Remember the American Legislative Exchange Council? If not, this video will remind you.
ALEC created the Stand Your Ground Law that allowed George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed, innocent black teenager and be acquitted in a court of law by a jury of his peers. The verdict is a travesty. But it's a travesty that goes much deeper than a courtroom in Sanford, Florida.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)is petitioning the United States Department of Justice to seek justice for slain teenager Trayvon Martin by filing civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
In a message posted on the groups’s website and circulated nationally within hours of the announcement of the verdict, NAACP president Ben Jealous declared “We are not done demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.”
The events in this video happened December 17th, 2011, as protesters, including clergy members, attempted to Occupy the unused, fenced off section of Duarte Square on the corner of Canal Street and 6th Avenue in New York City on the three-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.
Activist and community organizer Michael Premo was found not guilty on all charges on Thursday in the first jury trial stemming from an Occupy Wall Street protest. Video evidence presented in Premo's defense contradicted claims by police and prosecutors.
Premo, who more recently has been an important figure in Occupy Sandy efforts, was arrested on December 17, 2011 during a protest in lower Manhattan when Occupy protesters attempted to start a new occupation in an empty lot on Duarte Square.
In the police version of events, Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer's bone. That's the story prosecutors told in Premo's trial, and it's the general story his arresting officer testified to under oath as well.
But Premo, facing felony charges of assaulting an officer, maintained his innocence. His lawyers, Meghan Maurus and Rebecca Heinegg, set out to find video evidence to contradict it. Prosecutors told them that police TARU units, who filmed virtually every moment of Occupy street protests, didn't have any footage of the entire incident. But Maurus knew from video evidence she had received while representing another defendant arrested that day that there was at least one TARU officer with relevant footage. Reviewing video shot by a citizen-journalist livestreamer during Premo's arrest, she learned that a Democracy Now cameraman was right in the middle of the fray, and when she tracked him down, he showed her a video that so perfectly suited her needs it brought a tear to her eye.
For one thing, the video prominently shows a TARU cop named Bosco, holding up his camera, which is on, and pointing at the action around the kettle. When Premo's lawyers subpoenaed Bosco, they were told he was on a secret mission at "an undisclosed location," and couldn't respond to the subpoena. Judge Robert Mandelbaum didn't accept that, and Bosco ultimately had to testify, though he claimed, straining credibility, that though the camera is clearly on and he can be seen in the video pointing it as though to frame a shot, he didn't actually shoot any video that evening.
Even more importantly, the Democracy Now video also flipped the police version of events on its head. Far from showing Premo tackling a police officer, it shows cops tackling him as he attempted to get back on his feet.
After watching the video, the jury deliberated for several hours before returning a verdict of not guilty on all counts.
One of Premo's lawyers, Meghan Maurus, said after the trial that his case highlighted the importance of having the press, livestreamers and professional video journalists present during demonstrations, and that "without that evidence, this would have been a very different case."
"The biggest thing for me coming out of this," Premo told the Voice, "is not being discouraged by the attempts of New York City to quell dissent and prevent us from expressing our constitutional rights."
Hundreds have been arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests, but photographer Alexander Arbuckle's case was the first to go to trial, and was acquitted after video footage of the incident showed that he didn't break any law. The best part? Arbuckle was there to document the NYPD's side of the story, hoping to defend police working at Occupy protests with his NYU photojournalism project when he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly blocking the street. "I felt the police had been treated unfairly on the media," he told the Village Voice. "All the focus was on the conflict and the worst instances of brutality and aggression, where most of the police I met down there were really professional and restrained."
During the January 1st Occupy Wall Street march, journalist Tim Pool was there livestreaming the event, and in his video footage, later used as evidence along with the NYPD's own video footage, protesters are clearly seen using the sidewalk like they were asked to, with only the swarm of officers blocking traffic. In Pool's video, above, the relevant portion begins at the 31:50 mark, with the arrest action taking place around minute 35.
"What's happening is very similar to what happened in 2004 with the Republican National Convention," Arbuckle's lawyer told the Voice. "It's just a symptom of how the NYPD treats dissent. But what has changed is that there is more prevalence of video. It really makes our job a lot easier to have that video."
Judge dismisses charges against 30 members of Occupy Philly including freelance journalist and photographer Dustin Slaughter, charges of obstruction of a highway, failure to disperse and conspiracy stemming from a Nov. 30 protest sparked when police forced the Occupiers from their 56-day encampment outside City Hall on Dilworth Plaza.