enough money to pay to get around it, and I made a stand. I could have moved two feet over to the sidewalk and completely avoided violating the law, but I chose to break it as a direct act of civil disobedience.

So I pled “No Contest” and was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of breaking park curfew, and given a fine, which the judge graciously reduced on account of being improperly represented at the beginning (a problem which I remedied by hiring a very able and competent attorney). I could have chosen to fight the charges as I’m sure some of the others arrested that night - and the night before and the nights of the two weeks which followed - might do. But to me, it is illogical and dishonest to commit an act of civil disobedience and then try to plead innocent. I freely acknowledge that I broke the law, and I have paid the price. The price however, is minuscule compared to the toll which is exacted upon the people in the name of freedom. Many more acts, and many more sacrifices will have to be made to balance back the scales of justice in our favor.

Originally posted at: - Oklahoma Workers' Monthly, the #1 news source for the Oklahoma working class, produced by the Communist Party of Oklahoma

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a couple of nights ago, in front of Federal Hall in NYC, i as doing some minor CD. long story but the cops threatened to arrest me for simply sitting on the sidewalk so i complained (this was not part of my CD action, i was just tired) and  got witnesses.   5 cops conferred for about 15 minutes until they figured out that sitting on the sidewalk at 3 in the morning was not illegal. (they forgot what brought me to their attention in the first place, the NYPD can be soo stupid at times). Anyway, cop number 6 kinda walked away from the others and told another occupier that he thought we were "very brave".
    Which you are.
    When you're right, you're right and no one can take that away from you.

    Solvent Green is Grandma

    by mad cow on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 05:38:07 PM PDT

  •  Well said, wulfric82. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    But to me, it is illogical and dishonest to commit an act of civil disobedience and then try to plead innocent
    I think Gandhi would approve of your statement...and just a few quotes attributed to this great man
    Civil disobedience means capacity for unlimited suffering without the intoxicating excitement of killing.

    Disobedience to be civil has to be open and nonviolent.

    Disobedience to be civil implies discipline, thought, care, attention.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site